Reading Sucks

This may come as a surprise to many of you, but once upon a time I used to like reading. It’s true. Seriously. I’m not kidding. It was as recently as the eighth grade. For one particular assignment, my English teacher required us to read any 200+ page book of our choosing that was set during World War II. I got to the library 10 minutes before closing time and had to settle for the first book I could find with a swastika on the cover.

My teacher was shocked when I presented it to her for approval.

Teacher: Are you sure you want to read this?

Baka-Raptor: Is there a problem?

Teacher: It’s 656 pages long!

Baka-Raptor: Indeed, it meets the requirement of 200 pages.

Teacher: Wouldn’t you rather read something shorter?

Baka-Raptor: But then I’d have to go all the way back to the library and find something new.

Teacher: What the hell is wrong with you?

Baka-Raptor: It’s just a book, I’ll be fine.

I read the book like it was nothing. I even recall enjoying it. It’s a feeling I haven’t experienced in the 11 years since.

High school began a few months later. This is when I was first exposed to depth, and it ruined reading for me. My English teachers would yell at me whenever I plowed straight through an assigned reading. They wanted me to pause at every background object described in the book and pretend it was a symbol for life/change/growth/sex/whatever else a high school student could be expected to pull out of his ass. They wanted to me to read with a paranoia that some cryptic message capable of unlocking the secrets of the universe was hidden within every seemingly innocent turn of phrase. It was absolutely idiotic. Forgive me for having a bullshit detector, but contrary to what most English teachers will tell you, there is such a thing as a wrong answer. Most of the crap I was hearing in class discussions couldn’t possibly be right, and even if by some odd coincidence somebody nailed the exact meaning the author intended to give a phrase, who gives a shit?

I don’t care if some flower in the third paragraph of page 113 is a symbol of hope. I certainly don’t want to adopt a deliberate, tedious reading style to make those kinds of unverifiable theories seem slightly less nonsensical. Instead of pausing after every punctuation mark to overanalyze the phrase I just read, I WANT TO MOVE ON WITH THE STORY. Is that asking too much? If you cockblock my plot, how am I supposed to have fun reading?

I could write for days about how depth is a sham, how it’s a perverse, elitist game gone too far, how it siphons creativity and effort away from more important dimensions of a story, etc., but that’s for another post.* Depth in and of itself isn’t the reason I hate reading. I still hate reading stuff that isn’t all that deep, and it’s easy enough to ignore depth in other forms of media. My problem with depth is that teachers corrupted my reading style by forcing me to look for it.

My 10th grade teacher was the worst. My brother insisted that I transfer into his class because he was supposedly brilliant. He was actually a smug asshole whose sole pleasure in life was showboating his mastery of the curriculum he’d been teaching for 30 years. Next time I see my brother, I’m going to punch him in the back of the head.

This guy wanted to see handwritten notes in the margins of whatever you were reading. If your margins weren’t filled with “copious and utile” notes, that being his exact pretentious catch phrase, you were a failure. If you didn’t meet with him outside of class for “voluntary” review sessions, you were a failure. I met with him only twice, and I walked out on him the second time. He especially looked down on you if you never volunteered in class discussions. About half the students caught onto his bullshit and quit raising their hands by the third quarter, but I was the only one in the class who never raised his hand once during the entire year. I rule. He called on me three times. I gave him the laziest answers ever. He refused to recommend me for AP English. I whined my way through school administration, got into the class, and got a 5 on the test. I wish I could call that a happy ending. Unfortunately, this was the class that officially made me hate reading. Great Expectations was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I couldn’t tolerate the stop & chop reading style any more. If reading was going to suck this much, I was just going to stop reading. My best friend for the rest of high school was SparkNotes.

tl;dr: Less than two years after voluntarily going 456 pages over the limit, I quit reading altogether.

I still haven’t been able to untrain myself from the stop & chop reading style. Until I do, reading will continue to suck. Luckily, stop & chop only affects the sorts of readings I was assigned in English classes: novels, short stories, poems, and plays. I’ve attempted to rehab with a few novels and light novels since high school, but I’ve had to push myself pretty hard to get through each one:

The only true success I’ve had with anything novel-like since high school was the Fate/Stay Night visual novel.* I guess the presentation was so different from a typical novel that I was able to read at my natural pace.

I mainly wrote this post because the rant was getting too long to include in my post about the value of plot.* However, I’d also like to dedicate this post to those of you who are English teachers or aspire to be English teachers. Don’t make your students hate reading.

*posts forthcoming

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  1. Ryan A says:

    No, why? ;-; First, I think you need to find stuff you enjoy reading, regardless of what it is (try magazines/periodicals or something as well)… reading more often increases skill and comprehension, and both will make reading more enjoyable. Uh, personal advice, stay away from extensive reading of technical documents such as published scientific papers/journals, because I don’t think they help reading at all.w

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      stay away from extensive reading of technical documents such as published scientific papers/journals

      Too late, I’m a patent attorney.

      Skill and comprehension aren’t my problems. I’m not saying I’m perfect in those areas, but I have trouble getting through fiction even when it’s easy it is to comprehend. It’s a stamina problem more than anything else.

  2. chikorita157 says:

    It’s a true fact that not many people really read books… I am one of those people that don’t really like reading books except when I have to (when I have to study for tests)…

    Visual Novels are a different story because you have pretty pictures, music and you don’t have to read more than 5 sentences on the screen. This is probably why people find those more enjoyable than picking up a 500+ page story book.

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      Five sentences on screen + auto-read can add up to a lot over time. I got through 66 hours of Fate/Stay Night in about a month. 2 hours of pleasure reading a day is a miracle considering I typically can’t read ten consecutive print pages for fun without taking a break.

  3. I think the book that did it in for me is the commonly-reviled Scarlet Letter. I mean, zomgspoilers but “THE PRIEST DID IT” has got to be the dumbest reveal ever. Who cares? Move on with life. Same can be said for Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. That was the book that I had to read pages over and over because I either couldn’t parse what the heck he was saying or I fell asleep after every other sentence.

    Hating “classic lit” which extends to hating reading altogether is probably the biggest crime English teachers have inflicted upon the high school populace.

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      If 10th grade hadn’t already broken me, The Scarlet Letter (11th grade) or Heart of Darkness (12th grade) surely would’ve. Didn’t read either, didn’t care. I’m not sure what’s more painful: getting force-fed classic novels or sitting through their atrocious movie adaptations.

