A publication of the Department of English & Philosophy at Drexel University

I don’t want to read that

I’m probably the world’s worst English major. I don’t really enjoy reading the stories that I’ve been assigned, no matter how great of a story, or the educational benefit that they’ll provide. This week, I’ve been reading Ken Kesey’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” for a literature class. I’m only a few chapters into it, the writing is unique, the characters are interesting, and I know the story is going to keep getting better. The only problem is that I find myself not wanting to pick it up again, specifically because I’ve been told to read it and I’m being graded on my knowledge of it’s contents.

I’m not sure what it is about being told to read something that completely takes away the value of the book. There are plenty of amazing works ranging from short stories such as Herman Melville’s “Bartleby, The Scrivener”, to epic poems such as “Paradise Lost” by John Milton. And I have no desire to read on the pure basis that I’ve been told to. Strangely, if a friend had recommended either of these–not a teacher of professor–I wouldn’t have been able to put them down at all.

Professors do this thing where they proclaim the greatness of a book, and I get discouraged when I don’t get the same response. Often  the hidden meaning, and metaphors within the sentences makes a book great. I prefer a straight-foward approach. I read books to provide entertainment, I like escaping the world and involving myself in a story for a few days.

I know the purpose of my major is to analyze literature and discuss what makes a book great, and how it can stand the test of the ages. I just have a hard time finding these same books enjoyable because instead of being able to immerse myself in the story, I need to analyze every sentence for meaning.

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