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Let's talk literature: hits and misses with your teens this year


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My son is wrapping up 11th grade and was assigned works form the Late Renaissance/Early Modern period, for the most part selections from the WTM list.

 

Hits: Don Quixote (Grossman edition)--his comments were that although parts were boring, the humor made it a worthwhile experience.

 

Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin--a Founding Father went from a two dimensional name to a three dimensional, highly likeable figure.

 

Moby Dick--my son sings it praises. His mother has never read it. Hmmm...yet another book on my summer reading list.

 

The big Miss: A Scarlet Letter. In my son's eyes, this book could be reduced to a one page plot summary with no loss to the reader. Our family discussion and the Weinstein Teaching Company lectures did nothing to convince him that there was value to the work.

 

The surprise: She Stoops to Conquer. I loved this play in high school and assumed that he would as well. It was a shoulder shrug for him; on the other hand, Tartuffe was a hit.

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Guest Katia

The surprise: She Stoops to Conquer. I loved this play in high school and assumed that he would as well. It was a shoulder shrug for him; on the other hand, Tartuffe was a hit.

 

My 11th grade dd read She Stoops to Conquer this year and LOVED it! She said the Hardcastle characters were exactly like Mr. and Mrs. Hardcastle in the British TV comedy As Time Goes By and the rest of the characters aligned to Judy, Alastair, Sandy, etc. and as she read, she gave the characters the voices of the people in the TV show. It was a hoot!

 

We were actually wondering if As Time Goes By might not have been inspired by this short story.

 

Her other favorites were Arms and The Man , Othello, Romeo & Juliet, West Side Story, Selected Essays of Jonathan Swift , Julius Caesar,and Hamlet.

 

Just ok, not terrific but not horrible were: Tale of Two Cities, Sir Gwain and the Green Knight, and Comedy of Errors,

 

Horrible and did not like at all: Utopia. It was great for discussion though. ;)

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My lit/writing class studied the following works this year. DD was in the class. I'll give general comments about how most of the students felt.

 

Antigone-This was a hit. No complaints from guys or gals. Very understandable and compelling compared to other ancient lit I've read. I was glad I picked this play to start the year. I had considered Oedipus and due to suggestions on this board, changed to Antigone, which I didn't know about. It was a valuable suggestion!

 

Aeneid-None of the students really loved this one. Virgil does come up in the Inferno, so that was a neat tie-in to the next piece of lit. However, I'm not sure I'd program it again.

 

Inferno-None of the students loved this one either. I had one student who violently hated it. I doubt I'd program it again-maybe just do excerpts.

 

Faerie Queene Book 1-Hated it! This was very unpopular because it practically needed translation. We will read another book next year. It is like taking vitamins. It is good for you. Sorry kids!

 

Richard III-My first reaction is that I don't care if the students didn't love this one because I did.:D About 1/2 the students preferred Richard and 1/2 preferred Hamlet. Hindsight-it was unwise to program Richard and Hamlet in the same year as they are 2 of Shakespeare's longest plays.:D Live and learn.

 

Hamlet-Too whiny, my dd says. Again-the reaction was mixed with Hamlet.

 

Gulliver's Travels-Oh dear! Why did we read all of this one? I had a trusted friend pre-read this one. I asked her if there was any inappropriate stuff? She said, no-just weird stuff. So you think its ok? Oh yes, she says. Let's just say it became pretty apparent that Swift loved potty stuff. None of the kids liked this one. Too long. They got the point with Lilliput and really didn't need the rest of the book. Live and learn.

 

"A Modest Proposal"-Great! All of the students were either shocked, amused or entertained. Don't miss this one!

 

Frankenstein-Umm. The students who went into this one expecting to be scared were disappointed. The students who read it with no expectations seemed to like it better. We talked a lot about Mary Shelley and that was quite interesting. If you are going to spend some time talking about an author and how her life may have affected her work, consider Mary Shelley and Frankenstein.

 

"The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"-Fits well with Frankenstein! The kids found the poem quite interesting and even entertaining. This was well-received.

 

The Black Tulip-I'd say 75% of the kids liked this! That was a pleasant surprise. Considering Dumas' other works are uber-long, The Black Tulip is a very good alternative. This book is an excellent book to read and discuss history. Tulip mania is a really interesting chapter in Dutch history!

 

Animal Farm-Only 1 or 2 kids didn't like this one. I highly recommend it! Good reactions from almost all my kids.

