Forced to Read Helps?

What? Being forced to read makes me like to read more? Sounds crazy, I know. It’s probably contrary to what most people experience, but being in an AP English class with plenty of novels to read, I found this to be the case for me.

I normally don’t like reading. I’d rather write write write. However, in order to become a good writer it is entirely true that you need to be a good reader (unless you’re one of those prodigy oral-story-tellers).

I am forced to read novels in my class that I otherwise wouldn’t care to pick up.

“Grapes of Wrath,” “Killer Angels,” “Brave New World,” “Scarlet Letter,” “Wuthering Heights,” “Pride and Prejudice,” “Moby-Dick,” are just a few of the novels I have been ordered to read, and guess what? I’ve liked all of them! Now, I must admit there’s only been one book I’ve read in my life that I haven’t liked (Jacob Have I Loved), but none of these were really that bad. “Killer Angels,” though really hard to get into, had me crying by the end and screaming at the characters as well. “Scarlet Letter” was not my favorite, but it was definitely interesting and kind of like an old-fashioned conservative mystery. And “Brave New World,” though it was the STRANGEST book I have ever encountered, definitely held some important messages. The others listed I have fallen in love with, but I never would have read them if I hadn’t been forced to.

In fact, I like reading more now because of it. I’m still just as lazy when it comes to picking up the book, such as “Moby-Dick” (intriguing from the start), but it doesn’t take me long to get entrapped in its pages.

And now I’m willing to once again try J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” after it originally bored me to death with such long elaboration on detail.

See, that’s another interesting tidbit: it’s easier to read large books. It can become a habit in a way. The more classic books you read, or the larger/more advanced they are, the easier it is to understand them. It’s not like an actual lesson is always necessary to understand them. Rather, it’s all based on the idea of your relationship with the book. That is to say, the key factor is in feeling comfortable with it, not understanding every sentence written.

So don’t be afraid! Classic novels are classic for a reason. 🙂 Sure, some of them have odd dialects, strange or paragraph-length sentences, but once you read enough of it you’ll realize that it’s not really that hard.

Ask anyone who had to read Shakespeare. It’s hard at first, but by the time you finish it you feel a lot better. Same goes for unfamiliar dialects. One character in “Wuthering Heights” had an awful accent. Now, I still partly blame the author for not writing it better (she was only 16), but I did learn to read faster for his parts and slur my words. That helped a lot. And the rest wasn’t that hard.

I’m very glad that I’m surrounded by enthusiastic English teachers and well-known advanced literature. I’m blessed to already be in love with it, but being forced to read these books really does help my understanding of them in general, and preps me for any other difficult literature that I find in my hands.

My advice: don’t spend your time complaining about having to read a crappy book. Odds are that either it’s only because you don’t understand it that you don’t like it, or if it really is that awful, there is always something to take from it. Remember that writing is one of the strongest methods of expression. The majority of works are trying to tell you something. It might be interesting to listen.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. cricketmuse
    Feb 05, 2012 @ 17:39:59

    That is interesting to hear that being forced to read books is making you read them more. Not what you would expect to hear. Gotta love AP.
    blue skies,


  2. abigailkrocker
    Feb 11, 2012 @ 21:59:15

    Yup 🙂 I really do love that class, especially since it’s so small. We are really able to dig through the material and enjoy it. Thanks for the comment!


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