  4. Shadowblade Edge says:

    And this is why I thank God that I was barely conscious through high school English. I mean I was so pro that I can’t recall writing an essay, or the accompanying bullshit mining, during that entire time. I read all the books, plays, ect. mind you, and even enjoyed some of them. As an aside the American education system is some kinda bullshit, ’cause even doing that, and then some, I still got out of high school on the first go.

  5. LOL the problem with such teachers is how they insist that such things are objectively there in the text, among many other problems.

  6. mrwan says:

    For certain works it gets really difficult to use that ‘stop and chop’ reading style as well, such as the Shakespeare plays, or On The Road, which is suppose to be ‘long streams of consciousness’. Yet teachers forces the students to break them down into pieces so small you don’t even get the big picture anymore.

    That said, there are some very good works out there waiting to be read. Hope you can recapture your joy for reading sooner than later.

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      I was usually cool with Shakespeare. Gotta respect his wit. Plus we almost always read him out loud in class, so I didn’t have to suffer through reading on my own time. I was usually handed a major role because of my dramatic voice and lack of voluntary class participation. I was Othello and Hamlet during my senior year. Forced me to stay awake during class. Get thee to a nunnery.

  7. Your English teacher reminded me of my Filipino (local language) teacher….. all the right answers to her about the symbolisms of the stuff in our country’s classic novel are HER OPINIONS! Jeez, I am soooo tempted to be sarcastic with her if only she doesn’t have the power of changing my grades =_=

    Fortunately I have read the novel before I attended the class where it was “studied it depth” with her as the teacher. I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate it. T_T Or else I might’ve ended up hating the novel no thanks to her T_T

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      T_T indeed. Some lit teachers are on power trips. It’s a fact of life. They’ve been teaching the course for years, they know the books better than you do, and if you disagree with them, even if you have a good argument, they can beat you down with brute force. My 10th grade teacher really did make intellectual bullying threats like that to some students who dared question his views. What a jackass. The world’s a better place now that he’s retired.

  8. kluxorious says:

    This post reminds me how I used to love reading too. I don’t especially hate it now but finishing a book has become a chore and I often feel like I’m better off writing my own story or watch some anime. The last book I completed was back in February. That book took 2 years for me to finish. I used to completed 1000++ pages in one night >_>

    The books in my mini library are collecting dust atm and their places on the shelves are being replace with manga and anime DVD.

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      It’s funny how writing has become easier than reading. Imagine if talking were easier than listening. Oh wait…

      I don’t buy books unless I’m 100% sure I’m going to read them. The only time I’m 100% sure I’m going to read is when I’m on a plane. I have no plans to fly anywhere for a while, so I won’t be buying another book for a long time.

  9. Captain Guest says:

    I’m actually thinking about starting a rehab group for people that hated high school English. “This story, is just a story. I will enjoy this without thinking about Freud for the next 40 minutes.”

    • Captain Guest says:

      I will say that my senior year English class wasn’t too bad and almost got me back to reading, because we discussed more on plot, characters, and cultural context (oh those naughty Elizabethans), in a manner not unlike this blog, as opposed to pondering the meaning of life.

      • Baka-Raptor says:

        Judging by the sheer number of comments, I’m guessing your rehab group would fill up in minutes. High school English classes traumatized pretty much everyone who didn’t go on to become a liberal arts major. Artsy types love that “cerebral” crap; logical types can’t stomach it.

  10. Marigold Ran says:

    Why did you even pay attention in the first place in high school English class?

  11. Valence says:

    Reading and Literature in High School serves to teach us that the amount of bullshit you are able to spew out is directly proportional to the amount of success you will attain in life.

  12. kimaguresan says:

    I remember English class, especially senior year in high school. The teacher was all about what depth there was in what we were reading. Never saw it, didn’t care, skated through that class. That lady had problems though, she called our textbook “Big Purple.” What depth there was in that name, was only explained by the snickering from my perverted friend behind me.

    I’ve lamented how people don’t need to read anymore, what with all the media shoved down our throats, but I guess I can’t blame them anymore. I lament, but I do nothing about it. I should resolve to read more, but oooh shiny…

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      When I think purple and textbooks, I think of the supplemental blurbs in history textbooks that are boxed off from the main text, usually in a purple background or some other color. Never read the purple stuff. Waste of time.

      It’s a fact of life that people these days don’t need to read for fun they way they did before internet, video games, TV, radio, etc. I lament nothing. It’s progress. The notion that we’re somehow worse off as a society because we read less for fun is romantic hogwash.

  13. Taka says:

    yeah. I loved reading up until about 8th grade. Tom Sawyer is what killed it for me. I read all the classics during 10th grade lit and then did AP Eng for 11th and 12th. I never really adopted a stop and chop method of reading. I became a big fan of sparknotes as well. It’s sad because I would love to have read the novels on my own time. They sounded truly interesting. I didn’t do particularly well in the classes. Passing but not great.

    Fast forward 6 years. I’m taking a literature class at a Community College. Holy crap was the Iliad always this readable? Antigone is suddenly interesting. Ha the bible is pretty funny. Except Job, screw Job. I’ve also started back reading for leisure. It’s pretty cool. I don’t lose myself into the worlds as much as I did as a kid when you had to shake me to get me to stop reading but I still have been enjoying a lot of novels lately. I’d say i’ve read probably thirty 400+ page books in the past 6 months. Granted it’s mostly sci-fi and fantasy but at least it’s award winning (or should be award winning) sci-fi and fantasy.

    And once again, it feels good. I’ve actually been enjoying the books moreso than (gasp) watching anime. Maybe I just needed a break.

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      I used to look down on people who used SparkNotes. You can only have a limited picture of the original work from reading summaries, and with all the elements of the story split into different parts of a SparkNotes outline, in some ways you need to try a lot harder to pull it all together. Why not just read it the right way? Funny how quickly that opinion changed…

      Sci-fi or fantasy is my best bet for a book that won’t make me hate reading. It worked for the Fate/Stay Night visual novel. I really gotta write that review…

  14. jcpenguin says:

    Have you ever noticed that LeVar Burton hosted Reading Rainbow and played Geordi La Forge? One role involved reading and one involved a loss of vision…

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      He was just acting blind, and maybe he was acting like he was reading. I’m certainly not acting blind, though in class I certainly was acting like I was reading. I deserved an Oscar.

