The June Challenge: Books That Bullied Me At School

on Wednesday, June 2, 2010
One of the greatest joys of last month's stupidly titled challenge was revisiting Robert Cormier's young adult classic I Am The Cheese. Sixteen odd years (and about as many rereads) after having first been forced to study it in Year 9, it not only stands the test of time but actually gets better with age. Wish I could say the same for all the other crap they shoved down my throat at school. Insipid weepies, hokey dramas, parochial Australian claptrap... My skin crawls just thinking about them. But what if, and this is just a thought, what if I was wrong? Perhaps I never gave them a chance, caught up as I was in pointless teenage rebellion. I always knew better. The books I was reading at home were infinitely smarter, deeper, more enjoyable, (fill in your own hyperbolic exultation here) than their supposed 'classics'. Plus, everyone knows that there is no better way to ruin a good book than forcing a kid to overanalyse it.

Having hopefully descended from the lofty pretensions of my youth, I figure it's time to go back and read the books I studied in high school and judge them on their merits. Thus, the theme for June: Books That Bullied Me At School. Rather than review each book on its own, I will put them into vaguely thematic groups: The Tear Jerkers, The Plays, The Moral Sledgehammers and The Shrimps on the Barbie. This not only saves me from writing (and you from reading) too many stupid forced flippancies, but will also give me the chance to go back to some more general topics that have been playing on my mind of late.

Anyway, here's what they made kids read at Mt. Scopus Memorial College between the years of 1988 and 1993:

The Wife of Martin Guerre by Janet Lewis
The Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
The House of Wings by Betsy Byars (if I can find a copy!)
Julius Caeser by William Shakespeare
Macbeth by William Shakespeare
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Let The Circle Be Unbroken by Mildred Taylor
Montana 1948 by Larry Watson
The Harp In The South by Ruth Park
My Brother Jack by George Johnston

Special thanks go to Elissa for suggesting the theme for this month. Guess it's time to pull out the old school blazer and get reading...

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dude, how could you forget the lamest of them all: House of Wings!!!!!!!!!!!! Don't tell me you intend to read these again?

Anonymous said...

...btw I thought Macbeth and My Bro Jack were pretty good.

Bram the Bookworm said...

House of Wings? I don't remember that at all.

I remember hating My Brother Jack, but I loved Macbeth. I'm not saying everything they made us read was crap. I just want to revisit them with fresh eyes. And yeah, I'm doing them all again.

Anonymous said...

Are you trying to hide behind repressed memories? You still have to read it. Maybe this description will remind you:

"Left with his grandfather until his parents are settled in Detroit, Sammy learns to respect and love the old man as they care for an injured crane together."

Bram the Bookworm said...

Hmmm yeah I looked it up and it sort of rings a bell. Do you remember what year we did it? It seems to be long out of print which might pose a problem. I'll look for a copy but Betsy Byars might have to go the way of Julius Caeser and be knowingly passed over.

Bram the Bookworm said...

Ok so I caved in and added both The House of Wings and Julius Caesar. I'm really struggling to find a copy of Wings, though... I wonder if Scopus will let me raid their library hehe

Anonymous said...

I like the titular metaphor, referring both to the crane, but more importantly to the soul-soaring heights the boy ascends with his hitherto estranged grandpa. Mrs Begler knew her shit.

Bram the Bookworm said...

Yeah right. I also like that you have fused the two English teachers' names - Miss Begley and Mrs Negler. They were interchangeable to be fair...

Post a Comment