Books

Reading Stages and How To Read the “Classics”

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Hello beautiful people! This is Rachael again. And I am excited about my second post! I learned something way cool last semester and I can’t wait to share it all with you!

Okay, so if you are reading this I am going to assume you at least like to read. Very probably you love to read so much that you are thinking about what book you could be reading right now. But even if you don’t love reading with the passion of an exploding sun I do hope you will find what I have to say at least interesting.

So I will preface this post by saying that I am an English Education major so it will basically be my job to pass the love of reading on to the next generation.

And man is that a lot of pressure.

I know for a lot of people, it was their high school English teacher that made them either love reading whatever they could get their hands on or despise it so much that that never wanted to touch a book after high school. So I am fascinated by all theories and such about why people read or don’t read. Which brings me to today’s topic: Stages of Literary Appreciation.

The picture below came right out of my text book. It should be read from the bottom up. Go ahead. Peruse it. I will wait.

picture-stages

Cool right? Basically this theory is that you move up the stages and the “optimal age” is around the time most people should reach it if progressing properly. The book explains that some people reach the top stage much faster *ahem* and others never get past stage 3 or 4 *cries sad tears*.

I would like to draw your attention to the last level, level 7. Notice how this is the first time the “classics” are listed. Not in high school where every poor teen is force-fed them and expected to understand the literary nuances.

Guys, this is not their fault that they then turn around and hate reading. Most teens are not ready for this kind of book yet! I am not saying they should never read them or they can’t possibly get anything out of them. I myself enjoyed some of the “classics” such as Jane Eyre and The Odyssey in high school. But others were completely lost to me.  Forcing them to read for ascetic appreciation  (stage 7) when they have yet to conquer venturing beyond themselves (stage 5) is a bit like asking a fourth grader to do advanced algebra. They might be able to memorize the problems at best. But they will not get the full grasp and understanding and appreciation of math that I, uh, hear some people are blessed with.

This is a rather radical concept for the Education system. I have yet to meet someone who didn’t have to read a classic in high school such as The Great Gatsby or The Scarlet Letter. While Nathanial Hawthorn now holds a special place in my heart (I go crazy for symbolism) I absolutely hated The Scarlet Letter in high school.  I hated it so much I vowed to never read that “stupid book” ever again… Only to be required to read it junior year of college. I forced myself to open the pages only to discover this was not the book I remembered. I was awed by the way the author spun the plot and how he flipped the characters on end.

But enough about my literary crush on Nathanial Hawthorn and back to the topic at hand. I know I will be expected to teach the classics in my classroom; there is really no avoiding it. So what am I to do? Change the approach.

There is this wonderful approach to the classics that I was introduced to this past year. It is called book paring and it isn’t just for teachers! Basically, a more modern young adult novel is pared with a classic. First, the students read the modern YA and talk about theme and characters and such. Then, they read the classic with the understanding that many of the things they discussed will be similar. This makes the book more approachable and easier to understand because the students are looking for parallels that they can relate.

You can try it for yourself. If you are still scarred from reading The Scarlet Letter, may I suggest Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Confused by McBeth? Try Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. Huckleberry Finn? Read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.

Since most of you are probably it stage 5 or 6, I do hope you find this advice helpful. Feel free to comment if you know of any good book pairings.

Until next time, drink tea, read books, and fly on brave wings.

Rachael

 

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Finding Time Amidst the Chaos

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Hello beautiful people! This is Rachael. I will be posting every second week of the month. I love anything that is purple and sparkly but I am not afraid to get my hands dirty, literally and figuratively. I am an INFJ and used to nobody understanding my train of thought. I think I might be a mermaid as I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.  

While trying to decide on what to write on I realized I see a lot of people who kind of ask the general questions of “How do you find time to read or write when ______” You fill in the blank. Busy family life. College. Moving. Computer broke. Have no money (not sure if this hinders reading or writing but it sure sucks).

Well, I have said above busy life. I attend college out of my home state nine months out of the year. I have a part time job. Oh, and did I mention I am in my senior year? If anyone is busy, it’s me. Since I like to pass my classes (weird fetish, I know), I spend an obscene amount of hours working on stuff for class. This leaves very little time left over for reading or writing. Which makes me sad. Very sad.

But there is hope, my friends! Because I am proud to say, that despite college and my job, I still found time to read and write this past year. We will start with the reading.

The first thing that will help you read more is to set a goal. I set a goal at the beginning of 2016 to read 50 books. I managed to read 52. Now to be fair, about 20 of those books were for class. I am an English major and reading literature is quite common for class. However, I could have chosen not to stay up to all hours of the night reading and finishing those books (as many of my classmates chose to do) but I did.

How did I get the other 32 books read? Breaks. Fall break, Christmas break, spring break. And anytime during school when I wasn’t working on homework. Instead of floating around on Facebook and Pinterest, I read. I stole moments alone and I found a book and read. Even if it was just for ten minutes. This kept me grounded and connected to the literature world I would love to enter someday. Setting a goal that others can see, such as on a site like GoodReads, can really help motivate you to read more.

Side note– if you love reading and/or writing, you should get a GoodReads account. I love it. Its like Pinterest for readers. You will find books you never knew existed and fandoms when you thought you were all alone with your feelings.

Now about writing. I must admit I wasn’t as good at this. But it helped me a LOT to belong to a writing group on campus. We got together twice a month and workshopped each others writings. Talking with others who loved writing like I did really helped keep me connected to my own passion and thinking about what I wanted to do with my writing. I also used breaks to work on my WIP and other ideas that came my way.

Groups like Legion W are great, don’t get me wrong, but having actual people to write with and talk to about writing really boosted my creativity. It forced me to be honest and take feedback for my creations. I found out I was actually good a some forms of poetry, the one type of writing I despised the most. But I never would have tried it if it wasn’t a group activity. Find your tribe and work together to help each other.

Here are my top eight books (in no particular order) from those I read this past year in case you guys are interested. (You can see my complete list on GoodReads):

Winter by Marissa Meyer

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austend82ff801b05b020ee9ca295b357cdd71

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Tangerine by Edward Bloor

Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell

Starflower by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Feel free to comment below on ways you keep reading and writing in busy times or comment with your favorite book you read last year.

Until next time, drink tea, read books, and fly on brave wings.

Rachael