  15. TJ says:

    I never liked the readings in English class (especially hated Catcher in the Rye), but then again I never really liked English class in general. English class have the tendency to make reading into a chore where it supposedly should be enjoyable and possibly enlightening. Reading on my own for entertainment and to pass the time is still okay though.

  16. lonny says:

    I remember taking English in grade 9, Our class would read 4 chapters a week and be done the book in a month or so.Day 1 would involve random students each reading one page. The agony of listening to half of them stumble, stutter, mispronounce was bad enough but the time it took them to read the page is what wanted me to shoot myself in the head. By the weekend of week one i was done the book and then had to sit zombielike for the next three weeks till we were on the next novel. The reading would be interupted periodically by our teacher telling us how dumb we were for missing the symbolism/events that happened between the lines-Yes we all knew the only reason she knew any of that was because the teachers handbook TOLD HER SO. I never disliked reading beforehand but god did it become a boring dreaded class throughout highschool for me; thank god there were trees, squirrels and passing trafic outside my window to help pass the weeks. I got in trouble for not following along and ended up with so-so marks because she assumed i didnt care.
    While i believe there are many good books/novels with important themes and symbolism that increase the enjoyment of a read, it is the story and information within that matters most. The enjoyment of whats going to happen next-the interesting fact or historical story is what has always kept me reading. I know i wasnt the only one who felt that way. Sorry for being so long:)
    By the way what did you think of Spice and Wolf?

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      If you think that’s bad, my 7th grade social studies teacher made us read newspaper articles out loud student by student, sentence by sentence. Yeah, you heard me right. Student A reads Sentence 1. Then Student B reads Sentence 2. It was every bit the disaster you’d expect.

      I’ll cover this in my post about plot: depth can be valuable, but it’s secondary to the story. If you have a crappy story, nobody’s going to care about depth. If you force students to search for depth in a manner that doesn’t let them enjoy the story, they’ll hate reading.

      I’ll write a full review of Spice and Wolf once I watch the second season. So far I’ve read the first volume and watched the first season. It’s the best of the three light novels I’ve read so far. Strawberry Panic is simple yuri smut, and Haruhi got off to a slow start. Spice and Wolf is pretty strong overall. More to come in…let’s say 6-8 months.

      • Shinmaru says:

        “… depth can be valuable, but it’s secondary to the story. If you have a crappy story, nobody’s going to care about depth. If you force students to search for depth in a manner that doesn’t let them enjoy the story, they’ll hate reading.”

        Even though I am an admitted analysis lover (and huge loser :p), I agree with this 100 percent. If depth IS the story, then it’s a crappy story, period.

  17. mefloraine says:

    That’s why you read for fun along with the books for school. It satisfies the drive for story and rests your brain from having to search for symbolism all the time.
    That has always been my tactic, anyway.

    I had an English teacher who was a know-it-all and thought that annotations = reading, last year. But he was too forgetful to check that we annotated, and he really did know so much that I just couldn’t dislike him, his teaching, or the books we read.

    Different strokes.

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      That’s fine, as long as you don’t confuse knowledge with intelligence like my brother did. I’m sure “he really did know so much”—about those particular books—because he’d taught those books five periods a day for his entire career. Remember, teachers aren’t smarter than you. They know a lot more (hopefully), but they’re still human.

  18. Fai D Fluorite says:

    ROFL!!
    I couldnt agree more with this post 🙂

    Well your updates are little slow I guess.
    The previous one was also a non-anime one!
    Waiting for the * posts forthcoming 🙂

  19. Miken says:

    It seems every time I have a falling out with actually reading books I make a trip back to China and finish 5 in quick succession out of a desire to have some contact with the English language. I finally got to get into the Lord of the Rings too.

    English class was enjoyable for the most part for me though I bullshitted my way through all the essays. I liked that I could choose a semester English class Senior year that complimented the somewhat dull obligatory British Literature class. I could check the list of novels we were going to read and choose my poison appropriately. I have to say that Multicultural Voices class was by far the most fun I had in English since my 8th grade teacher acted out half of the Battle of Gettysburg while explaining what all the military mumbo jumbo in The Killer Angels meant. It helped that my teacher Senior Year just told us to read large portions and didn’t really try to force the symbolism. Or rather, she didn’t really mind if you saw anything in the story or just kinda read it for the plot. Though I remember Moby Dick nearly ruining reading for me. That thing was a horrible read and the teacher that year was far too stressful on the symbolism of that painfully dull book.

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      Same thing used to happen to me. When my parents dragged me to India for vacations when I was younger, I’d always read a lot because India sucks and there’s nothing else to do. I haven’t been back in a while, and apparently not much has changed.

      Moby Dick is the biggest ripoff in the history of literature. Granted, I read in on my own in the 5th grade, so a lot of it may have have gone over my head, but that doesn’t change the fact that Moby Dick didn’t show up until the end. I was expecting this epic, manly whale hunt, but all I got was a bunch of sailors screwing around. What would Godzilla be like if Godzilla didn’t show up until the end? Could Mary Shelley get away with Frankenstein not showing up until the end? Why does Moby Dick get a free pass? Total ripoff.

      Teachers who are willing to act/do voices/whatever else helps bring the material the life are the best.

  20. Kabitzin says:

    If only they had called it Realistic Expectations and printed it as white text on black background, maybe we wouldn’t have come to this.

  21. Owen S says:

    http://www.haikasoru.com/

    The Stories of Ibis/Yukikaze/Brave Story are pretty good reads.

  22. steelbound says:

    I remember when I had to read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in H.S. English. I pointed out to the teacher that Mark Twain himself inserted a notice at the beginning of the book that said “PERSONS attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot” so why did we have to analyze the book to pieces? Her reply – a 30 minute lecture about the hidden meaning behind this notice and how it’s meant to get us to analyze the book.

    I was too much of reader – I read Lord of the Rings in 4th grade and was tearing through those 800 page Tom Clancy novels like nothing by fifth grade – to let English teachers kill my love of reading. They tried, oh, did they try. They were partially successful with “classical literature”; I’m hesitant about picking up any book that’s older then about 125 years.

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      That’s disturbing. Exactly what would I have to put at the beginning of my book to keep future generations from overanalyzing it? Reverse psychology? “Please, overanalyze this really deep book. Nothing is what it seems. The emperor has beautiful new clothes.”