 

Alas Babylon-Probably the most well-received of all the books we read. None of the students said they didn't like this one.

 

Childhood's End-Most students listed this one as their 2nd or 3rd favorite of the year. Fun book to end with, although slightly darkish in tone.

 

It was a great year!

Edited by HollyinNNV
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They read works ranging from historical fiction to Christian fiction to modern fiction to modern drama to a non-fiction "bio-thriller".

 

The group read:

 

  • The Shack by William P. Young
  • The Light in the Forest by Conrad Richter
  • The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose
  • The Hot Zone by Robert Preston

 

 

EK (8th grade) joined the group just as they were finishing The Shack, so she didn't get to read that. Nor did she read The Hot Zone because during that time, we were busy reading the fantasy novel Inkheart by Cornelia Funke at home.

 

Of the rest of the books on the list, EK's favorite was, by far, The Atonement Child. She plans to read more works by Francine Rivers. In fact, I just checked out The Last Sin Eater for her when I was at the library yesterday.

 

The only book on the list that EK really didn't like was The Light in the Forest. She commented that it was "boring".

 

As for Inkheart, EK enjoyed it. We are looking forward to seeing the movie when it is released on DVD next month, and we plan to read the sequels (Inkspell and Inkdeath) also.

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We have 3 lists for this year: the "Great Books" lit. elective done all together; and then each DS did different lit. towards the English credit. Cheers, Lori D.

 

 

 

Great Books lit. elective:

 

1. Beowulf (Heaney translation) = Great Books guide

The boys begged to do this one as a result of having done LLftLotR last year. LOVED it! Definitely read it aloud for the wonderful alliterative and rhythmic qualities. The Great Books guide was an enjoyable "worldview guided discussion" -- a nice change from other lit. guides.

 

 

2. Macbeth (Shakespeare) = Parallel Shakespeare text, workbook, and guide set; Brightest Heaven of Invention

Excellent follow up to Beowulf, with a similar sort of very-early-British-culture-still-very-Nordic feel. *Really* enjoyed this play -- a great intro into the Bard for teen boys!

 

To hold our hand for our first outing with Shakespeare, we used the Parallel Shakespeare, a side-by-side of the original on one page and a modern translation on the facing page. We started by reading the original and then the translation, but soon found we were able to follow Shakespeare quite well, and only ended up using the translation for occasional vocabulary or cryptic lines. We used parts of both the student workbook and teacher guide: good discussion questions, information, and writing assignment ideas.

 

We also the Macbeth analysis in Brightest Heaven of Invention -- a little bit went over the DSs heads, but some great info in there. Macbeth was so enjoyable, that when we later saw a production of Midsummer Night's Dream, both boys really enjoyed it! We're all looking forward to our next Shakespeare...

 

3. Gift of the Magi (Henry)

4. The Most Dangerous Game (Connell)

Short stories, using Windows on the World from IEW. Both boys really enjoyed the stories, and really loathed the annotating -- it drove them nuts. On the other hand, we did enjoy discussing what we'd found and how it supported the themes in each story -- a lot of foreshadowing, symbolism, irony, and other literary elements.

 

5. All Quiet on the Western Front (Remarque) = Sparknotes guide

Very intense and heavy. When we got through the chapters on the bombardments, the boys were stunned into silence. The reality of experiencing mechanized, inhumane war really got to them. One asked me "Why are we reading this?" I said, "Because there are terrible and ugly things in this world that you will see and experience, and literature like this gives your dad and I the opportunity to walk alongside you through them." It put all the shooter video games into perspective briefly.

 

6. Diary of Anne Frank (Frank) = Portals to Literature guide

Honestly, I think the boys could have skipped this one; they weren't too interested in it. I think they really preferred The Hiding Place which we did a few years back. The Portals to Lit. guide was fine -- a lot of reproducibles and classroom type questions/exercises that we tended to skip, though.

 

7. To Kill a Mockingbird (Lee) = Garlic Press pub. guide

Everyone is really enjoying this book; laughing out loud at times. The guide is great, with good discussion questions, writing assignment ideas, and lots of literary elements discussed.

 

 

 

9th grader's lit. for English = Lightning Literature 8

Overall, LL8 was light as far as literary analysis for him -- but it's because we've been doing quite a bit more heavy lit. analysis elsewhere for 2 years. It was worth doing for the great books, and it was good for DS to do the worksheets.

