A Literature Nut


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I recently came across this Cincinnati Library link that listed numerous books and novels generally referred to as The Classics, and I was pleased to see Mark Twain at the top of the page.

The book list really jogged my memory banks, and I actually mentally re-lived portions of my childhood through the recollections of those famous works of literature. I have read them all, some numerous times. I do recognize that reading is not everyone’s thing, but I could not imagine my life without having experienced the knowledge contained therein.

I used to tell my college students they should not consider themselves as graduates unless they have read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. They carried the novel down the aisle at graduation to prove their knowledge base to me.

I realize humanity has traveled a long way between Beowulf and For Whom the Bell Tolls, but I wonder if modern vampire books are literature at all.

Literature contains the sum total of human knowledge compiled over several millennia. We greatly enhance our existences when we read. Why are our children more hell-bent on biting their friends on the necks?
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Comments

  1. I think one big problem is that in the past few decades it has been demonstrated that watching TV, video games, and cell phones are the most fascinating thing to spend one's time doing. So along comes a book about vampires and youth are suddenly reading again (and parents are applauding because at least their child isn't glued to a screen while they are reading a book). I do think that reading a book about vampires is a step in the right direction. If someone starts to like reading then I feel they would start to be open to the wisdom found in "the classics." That's the trick at first though, to pull them away from the screen long enough to learn that reading (and the rest of life in general) is really great. Can you tell I hate TV, video games, and cell phones? I personaly would much rather read a book :),
    Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

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  2. Miriam: Yes, I can tell you hate TV, etc. So do I! I hope you are right about the vampires. I guess reading anything is better than nothing.

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  3. As far as vampire books I am guessing u mean "Twilight" series? I remember when it came out.. I was w/my oldest and a woman recommended it.. My oldest (20 something yr. old) couldn't go past the first chapter. She said it was 'the worst written' book she read... The writing was horrible.. this is a kid who read the classics but nowadays w/the 'quality' education kids are getting they would feel books like Twilight are literature... Sad commentary on the youth as well as education... BTW,I haven't watched as much tv as I use too... Been consumed w/the documentaries on Netflix..Now that is what I find more interesting than the lousy sitcoms.

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  4. KBF: Twilight is definitely one of them. I recently read The Hunger Games. Many people love that book. However, it is poorly written. It is written in the first person, present tense, like the kids today speak and write, and occasionally it jumps into the past or future tenses. I had trouble getting through it. The kids thought it was great. I guess they're reading something, and that is good. I am with you on documentaries.

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  5. @JJ: I guess some reading is better than none??? Steinbeck, Hemingway, Uris, Michener does it for me...

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  6. KBF: Well, yeah. But now you are talking about literature. In our high schools, those are called old books without contemporary relevance.

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  7. @JJ: ok, maybe not direct relevance, indirect? those authors all deal w/human nature, it may not be so apparent but its there, just have to read between the lines (so to speak)... :-)

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  8. KBF: There is no other way to say it except that they are not learning how to read.

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  9. Heck you got me! I don't understand the fascination with the whole vampire hype. When I was a child I sat on the floor in front of my mother's recliner and watching Dracula. I was so scared I wiggled a tooth completely out of my mouth. I had nightmares for a week afterwards too.

    Reading has always been an outlet for me. One that transforms me into a different character each time. And one that takes me to places I have never been to. Reading was something I introduced to my daughter at a very young age and she has done the same with my grandchildren. All are voracious readers with their own Library cards. I don't own an electronic reader, I prefer to feel and smell a good old book in my hand.

    I have read Twain as a child and loved his stories. I should probably reread his works again. ~Ames

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  10. In all fairness to the schools, reading starts at home... When each of my kids were able to sit still for at least 15 min. my husband would read a story to them at bed time.. The girls had patience and loved hearing a story.. My son, would listen for 10 min. and lose interest... My girls are avid readers today, my son- only reads what HE is interested in...Unless parents show an interest in reading as well as teaching their kids to read, there will be that generation that fails to learn to read... I had heard that ( years ago) that the avg. college student couldn't even read h.s. level, to me that is sad and definitely will handicap them in the future.

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  11. KBF: It is even worse now. The reading and writing abilities of college students has drastically declined over the last ten years.

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  12. @JJ: omg...When my middle one was in college ( 8 some odd years ago) it was reported what i posted above... this is really sad! i just don't get it...

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  13. This situation is identical in all countries, I guess. Writing abilities of graduated people are worse than ever and I also agree that a big part of it is due to lack of reading (good books).

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  14. My kids are not readers, much to my amazement and disappointment. Well, that's not entirely true. My foster son Dan, who is the most challenged of the bunch in terms of communication, is a voracious reader. He doesn't read fiction, but he loves history. Anyway, I'm hoping my grandson will love books. I'll do my part.

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  15. Checking in while out on the road and very pleased to see you blogging about Mark Twain.
    My husband did half of his college work on Mark Twain's stuff and we love visiting places and finding out that Twain is connected in some way.

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  16. JJ, et al, for a wonderful, neck-biting story, written in the classic style that I adore so much, please read "The Historian" by Elizabeth Kostova. She also wrote "The Swan Thieves."

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  17. I find that discussions about young people and books can be fascinating and frustrating. I think some of it comes to, what are their parents reading? I was lucky. I grew up in a home of readers. All of my siblings are readers and we read all kinds of books - summer fluff to literature to biographies to... I was also lucky that in 7th grade my dad was paying attention to what I read. All my friends were reading a series called "Sweet Valley High" and my father insisted that such nonsense was not allowed in my house and we were to read classics. I read Tolkien that year.
    Interestingly, my husband was raised by two teachers and hates to read. He only reads for work and only when absolutely necessary. His family watches a lot of TV and when they read it is a lot of fluff.
    So my kids have all the distractions of modern technology, but they have reading time and they read a good variety. They have read "The Hunger Games" they have also read "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. My oldest had the luck to have a wonderful and demanding 6th grade English teacher, he taught grammar (they don't do that anymore!) and had them reading "The Jungle Book" "Alice in Wonderland" "Killer Angles" and "Tom Sawyer" amongst others. I think, like most things, it is about in home influence and maybe an amazing English Lit teacher along the way.

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  18. Fanático_Um: It is sad to hear. I would have thought the Europeans had better luck preserving the art of reading good literature.

    Galen: We all must do our part, or we are cheating our kids.

    'Yellow Rose' Jasmine: When Hemingway accepted his Nobel Prize for Literature, he commented that it should have been given to Mark Twain.

    Judie: Will do!

    CailinMarie: Consider yourself lucky - and a good mom!

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