      I’m hesistant about picking up any book that’s on SparkNotes. For example, I’ve always wanted to read To Kill a Mockingbird, but it’s on SparkNotes. That means it’s the kind of book that gets overanalyzed in English classes. Fuck that.

  23. Coaxen says:

    There was a quote: “I enjoy reading a good book. But I hate literature.”

  24. digital boy says:

    Never had this problem, because I never did what I was told in English class. I read all the books within a week of getting them and BSed all the assignments based on vague memories and shit I made up. Still made good grades in Engligh. God I kick ass.

    That said, in my senior year, we never had to read a single novel. My teacher said ‘no one will read it anyway, so who cares.’

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      Don’t do what your English teacher says –> still like reading when you graduate
      Do what your English teacher says –> hate reading when you graduate

      Now you even write novels. I will never write a novel, ever, guaranteed. I could see myself writing a humor book, an autobiography, or even a self-help book, but never a novel.

  25. Scamp says:

    I’d actually quite like to argue why depth is important, but since that’s going to be another post I’ll leave that aside for now.

    I liked English class in school. I liked dissecting stories, providing the actual story was good. The more I thought about his work, the better Shakespeare got. I think it’s a nerdy thing that people prefer plot and rules in the created world to depth, all of which was probably brought on by English class.

    Then again, I’ve all but stopped reading books. I’ve taken what I did in English class to anime and movies now. I should have done a film degree goddamit =(

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      At my current pace, the depth post won’t come around for another two years. In the meantime, I have plenty of reviews of mediocre anime planned. Enjoy the wait.

      Plot is my #1 priority in anime, no question. This post will one of my next four, guaranteed.

  26. Hana says:

    Eurgh, I never try that ‘there’s no such thing as a wrong answer’ kinda crap with my students. If there’s no solid textual evidence to support their point, then they bloody well need to think of a new point.

    I don’t agree with your suggestion that appreciating layers of meaning kills the enjoyment of reading, as I’d say it enhances it; the idea that there are even more interesting possibilities uncoiling beneath the surface and which might colour my perception of the characters and events in different ways and thus affect the overall impact of the story.

    However, I sympathise with your annoyance with ‘reading against the grain’ and the encouraging of excessive hunting for such layers of meaning just for the sake of it. For example, I remember loving my first reading of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, only to swiftly end up hating it because one of my A Level English teachers at the time made us do overly-long presentations on global warming and fertility and economics and all sorts of other random meta issues that are only touched on in the novel, which is more about the relationships and inner dramas of the characters and how they deal with these in their horrifying immediate surroundings. In contrast, our other English teacher encouraged more independent thinking and was one of the few school teachers who actually prepared me for Uni and the real world, as opposed to force-feeding us prescriptive answers that may help us pass the exam, but would be of little benefit afterwards. Incidentally, teacher no. 1 soon quit the profession and she became a strategist (*scoff*) for the NLS (a particularly bureaucratic and irrelevant government education thingy), whereas teacher no. 2 has more than his fair share of grey hairs and is still going strong.

    Re: your dedication: I’ll try not to, but I’m fairly confident that they’ll be alright. If they’re engaged to begin with, or at least open to the idea that the stuff we read is interesting and of merit, then it’s just a case of drawing on that natural eagerness by making the learning interactive and relevant to their individual needs and interests. Which might sound like a whole load of teacher-training bullshit, but it never ceases to leave me gobsmacked how much of a difference the odd passing reference to student X’s favourite genre of music or to student Y’s favourite football team logo might make to how well they might understand and appreciate the features of certain genres, or the significance of certain types of imagery… Not that I’ve been doing all this for very long, but I’d say in short: passion, sensitivity and good listening skills go a long way, whereas that old English teacher of yours needs to be shot.

    Oh, and stop reading generic crappy teen chick lit!

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      Sign me up for your class.

      Sure, depth doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but English classes made it one. Sure, if it’s supported by the text, and sure, if there’s a good story to go along with it, sure, it can make reading a better experience. Sure. Like that’ll ever happen in a high school English class. English teachers don’t care about textual support. That’s superficial. English teachers don’t care if you like what you’re reading. That’s superficial. Pulling shit out of thin air, now that’s DEEP.

      Trust me, I’ll never read generic crappy teen lit again, unless I’m given a book deal to write it.

      • Hana says:

        You are overqualified for my class. Plus, you’d intimidate the other students. In short, NO. You can come to the enrichment class if you want, though (stop laughing); it’s all one big love-in. And you’d get chocolate.

        English teachers don’t care about textual support. That’s superficial. English teachers don’t care if you like what you’re reading. That’s superficial. Pulling shit out of thin air, now that’s DEEP.

        Yes and no: not sure about the US grading system, but you can’t even get a C without using the text to support your points; however, you do need to show originality of analysis to get the As and A-stars. Let’s just agree to disagree, eh.

        I think you should write one anyway. Not only would it be fun to read, but it’s clearly how you make the big bucks and become (in)famous. The again, you’re gonna be a fancy pants lawyer who can probably bill people for every time you sneeze, so meh.

  27. tohno-kun says:

    This sounds familiar. I had a great love for reading but English classes were trying to suck the enthusiasm out of me. I do believe books can have depth but the lengths that my english teachers would go to to see symbolism was rediculous. Sometimes the flower would be symbols for hope or some other thing, but sometimes a flower is just a flower, and never will it always be a subconscious representation of the female reproductive organs like my last english teacher would mention every single class… Also, I hated the idea of annotation, ruining a good book like that which would go to the next class who would have to deal wth cleaning it up before mucking it up yet again!

    Anyways, I realised how little effort I had to put in once I got an A on an essay on Pride and Prejudice while I had only read half of it. Since I dropped English, I have been picking up some more books to read but never to the level that I did when I was very into books in year 7. Sad that.

    Also, Great Expectations sucked balls.

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      I much prefer the South Park version of Great Expectations. I never read the modern remake of Pride and Prejudice, nor did I read more than two chapters of the original when I was assigned it in the 12th grade, but it can’t be any worse.

      It really irritates me that we’re trained to search for depth in an almost Pavlovian manner when we come across certain specific objects like trees and flowers. Then teachers have the shame the laugh when their students come up with their own bullshit metaphors like, “He was as tall as a six-foot three-inch tree.”

  28. Siverstorm says:

    Omg I completely agree with high school. I enjoy reading for the plot, but English in high school is retarded.

