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Terrible Books You Had To Read In School


Voxcorvegis has kicked off an interesting meme, which Clarissa has also answered, so I thought I might post my answer here, as well as in Voxcorvegis’ comments thread!

I’ve been forced to take a slightly broader approach to answering the question, as I think I had a really good experience with reading throughout secondary school. We read Shakespeare (The Merchant of Venice and Romeo and Juliet), great modern books (such as Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, about which Rachel recently posted), and wonderful poetry like Tennyson’s Ulysses, which I firmly believe was a major influence in my academic interests at under- and post-graduate level. I even enjoyed the more trite and stereotypical reading we had to do, such as Carrie’s War and Goodnight, Mister Tom. I have a dim recollection of being forced to read some war poetry, which I hate as a general rule, but I’ve evidently blocked out exactly what we had to read.

I would therefore nominate a book that I was forced to read at university: Hobbes’ Leviathan. I read this  as part of a class on ethical reasoning, which included Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, Plato, etc. I find the ideas of the book interesting enough, but the actual reading experience is simply dire! I find most readings from the Age of Reason and the Age of Enlightenment surprisingly dull in contrast with Renaissance and Romantic writing, but I’ve been fortunate enough to avoid a lot of it. I could barely get through most of Leviathan, however, and needless to say that class was not one of my favourites!



  1. voxcorvegis says:

    If I am to expand from fiction, I would like to add the Life of Theresa of Avila by Herself to the list. I would not be able to tell you why I found this book so much more boring than any of the many other bits of Saintly moralizing that I had to read for mediaeval history; maybe it was just the fact that, by this point, I'd just read a thousand years worth of it starting with Augustine's Confessions and working my way up, at this book didn't offer anything new. In any case, it is to my memory the only book that I have ever been assigned which I did not read all the way until the end.

  2. La Graciada says:

    Oh, cripes, you have reminded me of having to read Julian of Norwich! That was awful for many similar reasons.

    I'm struggling a lot to think of any fiction that I've been required to read that was truly awful, though. I suspect this is because, at university, I always had the option of not reading! I found The Brothers Karamazov rather tedious, but I have been intending to re-read it for some time, as I think that might have just been my taking issue with the class as a whole….

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