Like many other high school students around the world, this summer I have been
You can imagine how *excited* I was to learn that one of my reading assignments required a four to six page book review featuring the book's relations to themes of geography and personal connections. I was provided a short list of stories to choose from. I selected Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women, a nonfiction book by recognized journalist Geraldine Brooks highlighting Islamic feminism, her experiences reporting in Islamic countries, and the importance of interpretation and representation.
I'm not entirely sure what drove me to pick this book. Naturally, the title piqued my interest, and I recognized that I was uneducated in the subject. However, I could have easily selected a book that more closely fit my reading comfort zone. But, on a whim, I bought Nine Parts of Desire and began reading maybe a week later.
While I can say the book was an enlightening read that I learned much from, I can't say I "enjoyed" the activity itself; several of the beginning chapters quite literally made me lose my appetite. I felt myself grow angry and almost sporadically become happy as I read through the real, positive and negative experiences of diverse women. I am ultimately grateful that I read this book. Afterwards, I even felt accomplished for pushing myself to read a book outside my typical genres.
My transition from hesitant to appreciative and proud made me consider my personal views of required reading. Before even beginning this homework assignment, I was immediately overcome by feelings of disdain and stress. Unsurprisingly, I've approached previous required reading assignments in similar fashion: initial suspicion and later grudging admiration of the particular story or author, especially if the book happens to be nonfiction.
I'll be honest. I give required reading a bad rap.
|I know, what a shocker.|
This is not to say that I have loved every book I've faced through required reading. I've had my share of books I unwillingly dragged myself through simply to complete an assignment. Gradually, though, I'm striving to be more open minded towards these titles, particularly nonfiction.
For teen students like myself, I think selecting our own books for pleasure reading is crucial to encourage a lifetime of reading. Off the top of my head, I can name several young adult fiction novels I'd have schools add to their required reading lists. Simultaneously, though, exploring unfamiliar interests and topics is equally as important, and required reading offers an outlet to do this.
Approaching my next two required reads for the summer, A Separate Piece and To Kill a Mockingbird, I will try to set aside my own pre-reading assumptions about classics, chiefly while reading the latter.
While annotating, I may complain. While outlining, I may complain. While drafting my essay, I may complain.
But in defense of required reading, I'll strive to give the book a fair chance.