    Overanalyzing every single pointless phrase. I think the true meaning behind those lessons is teaching kids how to bullshit properly for when they get desk jobs in the future. Being able to twist facts to mean anything you want. Lol

    Good post 😛

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      Bullshit, to some extent, is a valuable white-collar job skill. The thing is, everyone you’re working with has also been trained in BS. If you push it too far, not only are you going to get called out for it, it’s going to backfire, and you’re going to look like an asshole. That’s why English classes should do more to teach restraint. If you’re just going off on some overanalytical bullshit tangent that nobody buys, the teacher shouldn’t just nod and applaud. If you’re a lawyer and do that in front of a judge, you just lost your case. If you’re a salesman and did that in front of your client, he’s never coming back. If you’re a businessman and did that to your boss, you’ll get passed over for promotions as long as he’s in charge.

      • siverstorm says:

        Again, agreed.

        Looking over my last year of english and my current year it’s all the same stuff. Read and analyze every single sentence in an essay.

        No one in their right mind (Aside from English teachers) is going to care about how many times Shakespeare mentioned nature in Macbeth.

        Hell, even some classics I might’ve enjoyed I ended up hating, like the Catcher in the Rye. All the overanalysis of just “How damn depressed Holden Caufield is” made me hate the entire book because that’s all we focused on.

        Haha, other than that I don’t really have anything to add 😛

  29. Canne says:

    Luckily, my teacher in high school was the opposite of the smug asshole you met. My teacher said it was the worst crime writing anything in the book (not to mention making note at every margin) because it ruined the book and it was a disrespect to the writer. 😉

  30. Hogart says:

    So TL;DR is that a teacher ruined reading for you, by drilling away the “imagination” and “interpretation” aspect of it and replacing it with rote academic bullshit? Maybe that’s why so many kids in North America hate reading? I don’t recall having that much of a killjoy as an English teacher.

    As for getting bored or feeling like it’s a chore.. that’s why I mix it up. I can’t just watch live-action/anime, read (light)novels or manga or listen to music. I have to switch it up so I don’t get bored or feel like I’m starting to analyze things too much.

    One of my favorite experiences is to read something and watch the live-action/anime re-interpretation (or soemtimes the other way around). It’s kinda fun to see how others imagined a world that was in the author’s head, and how different your interpretation may have been to other’s.

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      One of my favorite experiences is to read something and watch the live-action/anime re-interpretation (or soemtimes the other way around). It’s kinda fun to see how others imagined a world that was in the author’s head, and how different your interpretation may have been to other’s.

      It’s fun when I do it on my own, like with Spice and Wolf (post forthcoming), but as usual, English classes screwed it up. Whenever they show a movie adaptation after completing a book, it’s some old, crappy, low-budget monstrosity that should never have seen the light of day.

      The mix of watching anime and writing about it is plenty to keep me going. I’m always watching sports and comedies too, so I never run into the problem getting sick of the same old thing.

  31. Kyoin says:

    I think I’m in that phase you were in. I haven’t read anything for fun in awhile. I used to love reading. But now it’s just meh. I’ve been reading the way my school wants me for at least two years. I don’t like over-analyzing the characters. I don’t like going over the themes. I just want to read a story. I couldn’t even read the book they assigned me over the summer. I just skimmed for the answers and used spark notes to back up my answers. Fuck you Mr. Johnson, you’ve ruined reading for me.

  32. Heinsia says:

    So are you planning to read Higurashi next?

  33. Glo says:

    I think this happens to everyone. There was a point in time where I would actually buy books at the bookstore. I read all of Dan Browns books in a day. His latest book came out, I read three pages, and I haven’t opened it since (this was about a year ago or whenever the hell it came out).

    I had almost the exact same teacher last year in my Literature class, which is of course madatory, or else I wouldn’t have taken it. They were all short stories, and people would give retarded answers, ranging from the characters were actually dead to they were all on acid. However, when I would give an opinion, it was somehow always wrong. I got an A in the class anyway because my writing is amazing, but what a joke.

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      Wow, a lit teacher who actually told a student he was wrong?!

      Selling your soul for an A was something I aced in high school. I stopped in college and stopped getting A’s. Funny how that works. I had this Professional Writing class that was an absolute joke. It was 100% effort-based, and I got a B because it was 100% effort-based.

  34. moridin84 says:

    “Do you think Hamlet teaches kids to disobey their parents”

    I got that question in an exam once, seriously. Before answering the question I put a little paragraph saying how stuipid the question was, got in trouble obviously but it was worth it.

    Anyway, I think you should try this: http://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Claw-First-Wolfe-Gene/dp/0312890176
    Not because it’s good, it’s just with all that bullshit ‘prose’ you’ll almost definitely stop trying to analyze every single paragraph, I had least wasn’t even able to read every one.

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      The best worst question I ever got was from my asshole 10th grade teacher about Taming of the Shrew. Basically, it’s about a dude who tortures this chick until she stops being a bitch and starts being submissive to him. Dipshit Teacher asks, “At the end of the book, does Dude have Chick wrapped around his finger, OR DOES CHICK REALLY HAVE DUDE WRAPPED AROUND HER FINGER?!?!?!?!”

      I guess the alternative to rehabbing through light stuff is to read something so heavy that I have to get over it. Will consider.

  35. Just Generic says:

    Forget light novels dive into something heavy. Forget subtext and forget depth for the time being. If you don’t enjoy reading books then it doubt it will make you enjoy it more. There are plenty of authors that are “deep” with lots of “subtext” but have such clever use of language that they are incredibly readable.
    Try Cats Cradle by Curt Vonnegut, its incredibly readable. I lent the book to my younger brother and he read it in a week, then went back a month later because he really wanted to understand it more.
    Read Nabokov. He has a reputation for being a huge literature heavyweight but the way he uses language is so unbelievably clever the pages fly by. Don’t read Lolita or Pale Fire first, I would recommend Invitation to a Beheading, Bend Sinister, or Despair.

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      I won’t lie, clever language turns me on. Aside from a strong plot, clever language may be the only that that can get me through a novel that’s generally regarded as analysis fodder. Vonnegut and Nabokov will be considered.

  36. Yi says:

    Agreed. English classes killed my love for reading books. I actually enjoyed Catcher in the Rye when I first read it in 9th grade because of friend recommendation. Then come 12th grade, I read it again and all I can associate with it now are the smug pretentious faces of my classmates… And the long boring lectures on existentialism or w/e philosophy that’s raging that day.

