Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Summer Reading/Reading in Summer

Hello everyone! I hope you are all having an absolutely wonderful hot and sticky summer, filled with evil cackles and many, many books.

Recently I've found a little corner of my backyard completely shielded by trees. I have strung up colored silks on a rope and now how have my own, otherworldly space. The light that filters through the trees meets ruffage on the ground and is a misty green, creating the illusion that I'm in a sort of limbo between the real world and my own. There is now a hammock in the center of this space, higher off the ground than any other hammock I've seen, and I've decorated it with flowers and leaves and, most importantly, books. There's nothing nicer than swaying in my book hammock, listening to the silks flap against the wind and the green sunlight sparkle through the trees.

When I am back there, I find it best to read books of completely alternate universes, because it is the perfect setting to lose myself. I've read lots of Harry Potter between those trees, as well as Utopian/Dystopian novels and Holocaust fiction. I just think solitude in the prettiest place I know is an excellent area to really think.

What have you found yourself reading this summer? Is it hard to read books when there is a world of summer and computers available to you? Or does the summery freedom make you read even more? I admit, I sometimes get caught up in the wonder of my laptop and neglect to think about the boundless worlds of books I could be immersing myself in. It happens to the best of us (she says humbly.)

My other topic in this particular post is summer reading assigned by school. This year (summer before eighth grade) we were assigned Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I was pretty excited, as I had never read this book and heard such wonderful things about it. But as I read, I found it getting tougher to keep my interest. I was bored by this classic and rather upset with myself. Why wasn't I enjoying it? Why did I find it humdrum, rather than fascinating? The explanation I at last arrived at was that I simply didn't have the context to appreciate this book yet. I was not reading it in school, with a teacher explaining to me how something is funny or decoding a reference or joke. Instead, I was ploughing through it on my own, trying only to finish. I don't think that is the way one is supposed to read Jane Austen. This is an instance in which I think the structure of school would have helped. There would be daily discussions and I would probably see the meaning behind the dialogue and action. Being assigned a certain number of pages would also have made it more manageable, I think. I am a fairly advanced reader, and that helped me understand what the words meant, but I couldn't make myself understand what was so wonderful and special about this book.

What is your view on school summer reading? Should schools leave us to our own devices during the break or is assigning books a good thing? Do you think some books are better read with the structure of a class?

Happy summer and happy reading!



Tay Darramont said...

I, too, once started to read Pride and Prejudice. But unlike you, for me it was not required, so after reading one or two chapters and getting extremely bored, I stopped.

My summer reading this summer was Lord of the Flies. If you ever have to read it, be forewarned- it is extremely disturbing. I could appreciate it as a good piece of literature, a commentary on society, with a moral and all that. I just didn't like it. I thought it was terribly creepy. In a bad way.

Overall, throughout the years, my experiences with summer reading have always been less than pleasant, and less than enlightening. Therefore, I have to conclude that, at least for me, it's rather pointless and generally unenjoyable.

Rui Xuan said...

I don't think assigning books is a good thing; but it depends on the individual. Mostly I read during the holidays, so there's no need to assign books. It shouldn't be compulsory, but just a guide to what you should read. For those who detest reading, though, assigning them books might help. It depends on the individual as a whole.
As for reading books with the structure of a class, personally, I prefer reading on my own. Reading to me is a hobby; and I would rather do without the structure of a class. That might help us understand it, but it would be too boring. On the other hand, though, it does help, you have a point there.

Trina said...

I plowed my way through Pride and Prejudice, making myself read a certain number of pages a day. it gets good in the lt few chapters. i live in new zealand, where we don't seem to believe in summer reading lists (not at my school anyway). Yay, i hear housands of kids screaming. i read way too much anyway, or so my brother tells me. but i prefer to read what i choose, which generally aren't the sort of books they set you to read in school. i prefer to read on my own than with others. also, i feel that if you analyse a book too much you start to loose some of the enjoyment that came with reading it. thats one of my biggest issues with english classes. oh, and the essays, of course

Trina said...

by the way, Briar, i love your reviews. they are very honest and thought provoking. also very mature. how old are you? 13?

Briar K. said...

I'm so glad you like the reviews, Trina. I am 14, actually. Good guess!

This year I am in high school, and the books we are reading I find much more enjoyable. We read novels and short pieces and discuss them in class, which is my favorite. I LOVED Catcher in the Rye. Everyone in my English class this year is quite smart, so class discussions are fun. We get sort of heated, sometimes, but that's the best!