Sunday, December 15, 2013

Required Reading: How School-Issued Books Can Actually Be Good

Hi, Readers!

       I decided to change it up this week instead of doing a regular book review because I am beginning to get that holiday-laziness.  This week on Book Savvy (drumroll please), I am discussing school-required reading books.  Now, a lot of my AP English classmates hate reading in general (WHYYYYY?!), but a select few enjoy delving into the depths of our required reading books with me.  Some of these books actually do put me to sleep.  Yes, I'm talking about you, Great Expectations.  However, I have  been getting into the books that we are reading this year!  I just saw a quote saying, "Some books help you pass a midterm.  Others get you through life."  So true for the books below.

Easy A      My favorite school-required reading book to date would have to be The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne.  Aside from being an amazing story, it clearly relates to modern-day society.  In case you haven't read The Scarlet Letter, it's a historical fiction novel about a woman named Hester Prynne who has committed adultery in seventeenth-century Puritan Society.  She becomes entrapped within a web of deceit and lies alongside her adulterer, her husband, and her daughter, and the only way to escape the moral labyrinth is through death.  One of my favorite parts about The Scarlet Letter is Hawthorne's unbelievable use of symbolism.  Some quick examples of symbolism in the novel are sunlight, darkness, the rose bush, Pearl, and weeds.  Another great aspect of the novel is the suspense - I almost wanted to read ahead in order to find out what happened next.  Although The Scarlet Letter is set in the seventeenth-century, it can be seen through modern entertainment and media.  An obvious example is the movie Easy A, starring Emma Stone.  The novel's undertones of lying and deceit are also shown in the popular Pretty Little Liars series and the song Demons, by Imagine Dragons.  It's so cool that, how after reading the novel, I was able to compare seventeenth-century Puritan Society to 2013.

Their Eyes Were Watching God      Another one of my favorite school required reading books would have to be the one that I am reading right now, Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston.  This novel is certainly less well-known than The Scarlet Letter, but Hurson's writing style is so distinct and full of voice that it deserves to be recognized.  Here's a quick summary: Janie Crawford is an African American living in the South a couple of decades after the Emancipation Proclamation is announced.  Both Janie's mother and her grandmother have not lived lives of privilege, so her grandmother arranges a marriage for Janie with a creepy man named Logan Killicks.  Janie quickly runs away with Joe Sparks, but still feels unfulfilled.  She must continue to do whatever is necessary for love while navigating dangerous racial and gender-based issues.  When I first picked up this novel, I thought it would be the hardest book that I had ever read because of the character dialogue.  Hurston types dialogue exactly as it sounds.  For example, when Janie is hungry, her friend Pheoby says, "Ah knowed you'd be hongry.  No time to be huntin' stove wood after dark.  Mah mutallo rice ain't so good dis time.  Not enough bacon grease, but Ah reckon it'll kill hongry" (5).  It took me at least five minutes to figure out that Pheoby was saying that she would give Janie food.  The entire novel is written in this manner, but I have come to enjoy reading it out loud.  Another interesting part of Their Eyes Were Watching God is the historical perspective about race and gender.  Janie is a mix between a feminist and a romantic, which makes it difficult for her to find love.  All in all, I may have even enjoyed reading this book even if it was not a school-required reading book, which is saying a lot!

       A couple of other school-required reading books that were better than I expected were Lord of the Flies, Nickel and Dimed, and Romeo and Juliet.  I probably wouldn't have ever read these books on my own, but they all gave me new perspectives that have helped me to become a better reader and a well-rounded individual.

Lord of the FliesNickel and DimedRomeo and Juliet

       These school-required reading books are excellent pieces of literature that everybody should read.  On a side note, in case you haven't noticed, I decided to make a management decision for Book Savvy and link all novel titles to Goodreads instead of Amazon Books from now on.  Goodreads gives a more accurate summary and reader reviews, and it also links up to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and tons of other online bookstores.  Thanks for reading, and please remember to comment and follow me by e-mail or GCF.

Happy Holidays!

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