Assigned Reading


I’m reading the abridged version of The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. Everyone keeps on saying what a good book it was and how it was their favorite assigned reading book in high school.

So far, my worst books were Oedipus Rex and The Odyssey because I found them boring. Greek and Roman mythology is interesting, but nothing changes. It’s like how I’m bored with the Bible. I’m a good Catholic, private school Pre-K through eight, public high school but in Confirmation class and Sunday Bible and Catechism readings with my family. I’ve read the entire Bible from Genesis through Revelations twice but other passages multiple times. I don’t think that’s a good thing. I can go through the motions of Mass and tune out everything and listen to a sentence or two of the Gospel and I know the story. Second readings are more confusing but no one focuses on those as much. If God inspired some new evangelists to write a Bible II, I’d read that enthusiastically.

I liked All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque because big font and spacing and it related to what I was learning in history. I watch videos in that class and it made war sound more interesting and less textbook-y. My brother’s name is Paul so I liked the main character immediately. I liked his closeness with his war buddies, Kat, Kropp, Tjaden, Muller, Haie, and Leer. I loved how chapter five started with “Killing each separate louse is a tedious business when a man has hundreds. The little beasts are hard and the everlasting cracking with one’s fingernails very soon becomes wearisome.” because it was where I started reading after my initial is-this-book-boring skim through. I saw Paul’s change from someone who enlisted because his classmates all were to a soldier afraid of family to a dead man so insignificant in the whole grand scheme that he was nameless, third-person. “He fell in October 1918, on a day that was so quiet and still on the whole front, that the army report confined itself to the single sentence: All quiet on the Western Front.” I love that I memorized lines from that book after writing and highlighting them in my notes.

I loved To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I read that book three times in my own time before freshman year. I was never behind because I knew that book and all I had to do was the analysis. I liked how Scout was a tomboy and I loved how she was ham for that play. I love how chicken wire and Boo Radley saved her life. I loved her and her friends, Jem and Dill.

I read Fahrenheit 451 in eighth grade and it confused me. In ninth, it was no better. I just had to do more work – vocabulary flash cards, symbolism, and analysis.

I don’t like A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens because I don’t like Lucie Manette or her father. I think I was cheering for the wrong side because I found Madame Defarge fascinating. I didn’t like all the symbolism and descriptions because they were tiring to read. Why does wine symbolize death?

I hate Romeo and Juliet. So much needless death. And the tights in the movie. I need more reasons for really not liking it. I Sparknoted, Schmooped, Cliffnoted, and Gradesavered it and didn’t really attempt to read it. I got Bs on reading checks and a D on the overall test.

I think that was all my assigned reading and if not, whatever I missed didn’t impact me at all and I formed no opinions about it. Also, there was this book with ice and plane cast-off and canned food. The main character was male and the actor for the movie had a pasty pale behind that was seen briefly on-screen because my teacher was outside talking to someone and didn’t skip through. My class was very immature about this. Rats were eaten. There were wolves and a creepy guy with missing teeth. There was a grandma and a catfish in toilet. There was a cream of rat soup recipe in that book. I don’t remember the title or the plot.

I don’t know if I like The Count of Monte Cristo. The most memorable thing so far was that guy who was executed and that “graphic” description of blood spurting from his neck. To be honest, I was expecting a more gruesome death. There was a crowd and big important people watching. The other guy (innocent maybe) got out alive with the Count’s help. Dantes’ vengeance is supposed to be the most interesting part and I’m not there yet. I hate how everyone’s go-to is suicide and it’s seen as more honorable to die than to lie. Honorable suicide is like Red Badge of Courage. I don’t deserve to talk about that book because I didn’t even plough through a single chapter. The main character was a coward. He hid. He ran. He lied. War sucks. People were dying around him.

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