 

- 3 poetry units = unless it's rhymed and tells a story, DS does not like poetry

- 3 short stories = "A Crazy Tale", "Wakefield" "Reflections"

DS neither loved nor loathed these; he did laugh at the twist at the end of "Reflections"

- Treasure Island, The Hobbit, My Family and Other Animals

DS read these mostly on his own, and especially enjoyed the last 2

- A Day of Pleasure, A Christmas Carol

We did these together; glad we did. I don't think DS would have appreciated the amazing culture in the first book, or would have "gotten" some of the Victorian language of the second. He seemed to enjoy both.

 

 

 

10th grader's lit. for English = "Worldviews in Sci-Fi Lit."

We made our own lit., using guides. This turned out to be far more awesome than I expected. DS really enjoyed almost all of the works.

 

1. Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (Stevenson) = Progeny Press guide

Christian worldview -- evil is inherent within man and man can do nothing on his own to remove that evil from himself.

Good, but the language/vocabulary was a a bit tough going for DS. Glad we did it together. While we didn't use every bit of the Progeny Press guide, it was helpful. I just WISH the guide's layout was better -- oog, trying to find the answer is a nightmare, the way all the type is all run together and goes from margin to margin!

 

2. Frankenstein (Shelley) = Progeny Press guide

Romantic worldview -- the strength of one's passions dictate the validity of one's decisions -- and the beginnings of a scientific worldview (if we can do it, we should go ahead and do it).

 

Halfway through, DS was tired of the overly-long, romantic, rhapsodic descriptions of the landscapes, even though he understood that it symbolized the internal state of the characters' minds. He was irked at Frankenstein's victim mentality, frustrated that the monster chose to emulate that mentality, and then really annoyed that the character to whom Frankenstein tells his story, chooses at the very end of the novel to hold the very same mindset!

 

Interestingly, while Frankenstein is an early attempt at the scientific worldview, ultimately the author seems to work against that, as the scientist "creator" even describes himself as not perfect, and that moral failing is definitely passed onto the monster "creation". DS had also read Jeff Baldwin's The Deadliest Monster, which helped him compare the worldviews of the 2 books.

 

3. Time Machine (Wells) = found an obscure online guide

Worldviews of socialism and science/evolution

Quick read. DS found it paradoxical/amusing that Wells "shoots himself in the foot" at the end of the novel by really believing in socialism and evolution as the answer to man being able to evolve and also to use science to create a bright future -- and the ultimate future he portrays is very bleak -- first, the "de-evolved" eloi and morlocks, and then even farther into the future, a nasty, slimy red crab-like predator on the shore of a dying earth. That's it -- mankind's future. Blech!

 

4. Animal Farm (Orwell) = Sparknotes guide

Worldview of communism.

Quick read. Very fun, very biting. One of DS's favorites from the list.

 

5. The Giver (Lowry) = Garlic Press guide; Sparknotes guide]

Worldview of utopia / dystopia

Quick read. Easy, gentle intro into a utopia / dystopia. The Sparknotes guide discussed the theme of remembrance -- and how the lack of knowledge of your culture's past history allows you to be manipulated -- that theme showed up again and again in the next 3 books!

 

6. Brave New World (Huxley) = Sparknotes guide

Worldview of utopia / dystopia

Definitely glad we did The Giver first to ease us into this one. And, while this one is not for everyone, the author so clearly makes sex NOT lustful/arousing -- the point is to show how dehumanized everyone is. DS found LOTS of parallels with \ present-day culture. As a family, we had recently watched the worldview series, The Truth Project, and found ourselves referring to that a lot in our discussions about this novel.

 

We found a lot of themes not covered in Sparknotes. The novel prompted a lot of discussion, and wasn't as hard or ugly as I expected.

 

7. Farenheit 451 (Bradbury) = Progeny Press guide; Sparknotes guide

Themes of literacy, thinking, word vs. image.

Unexpected favorite of DS. He said, "It's such a pleasure to read such a well-written piece of literature!" -- he liked Bradbury's poetic style. This book sparked a lot of discussion, too -- comparisons to our culture today, but also to the 2 previous books. Both guides were helpful.

 

8. A Canticle for Leibowitz (Miller) = wikipedia article

Post apocalyptic work; theme of the state and it's cycle of rise of power/self destruction, while the Church remains as the steadying, preserving force throughout history

Another unexpected hit for DS. The language, many allusions, and sentence structure definitely make this one to do together. A lot of discussion and comparison with Farenheit 451 and the importance of preserving literature/writings. Both books are also structured into 3 parts.

