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21 September 2007


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Seconded on The Grapes of Wrath, although I think I might have preferred the turtle chapters. Also this completely f*ed up book about a Native American rodeo rider that we had to read in seventh grade. I also remember really disliking The Old Man and the Sea and All the Pretty Horses, but I think I might feel differently if I read those now, whereas Steinbeck I will hate forever.


I really loved The Scarlet Letter too. Now I want to read it again - along with Rappacini's Daughter.

The only books that stick out right now as hated were The Red Badge of Courage & A Separate Peace. Red Badge was during junior year where at my high school you had to take American Lit & American Hist. I think it ends up being too much. Even though I liked learning about the Civil War, I thought it would never end.
A Separate Peace was just an annoying teacher - I can't tell you how much stupid debate there was over whether Gene actually jounced the limb. Ech. This was 15 years ago(I'll be 31 in Oct) and I cannot think of the word limb without the word jounced. But her lectures on To Kill a Mockingbird, as I recall, were pretty good.


Ever read The Chrysalids? You know, the single most boring book in the history of boring books.


The Fountainhead. I hated that book so much that, after the semester was over, I tore it up and burned it. Even today it makes me angry. If Ayn Rand were still alive, she would be my archenemy.


Loved: My Antonia!, and many, many others. I usually read the required book in the first day or two and then was bored for a couple weeks.

Loathed: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, required reading in my hateful "Theory of Knowledge" IB philosophy class senior year.

Laurel Lyon

In England they make you read Thomas Hardy. I still hate all his books.
Also, the Lord of the Flies, with no discussion or explanation. You are not going to understand this book as a kid! Just because the characters are children doesn't mean the book is accessible to children. I like it *now*.
That's all.


I've loved reading since before kindergarten, so I was always more likely than a lot of my peers to love the books we were reading.

In early years, elementary and middle school, it seemed they always made us read really sad books. Charlotte's Web, The Incredible Journey, Bridge to Terabithia, Sounder, Where The Red Fern Grows. All good books, but all so sad and deep! They should have picked a few really fun ones if they want kids to love reading.

In high school I enjoyed many of the books - Hamlet, Macbeth, Native Son, and more. But there were two I could not stand, and to this day I don't even want to give them another chance: A Tale of Two Cities and Heart of Darkness.

In college I really enjoyed a lot of the reading - The Great Gatsby (Believe it or not, didn't read until my freshman year of college, and fell in love with it, like many), The Edible Woman, The Bell Jar, Tobacco Road, Paradise Lost, Walden.

The only book from college I really didn't like was The Invisible Man, and I think it was because it was slow and discussing it in great detail made it even slower...


Loved: Great Gatsby (the only book my entire junior class loved...had to be the drinking, partying, and adultery), Scarlet Letter (although I love Hawthorne's short stories better), Beowulf, any Shakespeare. But the love of my life remains Walt Whitman!

Hated: The Old Man and the Sea, actually any Hemingway, any Charles Dickens. Beowulf hits both lists because I was forced to read it four, yes four, times in high school and college. Couldn't I study something different?!

(monkey) steve

I gave up on Grapes of Wrath in High school. (those damn turtles got to me too. I remember saying "it takes him 10 pages to say that a turtle crossed the road... I'm done with this book"). But then I read it About a year or 18 months ago and absolutely loved it.
SImilar experience with Moby Dick.

I wonder if part of it is just the school setting. You've got so many other demands on your attention that having a book that's at all difficult just gives a chance to rebel.

Kelly Fineman

Loved The Scarlet Letter too. Hated The Grapes of Wrath with a white-hot passion, exceeded only by my complete loathing for Jude the Obscure. Aptly titled.


Loved: Shakespeare, Greek plays and most everything we read in my Sci-Fi/ Fantasy class (The Demolished Man, The Left Hand of Darkness) and poetry class (Whitman, Billy Collins).

Hated: most everything we read in AP English, including The Scarlet Letter (we spent way too much time on it) and Uncle Tom's Cabin. Hated Poe only because of The Philosophy of Composition, which was the most pretentious thing I've ever read. Didn't really mind The Great Gatsby.

