Happy Summer, everyone! Who’s excited for the summertime? I know I am…especially because we’re headed to New York this month! (But who is dreading required summer reading?!)
I know that a bunch of you have planned vacation from Hawaii to Costa Rica, to Europe and California. Wherever you are headed, safe travels, document your trip, and have a fantastic time.
Now if there’s one thing that always bummed me out about the summer, it was the required reading. I know that the goal of reading a required book was that you’d keep flexing your brain muscles over the summer…but really? It put such a damper on my summer plans. If you have required reading this summer, I wish you good luck and hopefully you didn’t dread it nearly as much as I did.
If you’re a bookworm or find it super easy to remember and analyze literature, I salute you. I wish I had more of those skills in high school when I needed them!
5 Things I Hated about Required Summer Reading
1. It was required
Let’s be honest. When you are required to do something, it’s always less fun. It’s like, “YOU MUST DO THIS!” and unless it’s something you really want like a drivers license where you “must” practice for your test…who really wants to do it. I never enjoyed reading for pleasure until it was for that express reason…for fun. Whenever I had required reading, I used to dread it.
2. Weird and uninteresting books
I don’t know about your school, but at my high school, the English teachers seemed to be in collusion. They must have gotten together and chosen either obscure or the weirdest books they could find and compiled a list. They then handed that list out to their English classes and said, “Have fun reading one of these books!” I remember looking at the choices and none of them seemed interesting. I always tried to choose the book that would be the most interesting to me, yet it usually turned out to be not the case. Either the books were way to science fiction or they were general literature, but dreadfully boring. Who wants to analyze a boring book?!
3. Analysis paralysis
Which takes me to this point…analysis. If there’s ever a way to kill enjoyment from reading a book (in my humble opinion) it’s required analysis. English was not my strong subject…like ever. I would do well enough to make it through Honors English and into AP English, but every time we had to analyze a book (which was ALL THE DANG TIME!) I’d get nervous and feel paralyzed. I was not a fan of analyzing books, whether it was the symbolism, a monologue from a character, or the underlying themes. It would make my palms sweat and heart race. I’m like, I read the book, isn’t that good enough?!
4. Reading too soon or too late
So I don’t know about you, but when I read a book, I usually enjoy it in the moment. I’ll remember characters and the plot. However, once I’m done reading, I’ll typically forget about it, unless I really loved the book. It’s one of those things where it’s not super important to store that information in my memory. Now with required summer reading, you have to remember what happened in the book. At least long enough to recall details on the first day/week of school. But what if the book is dreadfully dry and boring? How do you remember those details? I know there’s things like taking notes, but who wants to do that? I never did! Ha. It was always a delicate balance of deciding when to start reading the book. If you started at the start of summer, by the time school starts, I would have forgotten everything. If you started too late, you run the risk of not finishing the book in time.
I’m sure real booklovers never have this issue…
5. Timed write on the first day of school
And if there was ever a way to add to the dread / suck the fun out of the first day or week of school (depending on how you feel about it!) it was the TIMED WRITE. Depending on the book selected, the teacher would have a writing prompt and there would be a timed write. Now I know that typically these timed writes were simply to show the teacher that you read the book over the summer and were not counted towards your grade (unless it is for some of you, I’m sorry), but there wasn’t much else that could launch me into the sweats than a timed write. It wasn’t because I didn’t read the book, it was because I did and worried I wouldn’t remember the one detail the teacher wanted us to write about or theme to analyze.
It was never fun for me.
It wasn’t until the summer of my senior year (going into my first year of college) that I discovered my love of reading. I really do enjoy reading. That summer, I must have read at least ten books. What was the difference? Well, for one, it wasn’t required, I got to choose whatever book my heart desired, there was no timed write looming in the near future, and it was fun and enjoyable.
I love reading when it’s for fun and a book that I’m actually interested in.
In fact, I just finished reading To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time. Somehow, I made it through high school and it was never required reading or on the curriculum. I felt that it was much more impactful on my life now than it would have been if it was required reading back in the day.
Do you enjoy required summer reading? Or are you like me and dread it?
What is your favorite book? I’d love to add some titles to my “To-Read” list!