Friday, December 5, 2008

Most Boring School Aged Books (my personal list of hatred and loathing)

In the spirit of keeping up with "what the people want," I'm going to further my posts from recent days in which I threw down on such classic books as Little House on the Prairie and To Kill A Mockingbird. Today I wanted to head off in a little bit more of a personal opinion direction, and discuss books that are boring (I don't even really want to get into the relevance or politically correctness of these books).

I'm focusing on literature, so no text books, because that literally would compose my entire list. Keep in mind, this is personal, and if you disagree, please, join in on the conversation, I'm having fun with this, and I experienced a lot of these in high school, when I was slightly less agreeable than I am today. My list consists of books from my own personal experience, meaning books that I have personally read or attempted to read but didn't finish (which was quite common of me in high school). I'm going to do a top 10 here. So here we go (I'm probably going to pay dearly for some of the books on this list, but bring it on):

THE TOP 10 MOST BORING SCHOOL AGED BOOKS, in no particular order (ages 8-18)

The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding - Yeah, the part when Piggy fell off of the cliff and his brains fell out was pretty awesome when I was 16, but this book dragged like a two-legged-dog (OK, wow, that is the worst analogy of all time). At the time, I wasn't ready to appreciate the microcosm for society at large that this book displayed, and now that I am old enough to appreciate it, I don't.

Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë - I don't care what you say about this book, it was HORRIFICALLY BORING in every way that a book can be boring. Let me set the scene for you. Senior AP English, we're reading this book, and the entire class balked at it. We actually didn't finish it because the entire class refused. I have to say that is my great honor to have no finished this book. It may be whatever it is to you, but to me, *gag*.

Anything Shakespeare - I'm not talking about a book, I am literally talking about Shakespeare stuff. There were certain kids in class with me who profoundly enjoyed The Bard's work, but it put me to sleep. For some reason, it still does. My wife likes Shakespeare, but I can't stomach any of it, it's just a personal thing I guess. I would say that 3/4's of the words used in Shakespeare aren't even in the dictionary anymore, so that might have something to do with it.

Moby Dick , by Herman Melville- It's always a humorous title to say out loud for a young teenager. that light hearted, sick humor quickly fades by the end of chapter one. I've always thought that Moby Dick is considered great because it's one of those books that enlightened people are "supposed to like." Well, I'm enlightened now (in my own enlightened opinion), and I still can't get past "Call me Ishmael."

Little House on the Prairie, by Laura Ingalls Wilder - Uh oh, I'm returning to the scene of previous crimes against literary classics (offended by me, earlier this week, and again a few days ago). This was an elementary school read that I hated with my entire being. I hated it again when I first became a teacher and had to read a part of it out of the reading textbook. Eventually I got the guile to finally ditch the textbook altogether, and this lovely pile of boring set off my fight against textbooks, so I guess it's good for something.

The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger - If you go over to my Goodreads page, you might see 3 stars next to this book. It wasn't the worst book ever, in fact, some of the innuendo was pretty interested and funny. But the character of Holden Caufield, as a whole, came across a little hastily put together, a walking stereotype that was a little one dimensional. In my opinion, this book is not the classic many say it is, and I re-read it just about two years ago, in one sitting, and decided that it is still boring.

Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell - I had to read this book in middle school, and it still sits on my classroom shelf. I believe in giving my students some choice, and this book has been read by a few students of mine over the years, some liking it and some not. I'm more on the side of the not. I tend to have pretty demanding tastes, and the autobiography of a horse just doesn't cut mustard with me.

The Borrowers, by Mary Norton - I read this book to my class for two years, and finally decided it was time to stop. This book is inconsistent in terms of vocabulary, comes across a little slowly, and doesn't seem to hold interest anymore down here where I live and teach. I'm just speaking from experience and all that.

R.L. Stine stuff - OK, stop, don't yell. I have pretty much every R.L. Stine book ever written on the shelf in my classroom, and they are beloved by many. I'm saying that personally, I never could stand them. I actually feel like I outgrew them when I was like 10. I would get them for birthdays and Christmas, smile, say thank you, then go trade them off at the bookstore.

Leveled Readers - I'm going generic here at the last. Most elementary teachers know what leveled readers are, it's those really short books that teach a skill in isolation. The stories are usually hastily made, and the books have no real point. I guess they work sometimes for struggling students, but honestly, they're not literature.


Ms. Yingling said...

Sometimes it depends on the enthusiasm of a teacher or librarian for a book. Most of this list coincides with my own (Moby Dick? Ugh!)but I loved The Borrowers as a child and have a small fan base for it. And my daughter loved Black Beauty. I don't know that these books are boring as much as they are boring FOR YOU. There is a difference. Thanks for a lot of food for thought today.

The Buss said...

I appreciate your comments. I was very clear and up front that this was the most boring books FOR ME, a personal list. I am picky.

Anonymous said...

I remember being bored mostly by all those because the characters were impossible to relate to or the stories dragged and dragged. What is so classic about pages of narrative describing filigree on a fireplace or whatever?

A true classic is "The Time Machine" or "The Mists of Avalon"!