Thought was weird as heck: Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard.


I've always said that the ultimate proof of Shakespeare's greatness is that I sat through three different boring teachers' unsatisfactory analysis of Othello, and it's still my favorite play.
Right now my daughter (5th grade) has to read The Sign of the Beaver, stopping after every chapter to answer vocabulary questions about words she's known for years. That'd probably put me off a book.


Loved: To Kill a Mockingbird, A Separate Peace (really! Especially the "is Gene in love with Phineas?" discussions in class).

Hated: Huck Finn. I mean, honestly, why did it take an entire chapter to describe Huck digging Tom out of a cage with a spoon? (That's how I remember it at least.)


I loved The Great Gatsby and enjoyed Great Expectations

It seemed like the other English classes were reading the bad stuff, all the war and wilderness books. Made me very glad I signed up for advanced english!

Senior year of high school and Freshman year of college we had to read Crime and Punishment. Let's just say, Freshman year of college I had about a month off from reading. Was very nice!


Great Expectations! Ugh! I had to read it three times, in three different schools (we moved around a lot) and I ended up dissecting it so much it died an ugly death....


I had to read "The Pearl" in 8th grade and haven't read any Steinbeck since. I refuse to.

I loved Shakespeare and Robert Frost in college, and couldn't stand Updike.

Julie H

I liked almost every book I read in school, I think because it was interesting for me to really think about the books (that is, when I read them. I wasn't much of a reader back in my school days. Ironic, seeing as now I am a school librarian AND and author). I never loved reading Shakespeare, and I recall loathing The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. For the most part, though, my teachers kept me interested.


Although I hated Odysseus with a hot white passion, I ended up loving The Odyssey because we had such heated class discussions over it (high school). The best was A Prayer for Owen Meany, as during in-class reading I was constantly laughing aloud and people would whisper, 'what part are you at?' Apparently their senses of humor were less developed. Haha. It was all about the teachers - I could've cared less about Tess of the D'Urbervilles, but she made it interesting. Same with The Odyssey.

The worst was As I Lay Dying. Close tie with The Grapes of Wrath, although I've since read Travels for Charley and Steinbeck is redeemed in my mind. The teacher wasn't up to redeeming those two.


We slowly killed Coram Boy in English. On the other hand, Shakespeare got better through analysis, and nothing could kill To Kill a Mockingbird.


Loved: Gatsby, Ordinary People, Twain, Shakespeare, any short fiction, most poetry, Neuromancer, Continental Drift, The Color Purple, White Noise, everything from the Irish Renaissance!

Hated: Ethan Frome, Emily Dickinson, Steinbeck, anything Elizabethan other than Shakespeare, Dickens, ugh! Could also not get through Pynchon's Vineland.


I never had a teacher who could show me why Shakespeare is so great, and I haven't been able to see it for myself. I mean, I know he must be, because everyone says so, but I'd like to be able to experience it myself.

One memorable non-read I recall from high school is passing a test on "Hedda Gabbler" (doing quite well, as I recall) without ever having read it. Still haven't (high school was >30 years ago).

On the whole, I just don't get a lot of Dead White Male American authors; F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hemmingway, Steinbeck, etc. I was put off Saul Bellow when we had to read Herzog in high school, but I very recently read Augie March with much better results and now I think it was perhaps a matter of being too young & inexperienced to identify with character and author at the time. In fact I recently re-read my high school literature textbook from the year that we did world literature. The book included translated short stories, poetry, novel extracts and a few short plays from many languages & cultures (not only Western). I was surprised & somewhat ashamed to see how good the collection was and how little I had appreciated it at the time.

On the other hand, I have (since finishing school) read quite a number of the books mentioned above on my own, and enjoyed them. So glad that my experience of them wasn't tainted by poor or boring analysis in school.

V. glad in particular that I was never forced to read George Eliot, because I discovered her post-schooling and loved everything she wrote. Opinions on G. Eliot seem to be very polarized; I find those who read her are either bored to tears or claim her for one of their favourite authors ever (as I do).