    “he was supposedly brilliant… He was actually a smug asshole whose sole pleasure in life was showboating his mastery”
    Sounds like a lot of people I know… especially online.

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      That’s why I don’t hang out online.

      Catcher in the Rye wasn’t too bad for me, in the sense that my expectations were a lot worse. The language was pretty simple, and where I saw opportunity for analysis, I ran as fast as I could. No teachers around to push me into it. Still pretty lame for a book that was supposedly extremely controversial (see comment #16).

  37. I’m curious – do you find the same results if you listen to books on tape?

  38. Shinmaru says:

    Yeah, analysis overkill nearly murdered my enjoyment of reading in high school. I think I was able to keep the love because I actually do enjoy that sort of analysis to an extent … just not to the masturbatory lengths you get in school a lot of the time. And I read for fun so much outside of class anyway that it would have taken the analytical equivalent of a nuclear bomb to kill off my enjoyment completely, haha.

    You ever read any non-fiction? It generally isn’t quite as embellished with symbolic detail as fiction, from what I’ve read, and there are tons of entertaining stories out there. Plus, for whatever reason, non-fiction is really easy to pick up and read whenever the hell you want.

  39. I just wanted to pop in here real quick and point out that there’s a pretty thick line between “my English teacher sucked” (maybe legit) and “literature sucks” (outright stupidity). A lot of us aren’t ready for / aren’t in the mood for serious reading back in high school. I used to read all the time as a kid, but high school killed that off for me too… for a while. It wasn’t the cheap genre fiction that got me back into reading (as many of them as I tried). It was reading Ulysses as an adult that re-opened the world of reading to me (and I haven’t looked back since). Maybe literature isn’t for you (I’m talking “you” in general, not Baka in particular)? Fine, we all enjoy different things. But that doesn’t mean you should throw around ignorant nonsense like “bullshit prose” and “depth is a sham”.

    • Oh, just to clarify further, I’m not saying that all “depth” isn’t bullshit. Some readings of text seem a bit too much “extracurricular” for my liking. And over-analysis can (can, not will) burden a reading (this can sometimes equal bad teacher or annoying pretentiousness). None of these, however, are good arguments against literature as a whole, I might add.

      • I just thought of the perfect book for you and everyone else here complaining about literary analysis: “House of Leaves” by Mark Danielewski. I won’t try to summarize or sell it (because I feel I may spoil something) beyond saying that the book practically parodies the over-analytical reading style you hate. Might be therapeutic for you. Damn good read too.

      • Baka-Raptor says:

        Depth is a sham. I stand by that statement 100%. I put more thought into that statement than you’ll hear in any deep high school English class discussion, that’s for sure. If you think I wrote that for cheap laughs, you’re absolutely mistaken. Something I once enjoyed was needlessly ruined, and I have every right to be angry about it. As you can tell by the rest of the comments, I’m not the only one who feels this way. Maybe there’s a serious problem here.

        With that said, I thought I was pretty clear in pointing out that my problem with reading is the act of reading, not depth. It definitely isn’t the literature itself. The words on the paper are honest; they’re certainly not a sham. It’s the readers who conjure up the sham. I’ll get into that in greater detail whenever my post on depth comes around. Expect it in about two years.

  40. Grimmer says:

    I’ve walked the mirror path.
    Each year we were expected to read but a single book. Usually a shitty one. We were proclaimed king of the world if we managed to rehash the plot and explain some of the ‘tricky words’.
    Fierce shielding from knowledge and cheap thrills left me wanting…so thesedays I’m willingly plowing through the classics world literature has to offer and I’m loving it. Well, it kind of went downhill once I discovered anime and manga…but I got my shit back together once I realized that – university crap aside – my younger self was actually smarter than me, lol. Ah well, if anything my pop culture days left me with a nice collection of manga, comics, so-called ‘graphic novels’ and a broadened world view (not to mention your rants).

    All things aside I wouldn’t call reading the epitome of fun though. For swift gratification any blockbuster will do, in fact I prefer that by far. It’s just that books prove to be the victorious form of entertainment in the long run. Certainly worth a second shot after the required cooling down from autocratic english teachers 🙂

    PS. not to mention that it’s a great way to increase (or regain) your attention span. Heavy internet-action left me with the attention span of a goldfish. Books are a great way to train you into focusing on a single thing for more than 20 seconds.

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      If I were in your situation, I could definitely see myself reading tons of classics, but I wouldn’t analyze them any farther than logic and common sense would take me.

      Instant gratification kicks ass. Speed is the best argument against reading. Why spend a week on a book if you could take down a movie in a night? Books do have their benefits though, even beyond increasing your attention span. For one, you can control the story at your own pace. It makes the spicywolfanomics a lot easier to follow. It also worked a lot better for Kyon’s sarcastic mental quips in Haruhi. I must admit though, Strawberry Panic was better when you could see the lesbians.

  41. kadian1364 says:

    My best high school teacher taught me how to write a short essay: formulating the thesis, constructing the paragraph, and the strengths and weaknesses of various support techniques; things that I could apply universally to any interpersonal communication. My worst high school teacher (other than the religion teachers) taught me Lord of the Flies, i.e. how to BS through high school academia (which happened to help get through those religion classes haha).

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      By far the most useful English class I had in high school was 11th grade AP Language and Composition. Yeah, we did our fair share of analysis, but the focus was on the writing. I use in the real world, and I also do it for fun. The most useless class was 12th grade AP English Literature, which was all about analysis. I never use it in the real world, and I’d never do it for fun.

  42. j.valdez says:

    I’ve had an issue with fiction for a very long time. It seems that I simply didn’t enjoy reading it. It wasn’t anything as notable as your schooling that caused it. I simply never developed a real love of reading fiction. Recently, I’ve read a few novels. Coincidentally, I started The Count of Monte Cristo a few months ago. I put that aside because I was hearing a lot about William Gibson (he had a new book out). So, I decided to read Neuromancer because, apparently, its the best cyberpunk book ever written.

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      The Count of Monte Cristo has the best plot I’ve ever come across in classic literature. I picked it up because I watched Gankutsuou and thought it just might be the kind of book that could get me back into reading. It didn’t, and it wasn’t even close, but I’m glad I gave it a chance. I’m also glad I read the abridged version, despite the inevitability that some asshole would wander into my dorm room, see the book, and scoff at me for only reading the abridged version.

