Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Kit's Wilderness, or Why Must School Ruin Books?

Kit’s Wilderness by David Almond is a classic light vs. dark redemption story, and it’s good. But reading it is an absolute chore. Let me explain. For the Junior Cert English exam, you have to study a novel in class and be able to write about everything in it. The teacher chose one book and everyone had no choice but to study it in class.
It’s unfortunate that our study of this novel consisted of dissecting it until I could hardly bear to look at it. We were allowed to read about ten pages in class, one person at a time, aloud. Did they not trust us to read it quietly by ourselves, at a halfway decent speed – say one that isn’t a page every four minutes?
I would’ve enjoyed this so much more had it not been compulsory. I do realise that it was technically a very good book, and feel out of place giving it a lacklustre review after seeing so many enthusiastic ones – but you try to enjoy a book that you’re forced to take often irrelevant notes on every thirty seconds!
I read an awful lot. I review the best books I come across on this blog for a number of reasons. First of all, I am a writer at heart. I love words. Secondly, I like to share my opinions and hear yours. Finally, I think authors deserve to have their work shared, if they’ve brought me this much enjoyment. These reasons basically end up with me writing a lot and having trained my brain to think of notes about the book while reading, for reviews.
So being spoon-fed notes about books from my English teacher – nice as she is – drives me mad. It’s mind-numbingly boring, and I’m a book reviewer by trade. This – reading and writing – is where I find my enjoyment, and I am not happy that it’s being systematically destroyed.
We spent about six months reading that novel. I like to do the same thing and have the review planned out in less than six hours. It made me dread English, something that horrified me, since it’s my favourite subject. Being me, I’d already read the whole book the first week we got it, so I had to endure another twenty-three weeks of repetition. Not fun. Thankfully, we’ve moved on and it is once again my favourite class. But I don’t want it to happen again. Of course, I’m a teenager. My opinions don’t matter to the Board of Education; they would rather cater for the group in majority, the predictable horde of reality TV-and-little-else-watchers.
The truth is, it’s not the school or the Government’s fault. They’re doing their best with what they have to work with. It’s because of the amount of people who look at reading for pleasure with derision. Their apathy means that those of us who actually care just have to put up with it. It’s true, they don’t trust the majority of the class to read the book at home – and they’re right. They wouldn’t! I really don’t know what to do about this anymore. Help – when will people realise what they’re missing?
Also, I'm going to start posting a picture of my rough handwritten draft for each post, if you'd like, just for a change? It's usually all arty and decorative, but this one isn't really a review so it's not as much. I have a lovely one for my next review, so I'm looking forward to that.


  1. Ugh, I KNOW. I am so glad that I am done with the days of overanalyzing books in class. I will say that many books genuinely do merit some sort of discussion and analyzing and I think that can totally improve your experience of reading the book, rather than just reading it at surface value. HOWEVER. I always felt the same way about reading books in English class. We analyzed the books we read within an inch of their LIFE! Sooo tedious. Takes the fun right out of reading, definitely!

    On a more positive note, I love the image of your post draft! Umm, my drafts look nothing like that (if I even do them). It's usually just a few messy lines in point form so that I can remember the main points I want to talk about in my review. Love your writing!

  2. I see what you mean, and I often love discussIng them and analysing interesting bits. It would just be so much better to be able to do this from your own ideas instead of your teacher's!

    And thank you :)


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