Required Reading – The Rants: Grendel by John Gardner

I didn’t exactly love every book I read for ‘school’ purposes, no, but it was rare I was left with the ‘I want to set this book on fire’ reaction.

Required Reading, book rants, Grendel, John Gardner, Serena Saint-Marceaux, classic books

The book for my Required Reading Rave came to me immediately when we Ferrets were discussing this series. As it happened, a few minutes later when I was trying to think of required reading books I utterly loathed . . . this one came to mind almost as quickly.

 

A Classic I Loathe:
Grendel, by John Gardner

Grendel, classics, required reading, John Gardner, book rant

Grendel, by John Gardner

. . .oh, the irony. I actually wasn’t going to choose this book for this post, much as I hate the dratted thing, but . . . well, among other things, Michelle encouraged me to do so. After the third time since our Ferret Meeting in January that she has heard parts of my rant about this bloody godsforsaken book

Okay, deep breaths. It’s okay – I’m calm. Continue reading

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Required Reading – The Rants: Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Required Reading, book rants, The Lord of the Flies, William Golding, Eris O'Reilly, classic books

(A/N: I had this written before I saw Rebekah’s blog post. XD Looks this is going to be just a continuation of why she’ll never read this book.)

LordOfTheFliesBookCover

Lord of the Flies, by William Golding.

Like a lot of kids taking public education in America, I first had to read Lord of the Flies in high school. And to tell you the truth, I couldn’t even finish it. I managed to get just far enough in it that I could fake it for a C on the essay test. (I don’t even know how I accomplished that, but I did. Read only about two-thirds of it, still managed a C. I wonder if this says more about me than the book, or vice versa.) I have no idea what the ending is. I’m pretty sure they murder a kid? And possibly eat him? I have no idea.

Anyway, the reason I couldn’t stomach it is still very clear to me. It’s a bunch of entitled white boys doing terrible, horrible things to each other. And frankly, I could see that every day—my high school was full of entitled dudes doing awful things to each other and everyone else. I really didn’t need to read a book about it, even if the backdrop was an island paradise.

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Required Reading – The Rants: Dracula by Bram Stoker

Required Reading- The Rants - Dracula

Y’all, I was into vampires in high school and college. Well, into a lot of fantasy and paranormal stuff, really, but I really enjoyed vampires in particular. I ended up taking a class called Vampires and Voodoo when I was a freshman in college, which no one believes, but it actually ended up being a lot of fun.

Despite all that, I hadn’t ever read the granddaddy of vampire literature: Dracula by Bram Stoker. I’d seen the 1992 movie, which I rather like, but I’d never made the time to read the book.

Now that I have, I can honestly say I almost wish I hadn’t.

A Classic I Loathe:
Dracula by Bram Stoker

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Required Reading — The Raves: Beowulf

When we Ferrets sat down and discussed this series I knew instantly what I wanted to talk about for my post. And can you get much more classic than the oldest (surviving) epic poem in the English language?

required reading the raves, required reading, fictional ferrets, rabid rainbow ferret society, classic books, book recommendation, Beowulf, Serena Saint-Marceaux

I’ve read many classics over the years, and surprisingly few of them were under the dreaded label of ‘Required Reading’ though that may be in part due to my unorthodox school life. (That may also be why I often didn’t know I was reading a classic or something that might be ‘required reading’ material.) It may also be because I dove into them early.

Beowulf remains a stand-out among them in my memory for a number of reasons, though it wasn’t the first classic I read. Continue reading

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Required Reading — The Raves: The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

sherlock holmesI didn’t actually read anything of Doyle’s until college. I technically majored in Creative Writing, but ended up taking a lot of coursework in British Victorian literature. (If I remember right, I took every single class that was offered on the subject during my stay at college.) So, clearly, I already like the form and rhythm of Victorian lit.

I was assigned to read a Sherlock Holmes short story in one of the classes. I can’t remember which class—I think maybe the Gods and Monsters one? Or maybe it was just the short story class? It kind of doesn’t matter because I also can’t remember which story it was that was actually assigned. I’m pretty sure it was the Five Orange Pips one. Anyway, I found myself really enjoying it. Like, more than I thought I would. I liked it so much that I went out and bought the complete collection of Sherlock Holmes (two massive volumes, actually), and read through the entire thing in about a month.

Mind you, this was during and between assignments when I was averaging reading an assigned 120k of words a week and writing reports on them. Basically a long novel every single week, split up between poetry and short stories and actual novels. So squeezing in another, half a million words or something of Sherlock Holmes is kind of a testament to how much I freaking liked it.

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Required Reading – The Raves: Shelley and Dickens

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My introduction to the classics was completely voluntary. I was homeschooled, and my mother decided not to require a literature course from me at all to graduate high school. (To be fair, the course teaching me how to balance a checkbook was probably far more useful, and a skill I am very grateful for now.)

There were a few reasons to her decision about literature. First, I read a lot on my own. I read encyclopedias for fun, even, and it was clear even at a young age that my critical thinking skills were not lacking. Until puberty hit, at least. Second, there was a lot going on in my home life as a child, much of it not good (though not horrendously bad, compared to many other people). We learned the important things, and sometimes there wasn’t time or energy left for anything else. Third, I don’t think my mother had a good introduction or experience with literature during her own school days – either grade school, or college – and she probably was at a loss of how to teach it to me or my siblings. I know one of her most memorable moments was in one of her literature classes in college, when she had to read The Two Towers. But she hadn’t read The Fellowship of the Ring, and so I’m sure you can imagine that was more than a little… confusing.

I read a few classics in my school days (The Scarlet Letter, and several of Jane Austen’s works, for the most part) but didn’t start branching out into the ones that had always caught my eye (the ones I sometimes set back because I didn’t know if my mom would let me read them because she might think they were too scary) until I was in college.

My ‘rave’ for today is one of those.  Continue reading