  43. Epi says:

    I too used to love reading and read a huge amount of books before grade 8/9 but then was turned off reading in high school. While I think the BS that was high school English (disclosure: I had 90s in English because I’m good at bullshit) was annoying, I don’t think that it ‘ruined’ reading for me. I think the biggest thing that ruined reading was the fact that around the same time I entered high school (1995), the internet began to take off in a serious way. Thus all my reading turned from books to reading random things online.

    The second thing was that during my formulative years, movies/TV had finally reached a critical point where basically any story could actually be accurately recreated in a visual way that didn’t look completely cheesy. I had always loved reading because I loved stories (especially sci-fi/fantasy), and when those stories could very easily be transferred to the big/small screen, there’s really no point in reading. I mean I don’t even find the point of reading manga when I could be watching the anime.

    Of course the internet only makes it easier to acquire such visual stories and makes actually going to a library/bookstore even more and more obsolete.

    Then there’s the fact that in our increasingly distracting world with so much choice, it’s hard for me to find a chunk of time like 10 hours to read a book (I tend to read and not stop until I finish) as opposed to 2.5 hours to watch a movie or better yet 20 mins to watch some anime.

    Globalization has also helped because now we can easily watch the best productions created around the world with previously unheard of production values created by the most brilliant artists the globe has to offer at the click of a mouse. Couldn’t do that before.

    So really I think that the confluence of technology making visual stories better and better and much easier to acquire is the biggest reason why I don’t read anymore. I can get my stories much more vividly and with higher production values than I can possibly imagine in my head.

    For the record I do read a ton of non-fiction things in magazines and online. Just don’t read fiction much if at all anymore.

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      I have no problem with technological progress eating up the market share of print fiction. I certainly don’t buy into that “reading is good for you” propaganda. Once you’ve reached the point of literacy, if other stuff is more fun than reading, do other stuff.

      Even if I I didn’t hate reading, I doubt I’d read novels a lot. Maybe a one or two a year? Right now I do most of my reading online. That probably wouldn’t change. It would just be nice to have the option of a novel open. I hear some are pretty good.

  44. Jacob Martin says:

    I love to read, because my English teachers didn’t ruin reading for me. They did however ruin Blade Runner for me, which for a time was a compulsory text of study in English Advanced classes in the years 2007-2009 in the Australian HSC syllabus. At least they didn’t make us do an essay on whether Deckard was a Replicant. But other than that our English texts of study kicked ass – if you took English Extension 1 and 2 you got to study Crime Fiction and watch The Big Sleep.

    Maybe Australians are weird, because our video games are so expensive books look like a good option for noobs like myself who can’t hack it at Street Fighter IV.

    I laughed at your Magic card reference, I still play that game. A French chick on my campus warned me while I was playing it with Phillip Adams’s godson that if anybody saw me I’d get beaten up, which didn’t happen because art school campuses are full of hipsters, not jocks.

    I recommend you read something that interests YOU, particularly while you are young. It is my opinion that nerds who suck at video games like me are doomed to take an interest in literature and quality cinema, but that’s just me. You Baka-Raptor, you’re more complex because you are more badass at your gaming skills. Maybe you could become some kind of internet badass, oh wait – you are one now.

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      I never played Magic myself. I watched my middle school classmates play several times, but never played myself. I barely remember the cards anymore and still found Comment #30 awesome. As Magic cards cost money, and my parents would never give me money for anything non-academic, I never had any. Basically the same deal for video games, which is why I’m still working my way through the PS2 library.

      I should be able to like novels. I like anime after all. Nothing turns me on like a good story. I’m sure I’ll find a good one someday. Until then I’ll keep trying to catch up on gaming. Who knows, someday I may only be four years behind current releases.

  45. ketchup says:

    Oh God, I’m going through this bullshit right now. I thought I was the only one who thought writing about the emotion that the serene beauty of the hopping gopher evokes from me is total crap. Now, I just choose books that have wikipedia pages and tv series/movies. Occasionally, SparkNotes is also used. Also, a question for anyone who will answer it: Is CliffNotes better or is SparkNotes better?

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      Geez, this is making me feel old. When I was in high school, Cliff Notes, the historically popular study guide, was mainly still in paper, and SparkNotes made a name for itself by dominating the online scene. Since SparkNotes was online and free, everyone I know used it, and I never tried out Cliff Notes. I’m sure it’s perfectly good though.

  46. Shiro, Long Tail's says:

    Yeah I feel you, only in my case it was college that sucked any enjoyment from reading out of me. Too many nights spent pouring over textbooks trying to learn basic principles my professors (more like researchers) were too lazy to teach. Nowadays the thought of cracking open a book is unpleasant. I’ve been trying to get back into the habit of reading since here’s a lot of literature that has either been recommended to me or ones I’ve wanted to read personally. To start I picked up an old sci-fi classic off my shelf that I’ve been meaning to read for ages. It’s pretty slow going, and the mass of technobabble at the start of the book isn’t helping. It’s been about two weeks since I opened it up last and not for lack of interest or writing style, it’s quite good in both regards. I suppose I’ve just too closely associated reading with being waste of my free time.

    If you’re getting hung up on stop and go, deeper meaning bullshit analysis then I suggest either picking up a book whose meaning is so thinly veiled anyone can pick up on it so you don’t even need to stop and roll your eyes. Or maybe a book that makes no attempt to be coherent. Or a choose your own adventure book, man I loved those as a kid. Yeah that advice isn’t really helpful. How about this, go read a graphic novel with some sexy artwork so you can at least admire the backgrounds while you’re ingrained stop and chop takes over and you’re stuck mulling over the societal critique present in Watchmen.

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      As an undergrad, I had plenty of brilliant professors who sucked at teaching. The difference between you and me is that I never compensated for it by reading the textbooks. That’s why my grades sucked and I had to run away to law school.

      Textbooks never interfered with novels for me, or vice versa. Two different beasts. Textbooks are just info. Don’t need to interpret, just understand. I trust textbooks. I don’t trust novels.

      I suggest either picking up a book whose meaning is so thinly veiled anyone can pick up on it so you don’t even need to stop and roll your eyes

      Opal Mehta. It was a shitty book, but it was the easiest read of everything I listed. I still had to force myself a bit, but it only took me about five days to finish.

