I remember being told to always read with a pencil during my high school and college years. Or pen. Or highlighter. And that doing so would enable me to locate and better remember important details of the story. Ask me how many times I actually did this. Go ahead.
“How many times did you read with a pen or pencil, John?”
Not once. Why? Because I’d either retain the information or I wouldn’t. If I had to go back and revisit the text, then I likely was ill-prepared for any kind of test or exam and that falls on me.
And now I know people STILL do this even once they’re long passed the years of analyzing literature. But I don’t get it. What is being accomplished by underlining that quote? Or writing in the margins? Is it really so hard to read at a pace at which you can retain what you’e reading. I read about a page a minute in most books, right? Could I read faster? Sure. But I don’t see the point of just trying to read as fast as possible. At the other end of the spectrum, I also don’t see the point of trying to analyze every single word of a given text. If you think the author has hidden some underlying theme deep within the words of the book, fine. But that doesn’t mean that you should read the rest of the book searching and searching for evidence that your suspicion is correct. Just read the damn book.
If you’re not trying to analyze the text, then what are you doing underlining and highlighting and noting? Serious question. Cause I’ll randomly come across sentences that have been underlined in the Kindle versions of books and have no earthly idea why someone would want to save them for later.
Do you mark in your books?
On this day in 2014 I published Why is it Still Acceptable to Strip Books?.
I’m talking about assigned school reading here. Schools down here in Texas mostly assign classics in the classroom, which isn’t bad, but I’d like to see some more variety. I’ve heard of teachers assigning The Hunger Games for class. Like…where the heck was that teacher when I was in school?! I know John Green’s books are assigned. And several others. But my experience in the classroom was with books that were written decades before I was born, and sometimes centuries before.
Let me just make a random list of books I remember reading in school. This isn’t necessarily going to be in any order or by genre or anything. Romeo and Juliet. Does that even count? The Odyssey. Dracula. Jurassic Park. 12 Angry Men. Was that originally a book? The Great Gatsby. Beowulf. I’m just naming whatever I can think of. I’m sleepy. I Have Lived a Thousand Years. Of Mice and Men. That’s all I can come up with. I just sat here rolling my head on my desk in an effort to stay awake. I don’t think that list really fits with my previous assertion that I read a lot of classics in school. Oh well.
I know there are a million more books I was assigned during my time in school, but I only listed out those books for your benefit. I know which book was the best. Dracula. I’ve written about that book several times on here, because it’s quite honestly the only assigned reading book that’s stuck with me. I don’t hardly remember any part of any other book I was forced to read in school. But I remember the Count. I remember Mina. And Lucy. And Harker. Van Helsing. The gypsies. Shapeshifting. The pure evil of it all. And no, I didn’t take a look at the Wikipedia page for the book. I don’t have to. I even know the year it was published by memory. 1897.
I know I liked The Great Gatsby, but I couldn’t tell you hardly anything about the story itself. Oh! We read The Giver in 8th grade. No idea what it was about. I know Jurassic Park pretty well, but that’s a good book while Dracula is iconic. The others…eh.
Now you know the best book I was forced to read in school, what’s yours?