 

I do wish there was a guide for this one; I'm considering writing one myself, because it is such a RICH work.

 

9. Cosmi Comics (Calvino) = wikipedia article

Existentialism and evolutionary worldviews.

Didn't have time to get to this. We'll enjoy it over the summer informally.

 

10. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy = no guide

Absurdism worldview

Enjoyed this this one and the sequel, Restaurant at the End of the Universe, out loud just as a family read aloud. A much-needed lighter, fun work after all the darker, more depressing worldviews! The boys enjoyed the "pokes" at traditional sci-fi.

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I used Literary Lessons from Lord of the Rings this year with my 9th grader.

 

Lord of the Rings was "meh" for my ds. He had read it before and of course we've watched the movies several times. The most interesting discussions arose from his view that Sam is the most heroic figure in the books and that The Hobbit is a much better book. As he reads lots of fantasy in general we also had many discussions about Tolkein's influence on the genre, and what makes a heroic tale work. Brisinger came out last fall, for instance, and one of his first essays of the year was comparing it to LotR.

 

Beowulf really brought LotR to life. We read and listened to the Heaney translation, though in a lesson I found on-line my ds decided he preferred another translation. We never found a complete version of that translation, and overall my ds found Beowulf interesting but not great.

 

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was a hit and also brought more of LotR to life. We read the Armitage version and watched a Teaching Company lecture on it. Ds found some of the colloquialisms in the Armitage version to be disconcerting, but still enjoyed it.

 

The Sword in the Stone is a hit. I've read JK Rowling has cited Once and Future King as one of her biggest influences, and it is very apparent. We're going to finish the rest of it over the summer.

 

The Right Stuff is a hit though it looks jarring at the end of this list as it certainly has nothing to do with epic fantasy or medieval literature! I was looking for something to bring the Cold War to life, and this really has fit the bill. Tom Wolfe's writing has also been a nice change to the usual school reading.

 

He has read so much more this year, but the above were the assigned works that sprang to mind this morning -- probably because they are the most recent! I appreciate reading about everyone else's hits and misses and am making notes for future plans.

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I'll play. ;)

British Lit hits for DD (a senior this past year - just graduated, yeah!) were:

 

Hamlet

Frankenstein

Pride and Prejudice

Sense and Sensibility

Christmas Carol

Screwtape Letters

Brave New World

 

Misses were:

 

Lord of the Flies (neither one of us could bring ourselves to read this as our last book; we both tried and decided it was too depressing for words . . . so we substituted Sense & Sensibility instead even though we certainly didn't "need" another Austen ;))

 

We did one other one . . . Wuthering Heights . . . and I'll actually have to ask DD if she considers it a hit or a miss. I'm not even sure if *I* consider it a hit or a miss! But it led to some great discussions.

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We're completing Omnibus III here.

 

Hits for my eldest were:

Pilgrim's Progress -- Bunyan

Frankenstein -- Shelley

Pride and Prejudice -- Austen

Gulliver's Travels -- Swift

A Tale of Two Cities -- Dickens

Uncle Tom's Cabin -- Stowe

The Killer Angels -- Shaara

The Great Gatsby -- Fitzgerald

The Old Man and the Sea -- Hemingway

Animal Farm -- Orwell

Christianity and Liberalism -- Machen

 

misses:

The Social Contract -- Rosseau

The Pit and the Pendulum -- Poe

Autobiography of Charles G. Finney -- Finney

Death of a Salesman -- Miller

Mein Kampf -- Hitler

 

In all she really liked her reading this year.

 

Younger dd is sick with the flu and claims not to have liked any of them....she still claims that the only book in all the Omnibus books that she *really* liked was Till We Have Faces -- Lewis. This was one I almost omitted for from her list. Go figure.

 

~Moira

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Tale of Two Cities- My son loved this. We were surpised by the humor in it.

 

Uncle Tom's Cabin We liked the book. Sometime's Stowe's writing seemd a bit preachy and long winded.

 

Dante's Purgartario(sp?) and Paradisio These were read at my son's request. We read Inferno and we wanted to finish the series. Not as interesting as Inferno( I guess we like reading about torments best!) Some parts dragged on, but overall a good read.

