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The Chore-ification of Literature

School does very little to foster a love of reading—I'd wager the way books are taught to children is actually harmful. In the years before my English classes became semester-long sessions on interpreting a mandatorily-assigned “classic,” I was reading dozens of books per year.

Now obviously I was a child so these books were stuff like Harry Potter and whatever had the coolest cover at the Scholastic Book Fair but at least I was READING. After high school's era of “interpretation” I didn't read a single book cover-to-cover from 2011 to 2020.

Instead, books became a chore, and even through university it became more efficient for me to read Wikipedia synopses and watch cliffnotes YouTube videos to get me through the required readings for classes. I resented the books themselves because of how expensive they were, and the fact that you *had* to get the edition the professor wanted for your page citations to match up with everyone else's. I even had one professor assign a book that HE wrote, and of course he did not supply a .pdf copy :)

I'd hum and haw about spending all that money until it became clear that the book itself was absolutely 100% required for an assignment, make the minimum amount of citations possible, and never look at the book again. My shelf was full of annoying heavy paperweights I loathed.

It took Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun to make that old childhood love of reading click back in my head. All the while I'm thinking how awesome it is and how I wish they would have let me read something like this in my high school English classes instead of two years of Orwell, one of Shakespeare, and then the better part of a year dedicated to Brave New World. Fuck Brave New World, fuck Animal Farm, and most of all fuck nearly every single book that was published in the interwar period or during WWII.

Curricular rigidity of literature from maybe the least relatable period in human history (I'm 100% sure those conditions will never exist again) does not inspire a love of reading in children, it makes them resent it and avoid it like the plague.

In summation, give kids cool shit to read. Optimistic fantasy to expand their imaginations, obscure political writings to give them a look at unorthodox views, and most importantly of all don't badger them into providing interpretations of “meanings” that literally do not exist.

threads/chris/reading.txt · Last modified: 2021/02/26 07:15 by deluge