The following stories are my reasons for why I read what I do and why I am wanting to teach literature to High Schoolers and hopefully one day college students.
The Odd Man Out Story
My parents are the reason for my love of reading. Both of my parents were very supportive in helping me read a lot growing up. My mom would take me to the library and let me look for hours for the right book never complaining once. My dad is always reading or learning something which was a good example to watch growing up. With the home life being as positive as it was I could get lost in a book in no time and never want to come up for air. I cannot count how many times I have said, “after this chapter I will go to bed,” and then stayed up for another hour or two or three…
This made me the odd man out with all of my friends. There were those who did sports (yuck!) and those who were lazy and barely did the assigned readings for class leaving me to be the one who loved to read all kinds of books that they never even looked at. I had some friends who would read here or there, but I was always the one with my nose stuck in a book.
The Twilight Story
I was introduced to Twilight in the 8th grade. I took it with me on a trip to Missouri where I finished it in less than two days. I had read things before and enjoyed them, but I had never read something that had captured my attention so wholly. I became a little obsessed (maybe a bit of an understatement). I finished 1-3 because book 4 wasn’t written yet. This series is important to who I am because even though now I see the error in my ways it was probably the first series to get me into reading all the time for fun. I reread this series I want to say about 3 or 4 times. This is also one story all of my friends got into. By 9th grade everyone had read it. This was one of the biggest series of my time as a teenager. It has been 8 years already and people are still talking about it. It no longer is something I want to read but it really helped me become who I am today by giving me a book that opened up a whole world of reading I had never seen before.
The Book Club Story
In the 10th grade I joined the Gering High School book club. We read a few books, but the one that stuck out to me was Hunger Games. We decided to read it as a group, I am sure I never would have read it if not for this club. I loved going to the meetings and enjoyed talking with others who enjoyed reading as much as I did. As I mentioned above my friends weren’t really the reading type.
For the club we only had to read the beginning chapters for the first meeting and this was one of those times I said “after this chapter its time for bed,” and I read until there was only a few chapters left. It, like all the other books from book club, was good and easy to read. Being a part of this club and being surrounded by fellow book lovers helped me grow as a reader and as a person.
The Scarlet Letter Story
I am not a fan of The Scarlet Letter. There I said it. As an English Education major most people would assume I like all the classics. They would be wrong. The story of my reading of The Scarlet Letter doesn’t help at all as to why I could barely get through it. I was in 11th grade and had read about 3 chapters during the time my teacher had allotted during the class periods. I was a bit of a procrastinator I guess you could say. I started reading the rest of the book around 7pm the night before it was due. Bad idea.
I had figured I was a fast reader so it shouldn’t take me long at all right? Wrong. I hadn’t taken into account that I only read fast when the book is enjoyable. The Scarlet Letter wasn’t even semi-enjoyable. I had to set an alarm on my phone for every 30 minutes to make sure I stayed awake. I was up until 5am reading this long, boring, dragging book. I then got a few hours of sleep and had to go to class the next day. I got to class and my friend hadn’t even touched the book. I may be a procrastinator, but there is no way in hell I would not do an assignment. I had dutifully yet begrudgingly read this awful book all for a grade.
This experience in 11th grade made me realize not all reading is necessarily good reading, but I did learn more about myself through this experience. This fact will help me as a teacher to understand why it is hard for some students to get through some books. It also may help me to help them through the books a little easier. I will not blindly go into the classroom assuming they will love every book I assign because I know I didn’t when I was in high school. The Scarlet Letter was not the first book I read and didn’t like during high school, but it was the last. After this we read The Great Gatsby, and the following year was The Picture of Dorian Gray. Which I loved so much I have done 3 different papers on it throughout my school years. Maybe I should give Hawthorne another chance now that I am older.
My Love/Hate Story
To have book that you appreciate yet hate is an odd yet wonderful feeling. I have had two of these in my life that I can truly say made me love/hate them and left me thinking deeply about them days after I had put them back on the shelf.
The first is Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. This book messed me up. I have never gotten along with any outlet, be that movie or book, where it does not end my way. This book did not. I knew what was coming and had to set it down for a week with only 50 pages left before I could finish it with tears streaming down my face. I had to stop and think and realize that though I did not get my way she had truly made me get into the story and care about what was going on. How many authors can truly make you appreciate their writing and characters enough that you care when someone dies or doesn’t get their way? I had come to care so much that when I read the next book she wrote I wasn’t prepared to move on quite yet.
The next book is The Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson. This book I read for a class in college so it is much more recent, but it truly has made such an impact on me I decided to add it into my important book moments. Her story line is mind boggling. The idea of it is so interesting it took me a while to truly wrap my head around the concept she presents. I am usually not a science fiction reader, but I am glad I read this one. It opens your mind to new ideas. I would be fully in love with this book if it weren’t for her random parts she presents that it could do without. She wants to show love with the two characters throughout the different parts, but in my opinion sex does not equal love it equals sex. And making a 3 sentence “sex” scene does nothing for the book. With that said it is a good book I would recommend to others because it truly changed my life.
These books are so important because they changed even now the way I look at books. They don’t all need to be “brain candy” or happy endings for it to be a good book and make an impact on someone’s life. If anything it has shown me a new side of books I never realized as a teen, and was able to help me read outside my comfort zone a bit.