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We did Omnibus II this year:

 

1st dd favorites: Chaucer, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, The Inferno

least favorite: Bede, Geoffrey of Monmouth, Eusebius, Athanasius(On the Incarnation)

 

2nd dd favorites: The Song of Roland, Beowulf, MacBeth, Eusebius

least favorite: The Bondage of the Will, Athanasius, Augustine's Confessions

 

They both really enjoyed "The Perilous Gard" as a fun add-on.

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We're completing Omnibus III here.

 

Hits for my eldest were:

Pilgrim's Progress -- Bunyan

Frankenstein -- Shelley

Pride and Prejudice -- Austen

Gulliver's Travels -- Swift

A Tale of Two Cities -- Dickens

Uncle Tom's Cabin -- Stowe

The Killer Angels -- Shaara

The Great Gatsby -- Fitzgerald

The Old Man and the Sea -- Hemingway

Animal Farm -- Orwell

Christianity and Liberalism -- Machen

 

misses:

The Social Contract -- Rosseau

The Pit and the Pendulum -- Poe

Autobiography of Charles G. Finney -- Finney

Death of a Salesman -- Miller

Mein Kampf -- Hitler

 

In all she really liked her reading this year.

 

Younger dd is sick with the flu and claims not to have liked any of them....she still claims that the only book in all the Omnibus books that she *really* liked was Till We Have Faces -- Lewis. This was one I almost omitted for from her list. Go figure.

 

~Moira

 

I think your eldest has excellent literary taste. :tongue_smilie::D

I enjoyed Till We Have Faces, too.

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My 10th and 11th grader read most of the same books this year, with a few exceptions.

 

 

  • Montaigne's Essays: Neither of them enjoyed these. I ended up reading them aloud and discussing them with the boys. We also read fewer than I had originally planned.
  • Emerson's Essays: These were better, but they didn't really care for them either.
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin: Both boys loved this book, and got a much clearer picture of slavery from it. Its impact was strengthened by the fact that they were reading the autobiography of Frederick Douglass at the same time (for history). They had lots of arguments about what they would have done/would do if they found themselves enslaved. It really brought out the issue of freedom, and what it is worth.
  • Frederick Douglass Essays: They liked these okay. They preferred his autobiography, which they read for history.
  • Great Expectations: Neither boy liked this book, and my oldest hated it. (For some reason, neither of them cares for anything by Dickens, though my oldest thinks A Tale of Two Cities, which he read in 9th grade, was worthwhile.)
  • G.K. Chesterton Essays: They both enjoyed these, though I think my 10th grader missed most of the point.
  • Hamlet: They had trouble getting into this at first, but then they really enjoyed it. The themes in this keep coming up in discussion.
  • Silas Marner: Both boys disliked this book, and thought it was extremely boring. I also had trouble getting into it. We ended up not finishing it, since it was at the end of the year and we had lots of other books to read.

They also read various other books, but these were the main books we used.

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Frankenstein-Umm. The students who went into this one expecting to be scared were disappointed. The students who read it with no expectations seemed to like it better. We talked a lot about Mary Shelley and that was quite interesting. If you are going to spend some time talking about an author and how her life may have affected her work, consider Mary Shelley and Frankenstein.

 

 

 

 

 

2. Frankenstein (Shelley) = Progeny Press guide

Romantic worldview -- the strength of one's passions dictate the validity of one's decisions -- and the beginnings of a scientific worldview (if we can do it, we should go ahead and do it).

 

Halfway through, DS was tired of the overly-long, romantic, rhapsodic descriptions of the landscapes, even though he understood that it symbolized the internal state of the characters' minds. He was irked at Frankenstein's victim mentality, frustrated that the monster chose to emulate that mentality, and then really annoyed that the character to whom Frankenstein tells his story, chooses at the very end of the novel to hold the very same mindset!

 

Interestingly, while Frankenstein is an early attempt at the scientific worldview, ultimately the author seems to work against that, as the scientist "creator" even describes himself as not perfect, and that moral failing is definitely passed onto the monster "creation". DS had also read Jeff Baldwin's The Deadliest Monster, which helped him compare the worldviews of the 2 books.

 

 

While Frankenstein led to some interesting family discussions this year on science, technology and ethics, the book was not a bit hit for my son--nor a miss which is why I did not mention it earlier. My son also grew tired of the "overly-long, romantic, rhapsodic descriptions of the landscapes" as Lori phrased it. As he read, the characters in the book began irritating him to the point that he was relieved when it was over. (Why are some books just like this for us?)

 

One more addition to the hit parade: William Blake. Who would have thought?

