Reading for the "Right" Reasons

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"Indeed there is great benefit and pleasure to be derived from just savoring a work-- following the patterns of narrative and conflict, getting to like the characters, understanding the world's implications, and suggestions....Nevertheless, ideas are vital to understanding and appreciating literature: Writers have ideas and want to communicate them" (Roberts 120).

I know we keep coming back to this, but I think it's necessary to stress: Literature should be enjoyed.  I know we all had issues with The Quick and the Dead, and some of us had problems with John Henry Days, because the books were difficult to follow, and even summarizing certain chapters of those books would have been a chore.  However, I still enjoyed The Quick and the Dead (I liked John Henry Days, too, but I'm just going to focus on one of the books).  Many of the lines were extremely poetic; some chapters read more like prose than an actual novel.  The author interspersed some humor within the text, and the characters ,while strange, were fun to get to know.

If someone asked me what was going on at the end, I would probably excuse myself while I went to find the book, and never come back, but I can still say the book was one of my favorites this semester.  Even while we search for meaning throughout text, let's not forget the reason most of us chose to study English in the first place: love of reading. 



Brooke Kuehn said:

I wrote about a similar topic in my blog so i mentioned you in my blog with a link. I also enjoyed The Quick and the Dead, but there were times that i had to force myself to read it. It must be difficult for teachers to find a piece of literature that the whole class will enjoy. At least one person is almost always guaranteed to hate it. I seriously think or maybe im just wishful hoping that teachers would add at least one "escape" book for the class. Im sure we could learn something from it somehow. Wouldn't it be nice to read something for fun right around now but as an assignment? Ah care to dream.

Melissa Schwenk said:

Sometimes the fact that you're struggling to understand something is frustrating, but at the same time it's kind of interesting. It allows you to get closer to the writer, which may not be important to everything you read. However, I think it's interesting to get inside the mind of another person and see how someone else perceives the world or even thinks about a certain topic. So maybe you don't understand everything that happened at the end of The Quick and the Dead, but the story was still good, and I feel like if I ever met Joy Williams I'd have some idea the writer's thought process.

Also, Brooke, I think that the story, A Christmas Carol, that we have to read soon will be slightly easier to read and understand than the stuff we've previously been reading.

Brooke Kuehn said:

Melissa, good point... maybe A Christmas Carol will fit the profile of our "fun" piece of literature. Maus was also fairly easy, but its depressive qualities tainted the "fun" aspect. On a different note, I wonder if all novels reflect the thought process of the author... just a thought. My Children's Lit professor, Dr. McClain, said she met the author of Clementine( which we just read). Clementine was the main character, the narrator, and seemingly a child with some sort of attention disorder. Dr. McClain said when she met the author, it was like talking to an adult version of Clementine.

Kayla Lesko said:

I liked John Henry Days... right until the plot disappeared. As for Quick and the Dead... I had no idea what the hell was going on. I prefer the things I read to have a plot and not just random moments.

Jessie Krehlik said:

Josie, I blogged about the same thing (I can't figure out how to link to it though...) I hated it in high school when my teachers would tell me that I had to find the theme for everything we read. Like you said, sometimes you just need to be able to enjoy yourself while you read, and if you happen across a theme, even better. But I'm also sick of people always saying that there is only one particular theme for each story--literature is always up to interpretation,so why should we focus so much on finding the perfect theme? It's so nice to read for fun. Sometimes I feel like literature classes actually turn me off from reading on my own, because I end up overanalyzing everything.

Josie: It's so hard to distance myself from what my high school teachers pounded into my head, which was to analyze everything. Maybe that's why watching TV is sometimes more enjoyable than reading now, and that's sad to say because I was most definitely a Rory when I was younger.

Brooke: You're right about the fact that there will always be someone who won't like a book, so I think even assigning an escape book for us to read for fun would still result in someone not liking it and therefore not finding the experience fun. Also, I think it's very likely that a book reflects the thought processes of the author, but I don't think that is always the case. An author can distance themselves if they want, but I don't see why an author would want to express something they didn't believe unless they were satirizing it.

Melissa: That is exactly why I like reading. It gives you the opportunity to look at things from another perspective.

Kayla: I have to disagree with you. I feel like The Quick and the Dead most definitely had a plot and not just random moments, it was just difficult to understand what it was.

Jessie: When I was in high school, I was actually very weary of working in the English field because I thought it would turn me off from reading for fun. I'm happy to say that it hasn't, but I read a lot less over winter and summer breaks than I used to.

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