Back to School Book Blogger Challenge: Day 7 – My Most Inspiring Assignment Books
Day 7 – What are the most inspiring books you’ve read that have been assigned to you?
I’ve mentioned in a discussion post before that I don’t really like studying novels. Short stories, I can get down with because short stories are awesome. It’s a big fat no way in hell for poetry though (poetry can go jump in a hole). I haven’t had the best experience with studying books and I kind of blame the school and sixth form that I went to. The books that I enjoyed the most were books that we ended up not studying for one reason or the other, and the rest I was either completely indifferent towards or hated with every fibre of my being (that aside, I will still fiercely defend GCSE English because I really don’t think it makes kids end up hating reading because most of those kids probably didn’t like reading in the first place, and it’s all down to the teacher).
My two choices are a little strange because these are books that I was supposed to study and ended up barely doing anything on them.
I was supposed to study this book for GCSE English because everybody else (apart from the top set who studied Hard Times) was doing Of Mice and Men, which we had pretty much done every single year because the teachers couldn’t really think of anything else to teach by the end of the year. Want to know how many chapters of To Kill a Mockingbird we read? One. ONE CHAPTER. Why? About four people (and not to be mean, but these were lazy kids) complained that it was “too hard”. I personally would love to hear how To Kill a Mockingbird, a book written in plain English with barely any slang, is harder than Of Mice and Men. Anyways, we took a vote and over half the class wanted to continue with To Kill a Mockingbird, and we ended up doing Of Mice and Men anyway. I ended up taking a copy out of the school library because I wanted to continue on with it myself, and now it’s one of my favourite books that I still need to own a copy of.
Ah, my favourite book ever. I’d read Nineteen Eighty-Four for the first time when I was 14 after a friend on Piczo (shows how long I’ve been on the internet for) recommended it to me. For my second year of A Levels, this book was the book that we had to write an essay on, and it was assigned as summer reading (one of the teachers actually said “I’m sorry, but you’ll have to read it again”, and of course I didn’t mind it’s one of my favourite books). That summer reading assignment basically ended up being for nothing because the teacher that I got decided to do the syllabus her own way. Which was completely upside down. The other class studied Frankenstein first, which we didn’t touch until after Christmas vacation and ended up spending too long on. Instead, we studied stories from Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber (which were okay, I didn’t really think much of them) as part of feminist criticism and then, for some reason, we studied Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, which will go down as one of the worst short stories/novellas I’ve ever read. We finally get to Nineteen Eighty-Four about three quarters of the way through the term, and it turns out that I’m the only person who can answer any questions about it because I’m the only person who’s read it twice (even my friend who read it once didn’t say as much as I did), which I didn’t mind because I was totally in my element there. We spent one week on it. Yeah, just one week. That’s two classes that last two hours each. Four hours on one book that we were supposed to write a whole essay on. But, despite that little experience, this is the book that started me off in dystopian fiction and it’s shaped what my view on dystopian fiction should be.
And I have one more as a bonus, because I technically didn’t study it at all, but it has inspired me a lot.
This is the book that gave me my writing style (obviously not my blog writing style, my fiction writing style). My original writing assignment at GCSE was to write the opening of a detective novel, using The Big Sleep as a stimulus (every other class just got told “write a story”. my friend wrote a story about a vet going into space), and even though I’m not one for bragging, I got an A for that assignment. Yeah, I’m just that great. In fact, you can read it here if you want! It’s been changed since then, and I waited two years before posting it online, but I’m still proud of it. Anways, we only had the first chapter to go by so I got myself a copy of the book and I’ve since been hooked on the Philip Marlowe series and Raymond Chandler is my biggest writing inspiration. From reading his work, I’ve learnt how to effectively write in the first person and use a character’s voice to the best of my ability.
What about you? What assignment books do you remember the most?