Let's Talk is a weekly feature here at i swim for oceans. I think it's important that we all have our say, and there's something to be said for raising our voices. Simply put, here on the little old blog, I like to host some of my very own discussion posts because, well, I like to converse with you all.
And so, Let's Talk will feature questions or prompts, which I will answer, too. Love it or hate it, weigh in or don't, it's my hope that Let's Talk will at least get you thinking...and maybe even get you discussing with the rest of us!
What required reading from school made the biggest impact on you, and why?
I was a bit contrarian in high school. I'm a reader. You all know this...it's kind of obvious by the fact that I've been blogging about the books I've read for the past three and a half years. With all that said though, I had the biggest aversion to required reading in middle school and high school. Guys, I'll read just about anything once. Hell, just put me in a hall of books, and I'll read my way out of there. Force me, however, to read something for grades, and something in me shuts down.
In most cases, my mind pretty much just says, "Nope. Not happening. You make me read? I say no." I remember forcing myself to read The Once and Future King, Les Miserable, A Talk of Two Cities and more - classics, mind you - and suffering through them. I think it was the fact that I couldn't enjoy them at my leisure. Instead, I had to cram and read for detail, instead of pleasure.
Three books stand out to me from my school days, however, as literary works that I didn't absolutely mind reading. And, years later, I re-read them and remember just how profound they were the first time around.
All three of these books - Night by Elie Wiesel, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and The Giver by Lois Lowry managed to get past my ardent stigma against required reading.
They're vastly different books, but there's something similar about them, as well. They weren't just flowery prose for the sake of telling the story. They were powerful, profound, and they taught us a lesson without cramming it down our throats. There's a beauty to that that simply can't be matched by novels about medieval times and such. Now, to be fair, I'm sure the other books were profound to many a reader, and I've read them since my school days and found them to be rather enjoyable.
I'm not sure they match the poignancy, the power or the social context that Night, Fahrenheit 451 or The Giver do though. I think that these three are books that every teen needs to read, regardless of whether for pleasure or for school. They will make you think, they will make you feel and they will stay with you long after the last page.