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I did the Ancients this year with my 15 year old daughter. Since she worked through Windows to the World (and had a heavy load at the cooperative),

I cut her literature list down a bit.

 

Hits:

*Genesis and Daniel.

*Antigone and Jean Anouilh's version of Antigone. Interesting discussions about worldview and the concept of a tragic hero.

*The Trial and Death of Socrates. She HATED this while she was reading it, but has referred to it often in conversation - in a positive way.

*The Odyssey

 

Misses:

*Oedipus Rex ("yuck!")

*Gilgamesh ("double-yuck!")

 

She is still reading Julius Caesar (Shakespeare) and has yet to start Till We Have Faces (Lewis)

 

She (and her middle school sister) also had some fun reading that didn't have to be analyzed to death:

 

Mara, Daughter of the Nile (two-thumbs up)

Shadow Hawk (two-thumbs down)

The Ides of April (two-thumbs down)

The Eagle of the Ninth and The Lantern Bearers (one-thumb up and one thumb down for this series - the latter vote coming from my dd aged 13. I really liked these myself!)

 

Yet to read: The White Isle (another one for the summer reading list)

 

Denise in NE

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My 9th grade dd took the Scholars Online Western Literature to Dante class, and to my surprise she did not enjoy hardly any of the books they read (they read about a million) until she got to The Divine Comedy, which she really liked.

On the side she read 5 Shakespeare plays & really enjoyed those, plans to read a few more next month.

I think The Scarlett Letter should be buried in the middle of the deepest sea, just my humble opinion based on my memories of high school English.

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My dd did 20th century lit this year. The hits were:

 

The Metamorphosis - she cried at the end of this one

Brave New World - sparked great discussion

Cry, My Beloved Country

The Hiding Place

The Great Gatsby

 

Misses:

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Grapes of Wrath - I let her read half and then give up. I love Steinbeck, but so far 2 of his novels have not been her cup of tea.

 

We still have Alas, Babylon to read, and I really like this book, but we may make it a read-aloud for summer. Others she liked, but just not as much as the ones above.

 

Veronica

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Hits:

*Genesis and Daniel.

*Antigone and Jean Anouilh's version of Antigone. Interesting discussions about worldview and the concept of a tragic hero.

*The Trial and Death of Socrates. She HATED this while she was reading it, but has referred to it often in conversation - in a positive way.

*The Odyssey

 

Misses:

*Oedipus Rex ("yuck!")

*Gilgamesh ("double-yuck!")

 

She is still reading Julius Caesar (Shakespeare) and has yet to start Till We Have Faces (Lewis)

 

She (and her middle school sister) also had some fun reading that didn't have to be analyzed to death:

 

Mara, Daughter of the Nile (two-thumbs up)

Shadow Hawk (two-thumbs down)

The Ides of April (two-thumbs down)

The Eagle of the Ninth and The Lantern Bearers (one-thumb up and one thumb down for this series - the latter vote coming from my dd aged 13. I really liked these myself!)

 

 

 

You know, I think the ancients are really weighted towards boys rather than girls -- lots of wars and battles and boy-becoming-man-warrior tales. We just did the ancients last year and our boys really liked those classic epic tales (Gilgamesh, Iliad, Odyssey, Oedipus, Antigone), and the historical fiction (Shadow Hawk, Ides of April, Hittite Warrior, God King, Till We Have Faces). Looking it over, I think "poor girls"! Not much for females to connect with -- and it comes just at a time when girls are maturing and need good woman role models in real life and in the literature! Thanks for sharing your list, Denise... definitely food for thought... Warmly, Lori D.

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I think The Scarlett Letter should be buried in the middle of the deepest sea, just my humble opinion based on my memories of high school English.

 

Snort! My son agrees with you although I think he would prefer that all copies be dropped into the sun of another galaxy.

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Hit is a relative term. Books my dd was sure she'd hate that I found her reading when she didn't have to be reading them:

 

Idylls of the King

The Call of the Wild

How Green was my Valley. All are from the literature course we tried this year.

 

I actually read The Scarlett Letter this year, and didn't hate it. In fact, there were things I liked about it. Just don't drop me in another galaxy, okay? Perhaps it's my age. It's not my favourite novel and the first chapter is one of the most boring I've ever read, but parts of it were rather interesting. I liked it better than Don Quixote and better than I'm liking Pilgrim's Progress.

