We've all had to read in school, and most of the time we weren't really enjoying those books, right? Everyone faced that problem at some point in life, and book authors and editors are no different in this. Here's what Glass Housers remember about their school reading assignments.
I must admit that I was not a big reader in my early childhood. You have to understand, this was the late 1980’s and the literary option for youngsters was not what it is today. Aside from the occasional comic book, reading wasn’t something that excited me all that much. Part of it had to do with the fact that most of the stuff we were forced to read in school felt dull and boring to me. I wish I could cite some examples, but for the life of me I just can’t recall and specific titles or works. It all faded from my mind the second the quiz ended or the hastily-scribbled essay was turned in. That’s what these assigned reading projects represented to me. A chore. More homework to slog through, robing me of precious Sega time.
That all changed when my ninth grade English teacher asked us to read The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. Here we go. Another reading assignment. But wait. There’s something to this one. I can actually relate to it. Holy cow. This is good! The next thing I knew, I was reading it at lunch and in between my classes. I couldn’t put it down. This caused me to seek out all of Hinton’s other books. And then other books by other writers. Soon, I was a reading fool. Sega what? Forget that, I have books to read.
So if you have a teen or young person in your life that isn’t big into reading yet, don’t give up. Try to find new stories and authors that might spark their interest. Keep exposing them to different books and styles. Who knows? They just might find their S.E. Hinton.
Jessica Gang, editor at Glass House Press
I went to an all girls catholic high school, so as far as the literary canon we were pretty conservative. I took freshman year English with Sister Karen (RIP, although I am only assuming she passed away since she was like a million years old when I was a freshman—but those nuns have an unbelievable way of living well past a normal life span, so who knows.). With all the respect deserving of a Catholic Nun, I am telling you that learning Romeo and Juliet from her was counter-intuitive, to say the least. Learning about romantic and passionate love from a woman who pledged celebacy, was... well, not my favorite. One day, when I asked the girl behind me to borrow a pencil so I could take notes, Sister Karen berated me in front of the class and forced me to give her (the nun, not the student) a kiss while everyone watched. So obviously, she did understand the forcefulness of love. Needless to say that Romeo and Juliet never held the esteem for me that it should have for a literature major or an editor. Sophmore year was a little better as we did The Great Gatsby, which I read in less than 12 hours—because lets be honest, even the bookiest 15 year has better things to do than read the classics—and I loved it. Still one of my all-time favorites.
Tash McAdam, author of SLAM, Blood in the Water, forthcoming Maelstrom (The Psionics series) and Warp Weavers series
I was a weird mixture between an excellent student and a terrible one, which I mostly blame on a lack of patience for poor teaching and a smart-ass attitude. When I was in grade eight we were supposed to read Lord of the Flies. Usually I love English, but I'd actually read Lord of the Flies three years earlier (when my sister had it for grade eight and I pinched it off her). Although I enjoyed it, I had no intention of reading it again that soon, there are far too many books in the world to repeat anything but the very best. In class we had a lot of silent reading time where we were assigned a specific chapter to get through, or, worse, the class read out loud in turn. (I don't even listen to audio books because the slow pacing makes me want to punch things unless I am otherwise occupied). So I hid the books I was actually reading inside Lord of the Flies when this was happening. I got in trouble when it was my turn to read and I had no idea where we were, so decided to make up the next bit using what I could remember of the story. The teacher didn't actually have the book out to follow along with the students, and it took a good five minutes before anyone realised that I was talking a load of baloney (see, smart ass). My teacher was stunned because I was usually a top student in her class, and I spent the rest of the class in the hallway and the next two days writing an extra paper on the book, which meant I did have to reread it. As I expected, it wasn't nearly as good the second time.
Lindsay Graham, publishing assistant at Glass House Press
Due to not remembering high school (thanks brain injury), I therefore do not remember what I read in high school very well and only fully recall what I read in college. My favorite read from college would have to be Ulysses by James Joyce. My number one reason of why this behemoth of a book stuck with me is that the main character was hailed as heroic, at least in my opinion, even though he is rather ordinary. His extraordinary compassion and empathy is what makes him a hero and I love the fact that Joyce shows these qualities as strengths in this book. I also absolutely love the fact that Joyce goes one to provide different view points and proves the fallibility of only one view on situations and relationships. This is one of my all-time favorites and if time would allow it, I would reread it again and again. In a world that is often being told to have less compassion and a society that is often blinded by their own views, I think that Joyce hits the nail on the head with compassion, empathy, and having the ability to view different perspectives.
Also, my professor was insanely attractive and it was easy to pay attention to in-class discussions.Also, my professor was insanely attractive and it was easy to pay attention to in-class discussions.
, CEO of Glass House Press, editor and publisher
I'm pulling the brain surgery card as well. don't remember a lot of high school, and certainly don't remember any books that stood out there. In fact, the thing I DO remember is that I didn't read To Kill a Mockingbird specifically b/c I was doing a different project at the time, and felt very shorted. College, though, is something different. As an English major I was in English and literature classes all day every day. I had to read Wuthering Heights for the fifteen millionth time—at least three times in college—and I still hated it. What I did love, and this was pretty shocking, was The Canterbury Tales. And every Shakespeare play I read. And the Pearl Poet. Now these were all great authors, truthfully, and I bow before them. But one of the reasons I adored them so much was that I had the same professor for all ... five of those classes. He was one of the foremost Chaucer scholars in the world, and he was always telling us stories about getting to go Into The Vaults in London and actually see —SEE!!! — the original Chaucer manuscripts. He TOUCHED THE SAME PAPER THAT CHAUCER TOUCHED. As a history buff and English nerd, that was completely beyond, for me. And knowing that a professor had that level of influence really opened my mind to actually hearing what he was telling us about the works. It was truly one of the most amazing things about being at such a big university—knowing people like that. Other favorites at that time: Milton, Prometheus Lost, Frankenstein. Yes, I was into the heavies. And no, those weren't the professors I dated (long story).
All images from Goodreads.