Book Club Classics -Classics Meme!

In order to promote her new site, LitGuides.com (a site dedicated to helping teachers/students navigate classic lit), Kristen over at Book Club Classics has started her first meme – and S. Krishna has tagged me for it! The questions are below, and I’m tagging: Katleen, unfinishedperson, meghan, Mrs. Hall, and Traci.

  1. What is the best classic you were “forced” to read in school (and why)?
  2. What was the worst classic you were forced to endure (and why)?
  3. Which classic should every student be required to read (and why)?
  4. Which classic should be put to rest immediately (and why)?
  5. **Bonus** Why do you think certain books become classics?

What is the best classic you were “forced” to read in school (and why)?

The best classic I was “forced” to read was The Pearl by John Steinbeck. I was in 7th grade, and this book was my introduction to critical reading. It was the first time I was taught I could think for myself, not just espouse my parents’ ideas. When I started teaching my daughter to read the same way, The Pearl was our first book. The school’s no longer seem to be teaching logic and reason, only sheep-think.

What was the worst classic you were forced to endure (and why)?

Oh gawd! That would be Walden by Henry David Thoreau. I seriously do not think most teenager have the patience for this largely philosophical book. It bored me to tears, and most likely went over my head. I should try to reread it, but I’m just not that masochistic!

Which classic should every student be required to read (and why)?

To be honest, and I’m sure this will offend a few people, The Bible. My reason for saying this is, in our Western society, so much of our collective conscious comes from this classic. Shakespeare took from Solomon’s writings, the moralities many books are built around are Judeo-Christian ethics, and most social structures stem from it. We would not be the society we are without The Bible.

Which classic should be put to rest immediately (and why)?

I really don’t know of any that should be put to rest. Maybe some should be saved for older ages, but a classic is a classic because it is always relevant.  Even Harry Potter is relevent for all ages (though I don’t think I’d count it as a classic yet.  We’ll have to see how it goes).

Why do you think certain books become classics?

As I said above, a classic is always relevant. It’s not restricted to it’s own time or place, but speaks to everyone, everywhere, at any time. It reveals something of humor nature, whether it’s arrogance and assumption as in Pride and Prejudice, or the desire to be important and matter as in Vanity Fair, or the evils of the pursuit of power and control as in Animal Farm and 1984. Sometimes they warn us not to give up our power because of fear as in The Giver and Fahrenheit 451, and some mock society to reveal it’s failings as we read in Candide and Le Tartuffe. They challenge us to think and act, and broaden our views of the world around us.

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10 Responses

  1. I think I would agree with you, as controversial as it may be, that the Bible should be recommended reading. I went to a private, Catholic school where we discussed the Bible all the time and later, as an English major in college, I found that my background of understanding was richer than other students who were not familiar with the Bible. It comes up in all kinds of literature from classics to contemporary. I think there’s definitely a way to approach it from a literary perspective rather than a religious one (this is evident from the different kinds of college courses that are offered in it – different courses through the English and religion departments) but even so, some might still view it as a contentious issue.

  2. I’ve responded here! I really do agree with you on the last question, and I think you said it a lot better than I did. Thanks for tagging me! =)

  3. I actually agree with you on the Bible. I’m not Christian, but went to Catholic school from 4th grade through 12th for school and I was amazed in college how much more insight I had into literature in my classes than others who went to public schools because I was familiar with the Bible!

  4. And by the way, I LOVED your answer to the last question – perfect!

  5. Here is my response to the meme.

  6. Thanks for playing! I’m so glad to have now found your site, too — one of the best perks of memes, I think. I look forward to stopping by often, now!! 🙂

  7. I’m in the middle of moving, so it’s taken me a bit of time to get through this, but I’ve got my response up now. Off to unpack more boxes – if only they were all filled with books…

  8. Thanks for tagging me! I’ll get on that asap.

  9. Oh, and it really is a pretty ballet book. I totally rec it!

  10. The Bible huh? Well I didn’t have to read that in high schoo, although I know my cousin’s summer reading one year was the Book of Job… but I see what you’re saying about it. I’m a Catholic (although arguably not a very good one!) so I’ve read a lot over the years for CCD classes and stuff even though I went to public high school. When I got to college, my freshman seminar was about religion and literature, and we had to read a lot of The Bible for that.

    Okay, finally posted this: my answers are here:
    http://kbookreviews.wordpress.com/2008/07/17/book-club-classics-classics-meme/

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