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I actually read The Scarlett Letter this year, and didn't hate it. In fact, there were things I liked about it. Just don't drop me in another galaxy, okay? Perhaps it's my age. It's not my favourite novel and the first chapter is one of the most boring I've ever read, but parts of it were rather interesting. I liked it better than Don Quixote and better than I'm liking Pilgrim's Progress.

 

We can go to that galaxy with you, Scarlett Letter was a big hit over here! We were fighting for the book!

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I actually read The Scarlett Letter this year, and didn't hate it. In fact, there were things I liked about it. Just don't drop me in another galaxy, okay? Perhaps it's my age. It's not my favourite novel and the first chapter is one of the most boring I've ever read, but parts of it were rather interesting. I liked it better than Don Quixote and better than I'm liking Pilgrim's Progress.

 

Personally, I enjoyed The Scarlet Letter on this go around. Far better than my first reading of the book in high school. But that does not mean that I am sorry to have included it on my son's reading list. He too may return to the book someday to discover that which he missed on the first go around.

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This year my freshman dd studied modern history. I tried to keep the books age-appropriate, and the list reflects that. We added in some Austen and Shakespeare for fun.

 

Hits:

The Scarlett Pimpernel

Murder on the Orient Express

The Importance of Being Earnest

A Day No Pigs Would Die (although she thought it very sad)

Pygmalion

Northanger Abbey

The Great Gatsby

Nine Coaches Waiting (one of the books to break up the reading list)

Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl

The Hiding Place (she wrote her big paper of the year comparing Anne Frank and Corrie ten Boom)

Animal Farm

Romeo and Juliet

As You Like It

 

Misses:

The Red Badge of Courage

The Call of the Wild

The Old Man and the Sea

 

 

Just okay:

Uncle Tom's Cabin

The Outsiders

The Glass Menagerie

The Crucible

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We did M/R/R this year.

 

Katie (18)

losers - The Confessions of Saint Augustine and Romeo and Juliet

winners - Piers Plowman and The Inferno

 

Sarah (16)

losers - The Confessions of Saint Augustine and Dr. Faustus

winner - Macbeth, The Prince and On the Incarnation

 

The Confessions was definitely on the bottom of the list. They found him self-obsessed and pretty horrible and too much of it was just plain over our heads :glare:

 

Romeo and Juliet was just so stupid! Dr. Faustus had a good plot but my daughter did not like it as a play. Maybe she will like Goethe's Faust...

 

Piers Plowman was wierd but cool. We all like Pilgrim's Progress so we liked the style right off. The Inferno was wild! Macbeth is just awesome (we re-read it this year because we all like it). The Prince was hilarious. On The Incarnation was beautiful.

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ds's comments

 

Don Quixote - he found too few morals for so many pages

 

Henry V - liked this

 

Meditations by Donne - bland, always talking about the same thing (related to his illness), depressing

 

Meditations by Descartes (ok we did this in French so it was harder) - he got fairly irritated with him and calls him a show-off of his knowledge - logic and reasoning too hard (this is his 15 yo opinion)

 

Tartuffe - (also in French) - ok but only one story line (theatre at that time), one set...

 

Pilgrim's Progress - had read before so not as interesting

 

Gulliver's Travels - liked except for lewdish scenes...

 

Songs of Innocence and Experience - liked these - found the Poison Tree quite interesting

 

Frankenstein - liked (I'll just put in a comment here because the setting is Geneva, so it is interesting to see the city through Shelley's eyes in the 1800's....also the image of seeing the monster climbing the Saleve is completely unrealistic as it is miles away and he would have to be 50 meters tall to see him - but that is artistic liberty)

 

Last of the Mohicans - he found it too violent

 

Tale of Two Cities (in place of Oliver) - "left an impression due to Dicken's style of writing"

 

Scarlet Letter - "thought-provoking"

 

Moby Dick - "interesting but long"

 

We don't finish til the end of June, so plan to read more of the poets and Kant...

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My 15 yo has liked the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, The Federick Douglas autobiography, Poe short stories, and Moby Dick. SHe did not like The Scarlett Letter and we did not conitnue with that. We are not done with our school year and hope to be done by late August. The one she really told me to write down that she hates is "To Build a Fire", which she read 3 years ago. She hates that so much that she told me she would do American lit this year as long as there was no more Jack London. I said fine, since there are more than enough other good authors.

