None of my friends read in their spare time on a regular basis. I think this is because as students, we grew up with assigned readings that we dreaded reading and analyzing. Therefore, a lot of college students and recent grads that I know scoff and roll their eyes at their thought of reading “for fun” in their spare time. For reference, I’m surrounded by business and engineering majors, so not typically people who are known to read for fun.
Reading has been my hobby ever since I became literate. I learned from a young age that reading is fun and fulfilling, and I didn’t simply associate it with class-assigned readings. I’m glad that I started reading books early on because since I didn’t enjoy my assigned readings in English Literature classes, I wouldn’t have started reading as a hobby if I weren’t already a bookworm.
Assigned books for class are just incredibly unappealing to me. I think I’ve only ever fully read one class-assigned book.
That book was Passage by Connie Willis. It was sophomore year of high school, and I only finished this book because of the unique circumstances. The teacher gave the class a choice of five different books, and the students got to choose which one they read. The premise of Passage was the most interesting to me, so I chose to read that. However once I made my decision, my English teacher made it a point to take me aside and emphasize that it was a long book (yeah, it was 780 pages) and suggested that I read another book because this one was more than twice as long as the other options. She only tried to persuade me to read a different book because the only other two students who chose to read this book were frequent class participators and diligent about their English class assignments, unlike me. I was of course insulted, and went on to read this book in its entirety long before the end of the semester. However, this was a one-off case for me.
Here are three reasons why I don’t enjoy reading assigned books:
- The pace.
As a reader, I don’t like having someone tell me to read only a set amount of chapters on a weekly basis. Sure, I know that I could have read more than the assigned number of pages, but I’ve tried it out and was even more frustrated when I did that. If I’m chapters ahead of the class, I want to bang my head on my desk when the teacher is dwelling on all of the possible meanings of a symbol that’s obviously a foreshadow, and I already know what happens later in the book.
I probably finished reading Passage, as mentioned earlier, because of its unique assigned reading pace – since the book was so long, my teacher encouraged my group to read continuously, instead of in chunks.
- The intense focus on the smallest things.
Okay, I get that some of the small things in assigned readings are really important because of symbols, motifs, and all of that fun stuff. However, when a teacher wants me to take note of the number of times the color white is mentioned or alluded to in the next five chapters, I can’t help but become unmotivated from reading the assigned book.
- The reminder that I’ll need to write a 5-page paper on this.
“Oh, and don’t forget to abide by MLA when you write about all the different meanings that the color white can have in the context of this book.”
It might just be me, but when I’m reminded every other class what certain symbols and details can be used for the next essay, it makes the book harder to read. It may be because I have always disliked writing essays for classes, but this aspect of assigned readings has pushed me to read chapter summaries instead.
I’m not sure if I’m the only bookworm who experiences this dislike for and inability to read class-assigned readings. From what other bloggers have written and from discussions that I’ve participated in, I know that a lot of bookworms genuinely enjoy their class readings. For instance, people talk about how much they loved reading The Scarlet Letter, Fahrenheit 451, Crime and Punishment, The Awakening, etc. for their English Literature classes, while I’m over here like… Yeah, those CliffsNotes were great. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure those books are very well-written and have deep and important underlying themes, but I just couldn’t bring myself to fully read them since they were class assignments.
After writing all of this out, I feel like I’m a bad book blogger. I get the vibe that a lot of book bloggers are English and Literature majors, so obviously people who enjoy reading books for classes. Do I even deserve the title of “avid reader” anymore? This is how I’ve always felt about English class readings though, and I remember procrastinating on my assigned readings by buying and reading the newest book release. Now that I think of it, that’s similar to what I do now – I still procrastinate on my homework assignments (even though they’re not English classes anymore, thank goodness) by buying and reading books. I guess that could redeem me for my lack of love for English Literature assigned readings?
What are your thoughts on this? Do you enjoy reading class-assigned books?