October 15, 2013

Books I was forced to read

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Inspired by Ariel Bissett’s video and the theme of this week’s Top Ten Tuesday I’m gonna talk about my experience with required reading. I’m not gonna go into detail about what exactly went down in my schools, I’ll just copy my comments on Ariel’s video down here. The first one’s about elementary school or the period when I was between 6 to 12 years old.

My elementary school didn't really care if you read or not. There was this weekly activity where older kids sat down with a few younger kids to help them read books. It didn't excourage you to read at all, you just wanted to read as fluently as possible to get out of there. I didn't read anything in my free time when I was younger because I thought reading was stupid. I regret that now of course...

This one is about how it went in high school (12 to 18 years old):

High schools here (Belgium) seem to only care about the book reports you deliver in 4 times a year. We got a list with a bunch of books on it (Dutch 'literature' and for English a wide range of different genres) and we could choose which ones we'd want to read and write a report on. Everyone ended up reading different books and reading them on their own. I'm pretty sure none of us ever finished a book, we got most of our information off the internet. Book reports are pointless in my opinion because I didn't get to understand the book better nor had I any fun typing them.
I read Animal Farm because I wanted to, not because it was required. I also didn't analyse the story and didn't get to discuss it with others. Our high schools definitely need to change their method of making people read literature. Did your high school provide the books you were required to read? Because if so then that's something they should consider doing over here.

I never enjoyed typing a book report, I hated to do it more than I hated studying for a math test and that’s saying  a lot. I never enjoyed reading the books I read during the six years of high school. Maybe I liked one. One of 24+ books I’ve read. And ‘read’ is a big word because I practically never finished a book. Now let’s talk about some books I’ve read for school for both Dutch and English.

I don’t like to read Dutch books anymore because I’ve created an idea in my mind that all of them are about crazy old men or men/women obsessed with sex. Or that they have weird plotlines in general (if there is a plot). In all those years I’ve only liked one book: De Leraar by Bart Koubaa. It was witty in some kind of way, the writing style was fun to read. The plotline was a little f-ed up though. It was weird. But an acceptable read compared to other ones.

For English (and I’m talking about the last 2 years of the 6) we didn’t have to read classics and that’s why practically no one did. It wasn’t exactly encouraged to pick the classics off the reading list but since I feel kind of guilty about not knowing much about the English classics, I read mostly books that are considered as ‘a classic’. I read Animal Farm, I tried to read Brave New World but I couldn’t get into it and I read Gulliver’s Travels (only the first few chapters because I didn’t have enough time to finish it entirely). As you can see my reading was disastrous.
In my first 4 years of having an English class we were free to read whatever. In the beginning it was encouraged to read easy books because our English was far from good. Then we slowly started to read other things. I can’t remember what I’ve read back then but I do remember not finishing all of them.

You should let me know what books you were required to read in school and tell me what you thought of them. Did you have to write book reports as well?

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