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Misses were:

 

Lord of the Flies (neither one of us could bring ourselves to read this as our last book; we both tried and decided it was too depressing for words . . . so we substituted Sense & Sensibility instead even though we certainly didn't "need" another Austen ;))

 

 

Isn't it funny? My son lovedand I mean loved Lord of the Flies. He talks about it often and uses it as illustrations in other contexts. Me? I found it depressing, too.:)

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Isn't it funny? My son lovedand I mean loved Lord of the Flies. He talks about it often and uses it as illustrations in other contexts. Me? I found it depressing, too.:)

 

 

Too funny. I read that book on my own in high school and loathed it; however, back then if I started a book, I finished it. It's amazing what people like. My middle one is likely to like Don Quixote--she loved the humour in the kids' versoin of the windmills, but I thought it just plain stupid. I do love a couple of the speeches in that book, particularly the one by the beautiful shepherdess who is being blamed for the death of a shepherd who apparently died from unrequited love. It is brilliant and very funny. But the story as a whole did nothing for me. Perhaps if I'd heard it on tape...

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From the 14 yo ~

We are doing Omni II and still working through. Amazingly most of his real wins were from reading he found time to do on his own.

 

Hits:

Farenheit 451

The Martian Chronicles (Bradbury)- found it odd and difficult to understand but really liked it.

Beowulf

A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, Wind in the Door and Wrinkle in Time (L'Engle)

Robin Hood

Song of Roland

Screwtape Letters

St. Benedicts Rule- interesting, though didn't agree with all of it.

Dragon King trilogy (Lawhead)

Sir Kendrick (Chuck Black)

The Children of Hurin (Tolkein) - he recommends reading parts of The Simarilian to really understand it.

 

 

so-so

Eragon

 

The vote here from the 18 yo is The Scarlett Letter is one of her very favs and she just can't get past chapter 1 (like her mother before her) of Moby Dick.

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The vote here from the 18 yo is The Scarlett Letter is one of her very favs and she just can't get past chapter 1 (like her mother before her) of Moby Dick.

 

Interesting. I remember reading Moby Dick when I was a teen, all on my own for fun, but I didn't try The Scarlett Letter until this spring. It's been a long time, but I think I actually liked the book, perhaps because I'd seen the movie first.

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We are only halfway through our Medieval year- well, not even that.

 

Ivanhoe is turning out to be a great hit. I read it aloud. Its our favourite book of the week.

 

The Brendan Voyage is also turning out to be a surprising hit. Its from the HEO7 booklist. Both my kids are sailors so that helps.

 

Watership Down- they are doing ok with it.

The Once and Future King. Ds13 has loved all the books and finished. Dd15 is doing ok with them, still plodding through, but she has already read The Crystal Cave and The Mists of Avalon- she might be a bit Arthured out.

 

The Faerie Queen - but a retelling by Geraldine McGeoghran- has been a hit. I intend to read some of the original once they both finish it.

 

Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew- very surprising to me, even though it was only the movie, they both absolutely loved it! It has Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. They even watched it in their free time, they enjoyed it so much.

 

Henry V was a big miss. We just could not get into the movie at all and stopped it. I might try it again though.

Sophie's World is proving a hit. I think some of the philosophy is going over their head, but we do it together as a read aloud and discussion, and I feel we are all- especially me :)- getting a lot out of it. It puts a lot of things in context that I hadnt understood before.

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Thank you to everyone who contributed to this thread! While I initially wrote a quick post that included only the high and low points of our year, I am grateful to those who responded with thorough lists as well as though who pinpointed favorites or not so favorites.

 

How interesting to see varying reactions to a particular work, specifically books that are considered foundational in the Literary Canon. As is often noted, it is unfortunate that so much of good literature is read only by those who are too young to appreciate it! One wonders if adults regularly read and discussed the "canon" if the canon itself would change.

 

About our relationships with books: How do we define a "good" book, let alone a "great" one? Must there be a character who resonates with us for the book to be one that is a "hit"? That seems to be true with many of our students. At what point to we rise above empathy to engage a book on its terms (not ours)?

 

We should probably start other threads on books we read with indifference in high school that became meaningful as adults or perhaps one on books we read in high school (or college) that we revisit regularly, that is, books that we treat like dear friends with whom we seem to have an ongoing conversation.

 

With gratitude to all in my Well Trained community,

Jane

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The Questing Knights of the Faerie Queen, Geraldine McCaughrean

ISBN 0340 86621 7 (HB)

 

Found it! Thanks for this - I've wanted him to read the Faerie Queen, but I knew he'd never get past the language...

 

 

a

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