Aaah, the first fresh page of my seasonal reading endeavor ! As it is over halfway through September, I will only be posting 2 small books for the formal reading list.
September is back to school season. Every other TV commercial seems to promote some back-to-school sale, store aisles are crammed with jeans and backpacks and highlighters of every color imaginable. And then there’s me, still not willing to accept that I am done with school (for now).
As I nostalgically rifled through all my old school papers, I remembered a favorite English teacher of mine who had an unnaturally strong dislike of Walt Whitman. Every chance he got he would cast a verbal dagger at the American poet, labeling him an idiot’s Henry David Thoreau. But this was also coming from a man who thought Old Man and the Sea was more worthwhile than A Tale of Two Cities, so perhaps I ought to cast aside 5 years of undue avoidance of this man who is generally accepted as brilliant outside of my 10th grade English classroom.
September 2013 Book #1: Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman:
Just the title of this book of poetry seems to emanate that September feeling. The grass is still green, but is slowly becoming strewn with pops of yellow leaves all being blown around together by the ever approaching winter wind.
I used to absolutely love poetry, the same teacher who hated Walt Whitman started a Poetry Club at my high school and it was the highlight of my week. It comprised of me and all my friends, and we played creative word games and critiqued each other’s work and even wrote a few collaborative pieces. It was just such an inspiring and elevating environment, and I am looking forward to getting back into the poetry scene (just in time for scarf season!).
All this reminiscence of high school got me thinking…
What other “classic American authors” do the world cherish that I have never been exposed to in school. I recalled an author that I did not particularly like, but feel semi-obligated as a human being to give a second chance.
September 2013 Book #2: The Prince and the Pauper, by Mark Twain
The bookworm part of my soul feels unnaturally obligated to the literary world. It doesn’t matter if I hate the first few pages or I immediately find the plot drab and lackluster: if it’s considered a Classic, I keep in on the shelf under penalty of being shunned from the literary world by the ghosts of these famous authors.
This summer I tried to force myself to read Tom Sawyer, and I didn’t quite get past the first chapter. While I certainly appreciate the use (the strong strong use) of dialect and the infusion of Mississippi culture from the time, I like many others before me found it a bit challenging to overlook the overt racism, not to mention the awful grammar (though culturally accurate for the time) on this piece. Was there a way to say “I’ve read Mark Twain” without having to endure the nail-on-the-chalkboard jargon? But of course! Avoid the Mississippi River Valley altogether and float on over to Tudor England for a tale of class discrimination, friendship, and wonderful grammar!
In a sense, this month’s reading list is just like back to school: you begin a bit apprehensively. You must say goodbye to the certain joys of summer and explore the unknown subjects of a new academic year (not to mention, both these guys have quite admirable facial hair). So far, I have every reason to believe that I will dislike these books, and yet I will read them because, like school, the vast majority of people believe them to be worth some time.
Reviews for these two books will be out by the end of the month! I look forward to hearing your thoughts on these literary works as well.