30 Day Writing Challenge, Day 8

8. A book you love and one you didn’t

I tell people all the time that I was the “world’s worst English major.” When you see those lists of the 100 books every adult should read go around Facebook, I routinely check off fewer than 20 of them. I was the kid who didn’t read To Kill a Mockingbird in high school. Catcher in the Rye and Slaughterhouse Five were extra credit assignments. I was even so bad about reading that I called my best friend to talk to him about The Handmaid’s Tale 3 months after we were supposed to read it for class. Did you know it was actually that good?!?!

I was a little more dilligent as a teacher. Some of our reading selections were fantastic, from The Kite Runner to The Color of Water, to Water for Elephants and In Cold Blood. But then there was Frankenstein and Ethan Frome. Blech.

Oddly enough, I had the opportunity to make a reference to Orwell’s 1984 on Twitter today. The guy I was talking to hasn’t read the book, and while I didn’t recommend it (because I hate it), I must have said enough about it to convince him that it was worth the read. And it is worthwhile. But I still hate it.

So…. book I love….book… I … l o v e . . .

Right now, I’d have to say Unattached Male by Anne Harding Woodworth. To be fair, it’s the first book I read just for myself in a long time. And it’s a poetry novella, so the fact that I’m currently on my 5th read-through makes me sound all educated and stuff when it’s quite easy to let the words roll through you. I had to wait about a month for it to arrive from Salzburg (yes– that Salzburg), but it was definitely worth the wait. Every single poem reminded me of college coursework fodder but referenced things that were so specific and relevant. I needed Google for something on every page. It was an opportunity to expand my horizons beyond suburbia and the hum-drum routines of life. I’m all about getting more from her catalog (36 years old and still with a Christmas list).

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Classic wordsmithing. Always current. Woodworth is my continuing education course. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/ThankYou?src=hash”>#ThankYou</a&gt; <a href=”https://t.co/ZcYIGxSYlu”>https://t.co/ZcYIGxSYlu</a></p>&mdash; Sylvana Cymballine (@WhiteZinWench) <a href=”https://twitter.com/WhiteZinWench/status/661601623245004800″>November 3, 2015</a></blockquote>

As for a book I hate… hmph. Anything by Dickens or Hemingway (although I really have been thinking of giving Papa another try). Most dystopian novels (Brave New World or the aforementioned 1984) get on my nerves– I can’t believe the human spirit gets crushed so completely at any point so that a totalitarian government can overtake the world. I want to demand more of the human spirit. I guess that’s why the book I hate most is Lord of the Flies. I mean– what an awful concept! Nasty brutish kids on an island, and is any part of it a surprise? Popular kids are gonna be popular; ostracized kids will be ostracized. It made me angry every time I had to read it. So there you have it: the best and worst books. For me. Right now.

But I have to say, this mom makes a pretty good case against Goodnight Moon. Here’s to the wordsmiths: may their words live on whether we like them or not.


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