You Know All Those Books You Are “Supposed” To Read?

You know the ones. The books they assign you in school. The ones that people assume everyone smart around them have read and are embarrassed to admit they’ve never picked up, or, even worse, that they’ve tried to read and just couldn’t stomach. Books like “War and Peace,” “Moby Dick,” or “Pride and Prejudice.” Well, it’s confession time: I’ve only read one of those. Can you guess which one?

Most people I talk to seem to assume that all of us library folks have read these classics, and it’s hard for us to admit we haven’t. The truth is, we’re just normal people who like the same fun literature as everyone else. Me? I’m pretty much a YA fantasy/sci-fi junkie, with a bit of mystery and historical fiction thrown in for good measure. Have I read some of the classics? Sure, I have. But they aren’t what I pick up for a relaxing evening after work. Check out my Goodreads page if you don’t believe me!

Despite all this, there is something to be said for reading the classics, and I’ve often wished I was willing to make the time for them. And it looks like that time has come. I’ve already been making progress on reading kids’ classics, since hubby and I are reading one together each month (Post coming on that one…), and now it looks like I’ll be jumping firmly into the adult classic realm.

You see, my oldest homeschool student is officially thirteen now, and we have come to the realization that it’s time for her to start reading some of the unabridged classics. She can still read Warrior Cats, of course, but she also needs to step it up as she gets ready to head into her high school years. Because I want her to be invested in the process, I let her pick where to start. We looked through piles of the classics, discussed the pros and cons, and narrowed it down to three. What were her top picks? Interestingly, they were Seven Novels Complete and Unabridged by Jules Verne, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream from The Oxford Shakespeare: The Complete Works. Not what I would have picked, but it just goes to show that you should never try to guess what might interest the kiddos!

After much deliberation, she finally settled on Jules Verne. Then came the hard part for me. I had to admit to her that I had never read anything by him, so I was going to need a week to get in a little of the reading so we could discuss it. Because it’s a whopper of a book! Almost twelve hundred pages!

This is going to be an interesting challenge for her. The vocabulary and language style is a good deal more complex than anything she’s attempted before. Let’s be honest, I haven’t read elevated language like this in a while, either, so getting back in the flow is going to take a few chapters! Please tell me I’m not alone in this! Am I the only one who doesn’t use “physiognomy” in everyday conversation? lol

I’m coming to the realization that homeschooling a high schooler really is quite different from working with the younger ones. It becomes more and more likely that she’s going to want to learn things I don’t actually know. I’m going to have to admit this and hope I’ve trained her well enough that she’ll be able to find the knowledge elsewhere. Instead of a teacher, I’m becoming a guide, and this is turning out to be a scary thing. But it’ll be okay. I have faith in her and in the woman she is becoming. And, in the meantime, I get to finally make progress on some of these classics. Maybe I’ll get lucky and she’ll pick “Anna Karenena” next. I’ve always wanted to give that one a try!


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