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School Books

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Booking Through Thursday asks:

We all had to read things in school that we didn’t like … but what about something you read for a class that you ended up liking (or loving)? An author you discovered that you might not have found? A genre you hadn’t thought about?

I never warmed up to Romeo and Juliet, which was required reading for 9th grade. I thought the many inappropriate and cliched references people make about the main characters overkill the book for me. Somehow all my high school English teachers did not believe in Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility only showed up on the optional summer reading list. I read both and fell in love with latter. The most insistent irony of the novel is Elinor Dashwood, who supposedly represents the “sense” in the title. But her “sense” leads her astray in almost every one of her plausibly reasoned conjectures. That Marianne Dashwood has relentlessly slighted Colonel Brandon and whose love she treats with ungrateful contempt, and showers faint praise on the spiritless, insipid Edward is the reason Elinor is pluming herself on her own superiority for valuing goodness and sense more than her sister does. But she is foolish enough to let herself be guided more often by this sensibility, in the form of wishful thinking, as she should know better, or her sense should have warned her that nothing is ever so certain and dependable, let alone the business of romance, which is capricious and fickle. The Pearl was my introduction to John Steinbeck. But what ultimately intrigued me was East of Eden, a story about love and how one perceives love. Through a family romance, with betrayal and denial, Steinbeck explores how humans can spend a lifetime trying to decipher their expressions of love. But whether one is really loved sometimes cannot be known. The only love one feels is the love one feels for someone else. What I would like to conquer (eventually) is the unabridged Moby Dick.


2 Responses

  1. Very interesting comments re: Sense and Sensibility. Spot on. You have a find grasp of the novel.

    I was swept away by East of Eden when I was in high school, but was actually introduced to it by a friend; I borrowed his mom’s copy of the book. I’ve read it again more recently, and at a much later stage of life I find it full of meaning and congruent with my own experience in so many ways. We never stop learning about love, especially in its more spiritual manifestations. Lee is one of the most profound characters in American literature.

    Moby Dick is heavy going, weighted with symbolism and biblical references, but worth the effort. I’ve managed to navigate it (if that is the word) twice. It’s been some time, though. Maybe I should pick it up again.

  2. Silas Marner…zzzzzz

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