Tuesday, April 19, 2011

30 Day Book Challenge: Day Two

So Many Books, So Little Time is hosting the 30 Day Book Challenge. Each day for 30 days I'll be answering one question about books.

Day Two: Your least favorite book of all time

I would say that it's Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy, but I didn't finish that one. I'd also say The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, but I SparkNoted most of it. (NOTE: I have only done this TWICE in the history of the universe.) So, instead, I'm going to say it's Bend Sinister by Vladimir Nabokov. My review of it is here but in general terms I found it boring, tedious, and mildly pretentious. I didn't really like the characters and the plot was thin. I forced myself to finish it only because it was one of my scheduled books.

I do, however, have a very funny Tess of the D'Urbervilles story. I had to read it in a group for my AP English class in high school. I don't remember if it was 11th grade or 12th grade, but there were five of us in the group and none of us were all that impressed with it. Every class we were expected to have read up to a certain point and our teacher--who is sincerely one of the greatest educators I've ever had the pleasure to meet--would walk around the room to the different groups while we were discussing our current read and engage us in a short conversation just to see how we were progressing (a.k.a. she wanted to see if we'd actually read the damn book).

One day in class my group and I were discussing a certain portion of the novel and our teacher came over and started to ask us what we thought about the part with the chandelier crashing down. I hadn't read past the first half of the book and was freaking out because I figured she would know I'd been slacking if I didn't go along with what everyone else was saying. So, I nodded along with the rest of my group members while they "oohed" and "aahed" about how powerful that scene was and about the deep symbolism it held for the novel as a whole. She seemed satisfied but she didn't say anything and once she was out of earshot I planned to ask the other members what she had been on about. Turns out that four out of five of us hadn't read it because at the same time we all said, "Was there really a chandelier in this part or was she just testing us?" The one member of our group who had read it was like, "Yeah, guys there's really a chandelier." For a moment there I thought that maybe she'd purposely thrown in some Phantom of the Opera for good measure just to see if we'd really been reading.

And that, kids, is why you do your homework.



  1. Ahahahaha. That's so funny. I was home schooled all throughout high school, so my teacher always knew if I actually read something or not. What's even better is that she never had a problem with me reading a certain book or not, because she always gave me good ones.

    I will say that once (half of my sophomore year in high school) I went to school (like the actual building :) and I hated it. Especially and kind of literature based classes because their books sucked.

    I remember your review on that book. It was by an author that wrote another book you liked, right?

  2. The sad part was that I actually picked to read Tess of the D'Urbervilles. My AP teacher rarely gave us all the same book to read. She would let us choose so that each group of students was reading a different book for their literature circles. If only I had chosen Cat's Cradle, I would have been introduced to Vonnegut at a much earlier age than I was.

    I disliked a lot of things about my high school but (other than tenth grade) not my English classes. My 9th grade English teacher and my 11th/12th grade AP teacher were both really amazing. Not all of the books that I had to read for their classes were things that I liked but a lot of them were. If it hadn't been for my AP class, I probably never would have read Dr. Zhivago which is probably one of the greatest novels ever written.

    Yeah, Bend Sinister was by Vladimir Nabokov, who wrote Lolita. Lolita was good, Bend Sinister was really, really not.

  3. That was funny. I was always good and read the selected book whether I liked it or not (which was usually not). Later on we got to choose our own which was fine. I liked most of my teachers but the only one who introduced me to anything I grew to love was the one I didn't like, funny that. She was a sci fi nut and felt that I was reading books that were too easy for me (she never notided the point horrors and not that I was reading Dickens and Stephen King too). She mentioned it to my dad during parents night who went away with a list. Thanks to that I was introduced to Isaac Asimov, Aldous Huxley and John Wyndham.

  4. I usually read the books that were assigned in school but there were a few that I just really couldn't get into. I made up for it though by reading tons of books at home. :)

    I once had a librarian in middle school tell me that I should start reading better books because to her it looked like all I was reading was Fear Street and things like that. The truth was that I wasn't about to waste what little money my mom was willing to spend on books on junky things like that so, instead, I'd have her buy me substantial books and I'd grab the ones that I would read once and then never read again from the library. Little did she know that my bookshelves at home were laden with things like The Secret Garden, Alice in Wonderland, Shakespeare, etc.

    I hate it when people assume things but it's great that you got such an amazing list from her.