With three months left to finish the Read Harder 2018 challenge, I’ve been putting off the toughest category on the list: an assigned book you hated or never finished. For obvious reasons — who wants to reread a book they hated?
My mind immediately jumped to my own book-nemesis, Jane Eyre. So many bloggers count this one among their favorite classics, but it’s one I never cared for, and can’t even say for sure I finished. It’s one of those stories you know whether you’ve read it or not. I want to give it another shot, but here it’s almost October and I haven’t picked it up yet. Sigh. At least its gothic setting will make it a suitable October read.
My dislike of Jane Eyre began in middle school, when a teacher assigned the girls to read Jane Eyre and the boys to read All Quiet on the Western Front. I’ve always hated having to do anything because I’m a girl, and to this day I find it hard to believe a teacher would actually assign books by gender. But that’s what I remember.
For those on Goodreads, there’s a great discussion group for Read Harder, which is very helpful when one needs suggestions. This got me thinking about assigned books other than Jane Eyre I didn’t like or didn’t read. Here’s what I came up with. As someone who took years of literature classes in high school and college, I had a fair amount to choose from. (As a side note, I was quite surprised by the number of people who said they grew up in educational programs that didn’t assign books.)
I’m also not a big Henry James or F. Scott Fitzgerald fan, but I’ve read those on my own, not for assignments. And don’t really feel the need to revisit them.
For the record, I’m treating the term “assigned books” as classics because I always want to read more classics — clearly an assigned book doesn’t have to be what we think of as classic.
I will also note that when I looked at the ReadHarder 2018 list of suggested books for this category, their list was surprisingly like my own! So maybe this list wasn’t quite as original as I thought — either (1) these are commonly disliked books, (2) I read and internalized their suggestions, or (3) they somehow KNOW what books I hated.
I’ll throw this out to my readers – first, what’s an assigned book that you hated or didn’t read (and today wonder if you’d feel differently?)
And second, is there a book on my list that you think I should read? Anything that makes you say “Give that one another try!”
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