Blog Post Prompt: Prepare a list of five works (fiction, poetry, drama, history, science, engineering, or business non-fiction) that you have read over the past year that you have most enjoyed. For each piece, write 3-5 sentences about your attachment to the work. Consider whether each reading was a non required reading or a text for class. How might we enjoy the reading we do for school just as much as the reading we do on our own?
- Blood of Olympus
- The Hobbit
- The Wide Awake Princess
- The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
- The Falconer
Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan This book was the end of one of my favorite series of all time. I first met the main character of the prequel series Percy Jackson when I was in elementary school. His sass and his story have gotten me through some tough years, and it is a story I keep coming back to: reading and rereading even though I know the story by heart. When I first finished this book, I wrote a post about it to say goodbye and thank you to the characters who have shaped the person I am today, and to the author who provided me with hours of adventure.
The Hobbit by J.R. Tolkien I’m not going to lie: this story was a tough one to get through. There’s a lot of detail in the not so exciting parts, and a fast pace in the exciting parts. I finished it on the flight back from London over winter break, which was a good time to be reading it because I got to sit on the top floor of the British Library while I read the chapter about The Battle of the Five Armies. But while I remember having a hard time reading it because of how slowly it moves, I also remember how good the story is and how cool it was to see Bilbo Baggins grow.
The Wide Awake Princess by E.D. Baker I have read this book more times than I can remember, but still I come back to it. This book, Baker’s book Wings, and her series The Frog Princess are books I’ve been reading since late elementary school, but there are ones I return to time and time again. Her characters are spunky and sass and don’t take “no” for an answer, the stories make me laugh at the shenanigans the characters get into, and the books are the perfect read when I’m busy with school because since I know the endings so well, there’s no rush to the end.
The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams This was my summer reading for school this past summer, and is one of my friend’s favorite books. It reminded me of my summer reading the year before, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, because of the sci-fi qualities and the unpredictability. And as someone who is not a huge fan of science, I find it really interesting that I enjoy sci-fi books and stories. This book leaned more towards the biology side of science-fiction, rather than the physics side like in The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, with new creatures and new thoughts on old creatures, which reminded me of Doctor Who, one of my favorite shows.
The Falconer by Grant Lichtman This list didn’t feel entirely complete without this book. I was pushed by Mr. Adams and Mrs. Cureton to read this book because of work that I had been doing on the topic of the redesign of education. I definitely thought of things differently after reading The Falconer: what school could look like, what it means to solve a problem, and what exactly a problem even is. I ended up writing a blog post based on a question posed in the book: Is Gravity a Concept or a Principle? I also got to talk with the author, which was an interesting experience in and of itself, and one I wish I had more often.
I’ve loved reading for a really long time – about 8-9 years now – and I’ve read a lot of books both for class and for me. I’ve found that personally, I don’t necessarily dislike a book just because we’re reading it for a class: I dislike a book because I dislike the story itself. I think a book, no matter what you read it for, is either going to be enjoyable or be terrible. And in my experience and from my observations, the people who don’t like the reading we do in class and so proudly refuse to read just aren’t reading the right stories. I have friends, too, who love to read but haven’t read a full book for school since middle school because they don’t like the books and don’t see the purpose of reading it if they can get by without doing it.
In short, I think it’s important to think about the culture students live in now and what they read for fun when picking the books they have to read in class, rather than just going with the “classics.” There are plenty of literary criticisms in today’s books, if that’s what you’re worried about.