Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Five: 5 Worst Required Reading Books

School is back in session. Or close to it at least. Now's the time that English teachers pull out pop quizzes and try to lead discussions on the summer's required reading. Please. Why didn't they just break all your new crayons and mock you for having a He-Man lunchbox? Oh, they did that too? Well, don't know what to tell you except to check out our 5 worst required reading books after the jump...

5. Passage to India by E.M. Forster

"You can't remember why books are so boring...just that they are." Co-worker Allison

(Tie) 4. Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway & The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthone.

"Boring." Co-worker Bill

"Snoozefest." Co-worker Bill

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

We all knew decapitation was bad, just not this bad.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

"Nothing relates to American high school freshmen quite like the struggles of Okonkwo the African tribesman an the Protestant missionaries who threaten his culture. And there were no Cliffs Notes." My friend, Daniel

1. Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

Multi-colored highlighters, chainmail making lessons and my Andre the Giant impersonator of a teacher giving sword fighting lessons for two months.

Any more to add?


  1. Well, with -Old Man and the Sea_, you can trick kids into reading it because it's short; of course, once they know it's about an old man fishing, they pretty much realize they've been hoodwinked.

    _Things Fall Apart_ works through the first section. They like reading about boys being slaughtered with machetes, spouse abuse, and Okonkwo's turning to drugs after killing Ikemefuna. Then, they sleep walk through the book until Okonkwo pulls out his machete on a soldier, that scene is what makes Okonkwo a true gangster but then he ruins it punking out and hanging himself.

    Thanks, I appreciated this list, as I will be grading summer assignments in a few weeks.

  2. Have to admit to not having read all of these, but come on--you're going to dis Forster, Dickens and Hawthorne? My daughter had to read "Tuesdays with Morrie" over the summer. At least the books above qualify as literature.

  3. "Tuesdays with Morrie" is required? Is "Marley and Me" required too?

  4. Yeah, to be honest, the list above is a little dated for required summer reading and maybe even for required reading during the year also. _A Tale of Two Cities_ and _Things Fall Apart_ are the only two I guarantee are taught where I teach.

    Also, even more depressing, a lot of schools no longer require summer assignments because of parent complaints that schools should not intervene in children's lives during off hours, etc.

  5. _Marley and Me_ is not required. In terms of dog fiction, the classics are still revered. Students are required to watch _Old Yeller_ and _Benji_.

  6. Ethan Frome. For the love of God, Ethan Frome

  7. Haha. Totally agree on the Frome, but I save all of my hatred for "The Grapes of Wrath". At one point, I wanted Rose of Sharon to die just so it would end, and the torment would be over.

  8. To each his own. The problem with required reading is, it's more "To everyone, my own." I'm all for required reading that offers choices.

    I actually really liked IVANHOE. And THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA is actually the only Hemingway novel that didn't make me gag. A PASSAGE TO INDIA didn't do much for me. I haven't read the others, mostly because I heard so many book reports on tehm that I lost interest in reading them.

  9. Ivanhoe was a surreal experience. The class I was in was the only class in the county that read it, just b/c the teacher wanted to make sure we all saw his chainmail collection. several times over.

  10. I can agree on the other four, but how you can dislike A Tale of Two Cities is beyond me. Charles is a personal friend, and really, his best known work has all the violence, romance and intrigue you could want, but with some real style backing it up. Oh, and he practically invented the cliffhanger.

  11. People will hate me, but I'm gonna go with Mary Shelley's FRANKENSTEIN.

    I mean, if we wanted a story that would completely change its tone, character, and overall mood halfway through, wouldn't we just go rent Psycho and see it done right?

  12. I hate RED BADGE OF COURAGE. Well, probably. I mean, I *would* hate it if I had actually *read* it.

    Also CRYING OF LOT 49, which might as well have been written in Chinese for as much as I understood it.

  13. There is absolutely no book more painfully boring, offensive and pointless than Thomas Hardy's TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES, which I had to read in high school.

    Basically, a poor young woman gets raped by a wealthy man, has his sickly child that dies and spends the rest of her life (and the next 400 pages) discovering that society hates her for being a "whore." Like all impure women in literature, she is deprived of love and any other fulfilling relationship and is eventually executed for killing the man that raped her. Because, you know, she opened her legs (unwillingly!) in the beginning of the book so she's gotta die in the end!

    Same sort of thing with THE SCARLET LETTER - boring and punishing women for being sexual human beings.

  14. "The Most Dangerous Game". I will never understand how that relates to Freshman Composition.

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  16. What about "Jane Eyre" or it's prequel "Wide Sargasso Sea"? "Walden" is pretty painful as well.


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