“This can be a quick one. Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.
1. Night by Elie Wiesel
2. Native Son by Richard Wright
3. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
4. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (saddest, most tragic ending EVER)
5. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
6. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
7. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
8. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
9. 1984 by George Orwell
10. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
11. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
12. Forever by Judy Blume
13. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
14. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
15. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Question suggested by Barbara H:
My husband is not an avid reader, and he used to get very frustrated in college when teachers would insist discussing symbolism in a literary work when there didn’t seem to him to be any. He felt that writers often just wrote the story for the story’s sake and other people read symbolism into it.
It does seem like modern fiction just “tells the story” without much symbolism. Is symbolism an older literary device, like excessive description, that is not used much any more? Do you think there was as much symbolism as English teachers seemed to think? What are some examples of symbolism from your reading?
I think that an author’s use of literary devices, such as symbolism, is what separates literature from fiction.
This is the problem I have with a lot of YA literature, I don’t think it is truly literature. Don’t get me wrong, some definitely are. The Book Thief, definitely. Twilight, not so much. But hey, I read Confessions of a Shopaholic, so if you want to read a vampire book, go ahead. Just don’t call either “literature”.
Okay, but to get back to the question as hand. Excessive description? Do you mean imagery? Again, a device that is used for a purpose. Often imagery connects to symbolism. Look at The Great Gatsby. The imagery associated with Daisy Buchanan is symbolic. Everything is white, billowing, breezy, her laughter has a charm to it that draws men toward her, her voice is “full of money”. The green light at the end of Gatsby’s dock? Don’t even get me started on what that symbolizes. In The Catcher in the Rye you have a main character who wants everything to same the same, he wants to preserve the innocence of all the children everywhere. Is it a coincidence that his favorite place to go is the museum where nothing ever changes? Is it a coincidence that he wrote his history essay on mummies? I don’t think so. This my dear friends, is symbolism.
So, to answer your question. No, I don’t think there is as much symbolism as English teachers think there is. I THINK THERE”S MORE!!!
Suggested by Janet:
How about, “What’s the worst ‘best’ book you’ve ever read — the one everyone says is so great, but you can’t figure out why?”
I have two answers for this one and both were read in college. One is Moby Dick. While I appreciate the themes of this book, I did not appreciate reading this one in any way, shape or form. The other one is Clarissa by Samuel Richardson. Holy Cow! This book was as big as a Norton Anthology, with those tissue thin pages and it was written all in letters. If I remember correctly, the first 500 or so pages lead up to the rape of Clarissa and then the following 500 pages show the aftermath of a woman whose virtue is forever tainted. That book was painful to both carry to class every day and to read.
What book do you think should be made into a movie? And do you have any suggestions for the producers?
Or, What book do you think should NEVER be made into a movie?
Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!
My students always ask me if The Catcher in the Rye has been made into a movie. Lord, I hope nobody every attempts that one. The beauty of that book is Holden’s stream of consciousness, you can’t capture that in a movie. It would be a travesty if somebody did so.
As far as what book should become a movie, I am unsure….. I think if they combined the plots of Uglies, Pretties and Specials they could probably make a pretty cool movie. That is one I would like to see done because there could be so many cool special effects. I also think it would be successful as a movie and might get more people to check out the books.
We’ve all seen the lists, we’ve all thought, “I should really read that someday,” but for all of us, there are still books on “The List” that we haven’t actually gotten around to reading. Even though we know they’re fabulous. Even though we know that we’ll like them. Or that we’ll learn from them. Or just that they’re supposed to be worthy. We just … haven’t gotten around to them yet.
What’s the best book that YOU haven’t read yet?
For a long time, the answer to this question was Crime and Punishment, but I did finally tackle that one last year with a group of my AP seniors. Those Russian authors, though, they are my nemesis. Every summer I tell myself, “This will be the summer I read Anna Karenina,” and every summer I get about 100 pages into it before I abandon it. I know I SHOULD read this one, everyone who has read it (and that’s not a whole lot of people, mind you) tells me how much they loved it, hell, even Oprah used it for her book club, but I just can’t get through it. Who knows…. maybe this summer.