People talk about summer reading lists for high school and whatever but I have to say, I've never had one. I guess it's a list of books that you're supposed to read and then you get tested on them (presumably in your English class) at the start of the school year. It's not a bad idea in theory, I guess. Make kids read some books over the summer. Even if you're super busy with having a way cool summer, you should still have time to read a book or two.
Here's a school in Georgia (the state) where students have to read two books from a list. It's done according to grades (9th through 12th). What's weird is that 11th grade is American literature and 12th grade is British literature. 9th and 10th grade are just generic literature, which undoubtedly means American literature. But why make 12th graders read British literature in particular? It's of little to no importance to Americans and it's painfully boring. Let's see what's on the list.
The Power and the Glory
Girl with a Pearl Earring
Aliceís Adventure in Wonderland
The Crystal Cave
A Tale of Two Cities
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
The Jungle Book
Hound of the Baskervilles
The Remains of the Day
The Screwtape Letters
The Taming of the Shrew
One Hundred Years of Solitude
How to Read Literature Like a Professor
Reading Lolita in Tehran
The Great Divorce
Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Slim pickings there. I don't advocate this but I'd just go with Gulliver's Travels and re-watch some of the many film adaptations.
Failing that...man, I don't know. I'd start checking page counts. And you have to read TWO of these? Ridiculous. There's your summer wasted.
I guess Robinson Crusoe. Guy stranded on an island. Wait, when was that written? I'm not reading any olde English. 1719, yeah forget it.
On the other hand, I don't want to read something written in the past 50 years. It should be something that's stood the test of time.
No, I'm not seeing anything. I'll take the "F".
Let's see what's in the 11th grade American history list.
The Grapes of Wrath
A Peopleís History of the US***
In Cold Blood***
Other side of Eden
Conn. Yankee in King Arthurís Court
The Autobiography of an Ex Colored Man
All Over But the Shoutiní***
The Devil in White City***
One Writerís Beginnings
The House of Mirth
The Tell Tale Heart
Light in August
Run with the Horseman
A Streetcar Named Desire
This is much more like it. Books with asterisks denote non-fiction.
Grapes of Wrath. Looks promising. If it's anything like John Steinbeck's other novel Of Mice and Men, I'm sold. Depression era stuff, progressive politics, retards, how can you go wrong?
Moby Dick...I actually thought that was written by a British guy. It's probably just really old. I'll pass on that one.
Slaughterhouse 5. Yeah. Stoner classic. I'd give that one a shot.
I'll pass on Beloved but black girls need stuff to read too.
Never heard of Ceremony. Some Cherokee shit from 1977. Another one for the minorities, I guess. Although, not many Indians in Georgia and I think black people are about as interested in Cherokee literature as white people are (not very).
Sea Wolf...I don't know anything about it and Jack London isn't too inspiring. I read Call of the Wild and some other book of his that was also about wolves. Another older book, I think. Actually, only from 1900. Mark Twain was ahead of his time. Twain's stuff is still readable today but shit like Moby Dick and White Fang, whatever, it seems staid and wooden and out-dated.
I'll skip the non-fiction stuff.
The Natural...I don't know. Some baseball shit from the 1950s. You can just watch the movie, I guess. I haven't done either.
Other Side of Eden...compiled by John Steinbeck's widow or something. Lackluster reviews. I'll pass.
Connecticut Yankee in King Arthurís Court. Mark Twain won't steer you wrong. Fucking time travel too. One of the first books to explore this subject. I do enjoy the time traveling fiction.
The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man. Never heard of it but another one for the many black students in Georgia.
Never heard of One Writerís Beginnings either. Oh, yeah. As I suspected. A modern book included for lesbian students.
Cold Mountain is another modern book. No thanks.
The House of Mirth. Never heard of it but it's a book from 1900 or so written by a woman. How good can it be? A book about a woman in New York high society. This is the sort of drivel that British writers focus on. This is a hard pass. I don't even know who would want to read this. Lesbians aren't interested in this shit.
The Tell Tale Heart. On the one hand, it's another example of a book that's so old that I thought it was British. On the other hand, I think it might be a short story so worth a look. I'm probably thinking of the Raven, though.
Light in August. Never heard of it. Some redneck shit.
Run with the Horseman. Yeah, this is a modern book taking place in Georgia so another one for the hillbillies.
A Streetcar Named Desire. Yeah, that's an easy one. Everybody should be choosing this shit. It's not even a book. It's a play. "I don't want to read a play". Well then just watch the Marlon Brando film which I think is a word for word production.
So while I couldn't find ANYTHING in the British list, you're spoiled for choice in the American summer reading list. I'm going for A Streetcar Named Desire, no question. You finish that shit in 90 minutes or however long the film is. I also read the play but it's totally unnecessary. The film is the exact same thing.
And then yeah, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. You think Mark Twain is going to steer you wrong? It's probably his third most famous book. How bad can it be?
Then if extra credit is allowed, I'd go for Grapes of Wrath. Then I guess Slaughterhouse 5. Then things start becoming more like homework and less like fun. Maybe the Natural, I guess, just to finally understand that Simpsons episode that parodies it. Then maybe...I don't know...Sea Wolf, I guess. I think that's my limit. The rest of the list is too painful. But I only need two books anyway.
Here's an interesting observation: the 9th grade reading list has Through the Looking Glass but the 12th grade one has Alice in Wonderland. I thought that Through the Looking Glass was more advanced reading than Alice in Wonderland.
So anyway, yeah, of course there are exceptions. I didn't think that I had to add "this is how most, not all women behave" after every sentence.
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