Thursday, January 9, 2014

Required Reading & The Stone Angel by Margret Laurence

I'm always very weary about required reading. I have a really hard time picking up a book when it's "required." You could call me a required reading rebel; RRR? (that's sounds pretty cool actually- No? okay...)
Thinking back on all the books I've read in school, I've actually quite enjoyed them (To Kill a Mockingbird excluded) but that's only thinking back to the book. This is the first time I've really documented and thought if I really enjoyed the book or not and although I only rated it two out of five stars on Goodreads, I've found while analyzing it in class that I actually kinda like it.
I really love looking into the theme of a book (something that has acquired over time), and I couldn't tell you if this comes from all the books I've read in English since I could read or if I just take an interest to it. But I think most people know all the aspects to a book subconsciously and that's why they love reading. Things like Character and Narrative Development, and seeing characters different thoughts and ideas and interactions, and seeing beautiful imagery and connections and themes. That's what reading is really about; that's why writers write. Whenever someone tells me that English class is useless this is my debate for them. Literature is so so important and all these different aspects to a book are why writers... write. You don't just need a great plot, you need a great theme and substance.
And so, as much as I hate required reading and have come to not really enjoy classics because of it, I love how much work classic writers have put into their novels and I've come to appreciate it in my last year of high school.
SO! STONE ANGEL! As I said, I didn't exactly enjoy this book. Reading it was a job - it was work. I procrastinated reading it so much that I ended up with three days left of my Christmas break without having started it. And so with the book being 300 pages, I had to force myself to read 100 pages a day left on my break. Which I wouldn't recommend, it sucks. Needless to say, I hated it. I hated having to take my last days of winter break and read this book that I didn't care about. I'd heard it was boring and it was just about some lady's life and had no plot. I'm pretty sure I hardly paid attention in the first few chapters.
But then I kept reading and I really felt sorry for the main character, Hagar. This book is Hagar at 90 years old, doing a re-telling of her life. She's going through a lot of things at 90 years old; you can tell that she has Alzheimer's disease, and something else on top of that - which we are never told. In the meantime, her least favourite son and his not-so-cultured wife are living in her house and have to take care of her. It's amazing to be in her mind and see the world in a 90 year old's perspective.
I'm also saying this after discussing it in detail in my English class.
Many people say that they hate required reading, and I would still say the same thing. I don't like it. But, I think it has changed my outlook on books, but especially classics. I'm going to be honest and say that I used to be a classic snob - or a non-classic snob. I'm still not about that classic life, but I appreciate it much more.
x Emily

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