Musing Mondays – Back To School

22Nov09


What books did you read while in school? Were there any that you particular liked, or even hated? Did any become lifelong favourites?

I was one of those girls who always had my nose in a book at school. Weirdly enough, though, my school didn’t allow non-library books in the school premises, which I personally thought was unfair, but, there you have it. I’ve had a good number of books confiscated, and I had to plead to the teacher’s better sense to have them back, because I wanted to know how the novels ended. What really did annoy me, though, was an English literature teacher confiscating my copy of The Poetry Of Robert Frost. I have always loved Frost, and I used to keep that in my bag at all times, just because Frost used to be my favourite poet. I never got that back, and that was the last time I ever took a non-library book to school. Being the stubborn teenager I was, I also stopped paying attention during English lessons (which was a pity, as I genuinely loved Eng Lit), and I started arguing with the teacher unnecessarily. However, in my defence, I still can’t fathom why an English teacher would not be happy with a book of Frost poems!! At least I wasn’t reading Mills & Boons or Danielle Steels or Sweet Valleys, or god knows what else!

Enough ranting, though.

We read a lot more short stories and poems than we did proper novels. We did read Little Women, but, it was the abridged version, and we didn’t experience any of the tragedies the book had to offer. We also read a lot of Shakespeare, including A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant Of Venice, and The Tempest. I tried to get my school do a play on Macbeth, but, to no avail. A pity, as Macbeth remains my favourite work by the great Bard of Stratford.

Outside school, my reading pattern continuously changed. While in junior school, I tried getting my hands on as many Enid Blytons and Roald Dahls as possible. I did read some of the children’s classics (Tom Sawyer & Huck Finn, The Secret Garden, Uncle Tom’s Cabin etc), but not as vociferously as I would have liked to. Middle school was mostly Nancy Drews, Hardy Boys, The Three Investigators, and the like, before slowly moving on to John Grisham, Jeffrey Archer, Arthur Hailey, Robin Cook and Ken Follet.

Only at the age of fourteen did I dive into better books, like, Catcher In The Rye, The Fountainhead, An Equal Music, Lust for Life, etc. I think this was my defining year in terms of books I read, and the shape my life as a reader was going to take. Yep, I did read my share of really bad books, including a couple of Sweet Valley Highs and Nancy Drew On Campus, but neither of them were for me. A pity as I was hooked on to the Nancy Drew Casefiles.

I can’t really remember much of what I read after that, and I don’t think I actually read in my final two years of school, as I was struggling to get a good grade to get into University, while simultaneously keeping on top of all the extracurricular activities I had so enthusiastically dived into. So, yeah – that’s my school reading, in a nutshell.

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12 Responses to “Musing Mondays – Back To School”

  1. wow, I can’t remember my school, grammar or high school, being the least concerned about what I was reading. and these were private Catholic schools. I mean we had required books, but what we wanted to read beyond that was fine…

  2. I’m shocked to hear that a school would confiscate any book not from its library! Hopefully things have changed now. I don’t know what it was about English classes but I came away being seriously turned off almost any novel, poem, or play we had to study; perhaps the process of dissecting a complete work into all its tiny compartments ruined the overall effect for me. I sympathised with Tess from Tess of the D’Urbavilles: “born under a blighted star” but couldn’t really relate to anything else from the story. I hated having to study Lord of the Flies, not once but TWICE in two years. Some of Shakespeare’s plays were approached better than others, and I remember being fascinated by Sylvia Plath in The Bell Jar. Luckily, I always was and remain a bookworm, but it’s not thanks to what went on during my school years.

    • I doubt it – like I said above, it was a weird strict school, which had rules that defied logic (at times). Best school around by a mile, but, the teachers had some very weird ideas of their own, which I never understood.

      I never read Tess of the D’Ubervilles – I chose Economics over Elective English at school, and well, I missed out on the joys of Hardy. :(

      I loved Lord of the Flies, but luckily, never had to study it. Similarly, never had to study The Bell Jar. We did do one of her poems though, Snakecharmer – that was bizarre.

      Sometimes, it’s like school tries to ruin the good things in life, huh? :)

  3. I guess I was really lucky. The vast majority of my school reading experiences were positive. From being given the freedom of the headteacher’s book shelves age seven, having read everything in the classroom, to a comprehensive teacher encouraging me to read Brave New World and other dystopian stuff, and, as a fourteen year old at a convent school, being set The Mill on the Floss for a project, when every one else got short novels… Yes, I cursed initially, but I was grateful by the end of the book!

    How awful and short sighted that your school did not encourage an obvious and informed enthusiasm for reading!

    • I envy you – I really do. I’m not being a snob, but at the age of eighteen, I think I was better read than my English Lit teacher.

      Books that our teachers recommended weren’t controversial, or discussion-worthy (other than some of the classics). I was only introduced to dystopian fiction at university, and it’s one of my favourite genres – weird as that sounds. I only read Brave New World this year, come to think of it.

      My school’s library actually had more Sweet Valleys than it did anything else – almost like they were encouraging us to read that. Thank god for my parents (specially my mum) who encouraged me to read what I fancied… and strongly discouraged me from Mills & Boons…….

  4. Ahh Nancy Drew is such a classic. My mom got me the first novel a couple years ago and it was so fun to read it again and remember how suspenseful it was back in the day! Here’s my link: http://thecrowdedleaf.wordpress.com/2009/11/23/musing-monday-november-23/

    • Yeah, I remember my first Nancy Drew. I figured out who the culprit was, and I was pretty pleased with myself!

      I quite enjoy re-reading Nancy Drews myself……

  5. I totally answered this question wrong. I concentrated on books from when I was a little girl. Here is mine

  6. I don’t remember reading any Shakespeare until college.


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