I hated Beowulf in high school, but I love it now. The Red Pony, on the other hand, I hated and won't try again. It was that horrid.


Amen on the unfortunate Steinbeck experiences. In my school system, they were pretty good about not repeating novels, plays, etc. But dear lord, the short stories we had to endure repeatedly. I want to glue together the "Scarlet Ibis" pages in all my anthologies so I will never again be forced to remember the earnest voice of a teenage girl shouting "DOODLE!" Blech.

Also, ITA with the person who mentioned that teachers rarely assign funny books. Did ANYONE read a Shakespeare comedy in HS?


In my high school, there was a policy that said we couldn't take our classroom copies of the novels home, so the solution my teacher came up with was to devote part of our classtime to reading.

That's right: 7:00 a.m., with a class full of 17-year-olds all silently trudging through "The Scarlet Letter." I can understand why you like it, but let me just say that thinking about that book actually causes me physical pain.

And what was up with that big "A," anyway? Did she have an A on every dress she owned, or just one A that she transferred from dress to dress?

So many questions.


Yes, actually. The Taming of the Shrew and The Tempest.

Brian F.

I also loved SCARLET LETTER.

Whew. I'm glad Bec joins me in hating HUCK FINN. I actually destroyed my copy of the book once that unit was done in school. In all fairness, though, I probably hated the misanthropic, evil teacher who taught the book more than the actual book. I may have to give it another go.


I hated W.O. Mitchell's Who Has Seen the Wind. Our teacher always stressed to us, "The wind represents God! What is God doing in this chapter?" It was terrible.


This is actually a subject I become filled with passionate rage over. The fact that almost none of the books anybody has mentioned were actually intended for a teen audience drives me crazy. Why not throw a little YA in there?!

Anyways, books that stilll make my heart palpitate with rage: The Old Man and the Sea; Billy Bud, Sailor; and, though I can't remember its title, this short story about a man and a woman living in shack somewhere in the Canadian prairies, and how she was cheating on him, and there was a blizzard and a red scarf. It was from a collection of horrendous Canadian short stories we were forced to read in junior high. Ugh.


I feel like the only Steinbeck lover here! Well, I only read Of Mice and Men in high school (which I loved). I read Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden only a few months ago.

Loved: Of Mice and Men, To Kill a Mockingbird, Huck Finn, Hamlet, The Great Gatsby, The Crucible, Cry the Beloved Country

Hated: Ethan Frome, Heart of Darkness (big time), Things Fall Apart

Everything else I could either take or leave.

I was an English major in college and read an awful lot of things I loved and an awful lot of things I absolutely hated.


Liked: Any Jane Austen, Brave New World, Red Badge of Courage...LOVED the readings for my young adult lit, childrens' lit, and experimental literature classes in college

Hated: A Day No Pigs Would Die and Lord of the Flies (middle school), The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Waiting for Godot, and Mice and Men(high school), White Noise and The Awakening (college)


I loved most everything-- Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen, Wharton, etc.-- except Grapes of Wrath (glad to see I'm in good company!), which I felt Bashed Me Over The Head With Symbolism, Their Eyes Were Watching God (just didn't click), and, above all, Madame Bovary. Not because it was a bad book, but because I wanted with a practically physical itch to slap that stupid, annoying woman upside the head.

V. Vxn

This is a great question! I HATED Red Badge of Courage and The Sun Also Rises. (I've since reread The Sun Also Rises and enjoyed it much more - I think it was a maturity/understanding issue). I also got next to nothing out of the Great Gatsby at the time (I think I might have skipped some chapters or otherwise neglected it due to theatrical commitments). Again, this has since been redeemed. I enjoyed the Shakespeare we read, and we did indeed read a comedy (As You Like It) of course, we also read Othello, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet and Julius Ceaser. The best and most memorable reading was Brave New World and 1984 back to back.

a Paperback Writer

I remember being a little confused by the Scarlet Letter and the Great Gatsby, but I rather liked them both.
I despised Red Badge of Courage and Great Expectations (I still think they're rather dull), but I loved a Tale of Two Cities and Romeo and Juliet and Antigone that same year.
I thought Catcher in the Rye was stupid, boring, and pointless -- and I still do.
That was just 9th grade. I liked most of what my teachers assigned over the next three years: loved Beowulf and Macbeth, even liked Thomas Hardy.
But I did hate Grapes of Wrath and Sozhenizhen's Cancer Ward (the latter assigned over Christmas break -- talk about depressing). I loved Herman Hesse and ALL the poetry, although I found Plath a bit depressing when I was 17.


I had mentioned above never reading Hedda Gabbler. Mandy's post reminded me that it wasn't the only one I faked: I also never read Heart of Darkness when we studied it. And still haven't.


Loved: The Great Gatsby, Pride and Prejudice, No Promises in the Wind (Depression book by Irene Hunt-- yes! A YA novel assigned in junior high school! O rare ray of common sense among the teachers!), A Room of One's Own, essays and poems by Emerson. And some others I don't remember. And a bunch of short stories by women that I read for an independent study my senior year of H.S., including my first exposure to Grace Paley.

Hated: Walt Whitman's poems (I thought he was a pompous windbag; I like them better now that I'm older and less obnoxious), Nectar in a Sieve, and, in college, The House of Mirth. (Lily Bart made me want to throw the book against the wall; I wished she would either either suck it up and marry some jerk for the financial and social security or shut up about it already and stop waffling.)

Freaked out by: Lord of the Flies. It was just a liiiittle too close to adolescent reality.

Also, some books I kind of liked because they were interesting to study and discuss (Ethan Frome, for one--I know it's notoriously read and hated in HS but I thought his dilemma was interesting), though I never would have read them on my own and didn't really like them as novels exactly.

i hate emo kids

i feel so validated reading that others hate steinbeck as well. i still maintain that if he wasn't already dead i'd kick him in the junk for writing a book that caused me so much misery in high school...

even though i like it now, i HATED plato's republic. a bright idea it was to have a bunch of fourteen year olds read it as freshman. class discussion consisted of how much we hated it and our teacher for making us read it. fun.

and i thought holden c. was a choad when i had to read catcher. still think he's a choad. still being told i "don't understand him." no, people, that's not it. i do understand him. i can empathize with someone and still want to kick them. it's allowed.


I loved To Kill a Mockingbird, The Count of Monte Cristo, and Animal Farm.

Everything else? Horrid. Julius Caesar, A Separate Peace, Great Gatsby, Far from the Madding Crowd (that was the WORST), Great Expectations, the list goes on.


I hated A Separate Peace in high school, too. Re-read it a few years ago and kind of loved it. (And Gene totally jounced the limb, that bastard.)


Loved: To Kill a Mockingbird, A Separate Peace, Catcher in the Rye, The Prince of Tides

Hated: (I know I'll get booed for this)The Great Gatsby, the King Arthur books, Macbeth, and Huck Finn.


I also hated The House Behind the Cedars. The ending was such a cop-out, and the author hits you over the head with the moral.

And Of Mice and Men? Spare me.

Arthur Slade

Ah, Fahrenheit 451 was an absolute favourite.

Must say Grapes of Wrath was a bit of a struggle. That's why I skipped every second chapter.



I feel as if perhaps I am the only person who loved Grapes of Wrath. Granted, I didn't read it in a lit class--we performed the Frank Galati stage adaptation of it my sophomore year in high school, and the cast was all encouraged to read the full text in order to get a better sense of character, background, etc. Most people...didn't follow through with this, but I did, and found it wonderful. That said, I can completely understand why going over it page by page in an English class and taking apart every piece of symbolism would drive all of y'all crazy. I think it's a book meant to be read at whatever pace you choose and absorbed slowly rather than dissected.


I tended not to read anything I was supposed to read in class but still did well anyway. I liked most of the books I read except Pride and Prejudice. However, I'm reading that book right now and am loving it.


I hated A Separate Peace when I had to read it in 8th grade. Then I had to teach it as a substitute teacher. (Not my choice, I had to follow the lesson plans.) I tried to find a way to make it relevant or interesting in some way but all my students thought it was stupid. And I still hated it!

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