      Choose Your Own Adventure Books kicked ass. I once pissed off my elementary school library by anonymously overloading the suggestion box with Choose Your Own Adventure titles. The next week there was a huge basket on the front desk with a sign saying, “HERE ARE YOUR CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE NOVELS!”

      • Shiro, Long Tail's says:

        Glad to hear you like Choose your own adventure books. Might I suggest a choose your own adventure Hard Boiled Webcomic:
        http://www.mspaintadventures.com/?s=4

        It’s a choose your own adventure in that sense that when it was running the artists took the readers input and made comics out of them. It’s really good stuff the way he manages to make sense of a lot of the ridiculous requests so I highly recommend it.

  47. Michael says:

    Fuck yeah, Opal Mehta! I got Baka-Raptor to read! Cool!

    Jokes aside, I’ve only started hating reading when I started medical school. I’m trying to regenerate my love for reading back, and I’ve been grateful that my teachers weren’t pretentious pricks that did that to me. I always hated writing on books, but I do write notes on passages I just think of as awesome.

    I think I experienced that disgust when I started medical school. There was just too much to read that one can’t really read what one wants to, and that pissed me off.

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      You got me to read TWO books: Opal Mehta and Catcher in the Rye. Never speak to me again.

      I can’t imagine you not loving reading. I’m jealous of how much you love reading, or at least how much I think you love it. If you can hate reading, there’s no hope for me.

  48. Chevy787 says:

    I’ve just come to say that I can only read what I like.
    I read The Hobbit in 3rd grade for my own self, it was decent (Robinson Crusoe was better). Though, once I started getting into higher grades and getting books forced upon me, I started to dislike reading more and more. This becomes worse since Mark Twain decided to find his wife here and evntually burry himself here. Please die somewhere else next time, Mark Twain. I still do enjoy reading books that I like such as The Melancholy Haruhi Suzumiya that I wrote the best essay ever on for an extra-credit assignment (it was alos my first 100 of the year for an essay).

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      I read The Lost World (Jurassic Park’s sequel) in the 5th grade. No analysis, just dinosaurs and guns, the way reading was meant to be. That’s when reading was fun.

      I didn’t even give myself the chance to hate Twain. When I was assigned Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn (whichever it was) in the 11th grade, I just assumed I’d hate it and skipped straight to the SparkNotes. I’d usually at least try reading a chapter or two. Man, I really hated reading back then.

  49. TheBromgrev says:

    As a LONG time lurker (2 years), this is my first post.

    For me, Great Expectations was what showed me that American English courses were complete jokes. I easily made it into “honors” 9th grade, and had to read that horrible piece of trash. The only redeeming part of the class was when we read The Odyssey and were forced to make some kind of presentation over GE. Even though my presentation was by-far the best (I got the only A), and involved taping a doll (pink power-ranger action figure) wearing a white “dress” doused in turpentine getting lit on fire to represent the “catching on fire scene”, the teacher felt I wasn’t “honors” 10th grade material. I guess I showed her when I got a 5 on the AP test and didn’t have to take a single English Literature or Language course in college (I scored high enough on the AP test and various placement-tests that I got a minor in English Literature without taking a single class).

    After graduating and getting a demanding job (SQA and V&V engineer for a military jet-engine program), the only books that I read for pleasure are the true classical literatures. I’m talking about The Illiad, The Odyssey, The Aeneid, The Ramayana, The Mahabharata, etc., and not the stupid classics like Tale of Two Cities or Tom Sawyer. To me, there’s a reason those old epics survived the previous 3,000 years of human history, and I enjoy reading them. Mostly, because the major themes, characterizations, and plot points in those epics still apply today (Hector cared about 1 and only 1 thing: protecting his wife and child from the horrible fate they would meet if the Greeks won; what man today doesn’t feel that way when going to war?).

    While your posts are intermittent and rare, I normally enjoy them. However, this is the first post you’ve made in the past 2 years that really made me connnect with what you’re writing. Granted, alcohol might help with that 😀

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      The Illiad, The Odyssey, The Aeneid, The Ramayana, The Mahabharata, Baka-Raptor—that’s right about where I envision myself.

      It’s one of my goals in life to read The Mahabharata. I’d also like to give one of the Greek epics a shot, though I haven’t decided which. Not that I’m in a rush to choose. First comes God of War III.

      I just browsed the CMU course catalog for the English minor requirements. Course titles like “Poetry Workshop” scared me shitless. Glad I stuck to Econ.

      My asshole 10th grade English teacher would talk behind my back once I left his class. He’d say that some people were only in AP English to satisfy their egos and didn’t really belong there. Huge douchebag. He needs a “copious and utile” ass kicking.

      Even though you’ve been reading for two years, part of me considers you new if you hadn’t been reading since I revamped my site in Feb. 2007. Still, it’s always cool to hear from long-time readers.

  50. fathomlessblue says:

    I remember having a disussion with an old archaeolgical professor of mine regarding presenting a hypothesis for field research. His general belief was that as long as theres no definite evidence against an idea then you could argue any old nonsense and nobody will be able to refute it with any certainty.

    That same stance probably covers at least half of individual interpretations from “depth” reading.

    Thankfully, while I do enjoy looking for greater meaning in classic texts my mind has never been altered like yours in regards to reading, therefore I can plow through books even if I don’t pick up 4/5th’s of whats being said behind the scenes. Besides, if i’m really that bothered I can check the internet afterwards for other people’s bullshit/opinions.

    It also helps that, despite my protests to the contrary, many of the books I read (mostly fantasy) are looked down upon from an academic point of view so i’ve never been encouraged to look for further meaning.

    Sucks about you’re asshole teacher though; most of mine were awesome and encouraged different outlooks on discussed literature. I remember one guy jumping up and down with a huge smile on his face when I gave an interpretation of a sentence he’d never understood properly (it was to do with an old english slang phrase or something). More than a bit excessive but hey, can’t fault the enthusiasm.

    If anything I can relate this post to highschool art rather than literature. I used to love drawing anime, insects, architecture etc, but a whole year of being forced to draw bowls of fruit with pastels permanently destroyed my enthusiasm… bastards!

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      Some measure of discipline can take the fun out of anything. I used to love swimming. Then I was on my school swim team through all of middle school and high school. I rarely go swimming anymore. I don’t hate it, but it’s just not as fun as it used to be.

      In archaeology, I imagine there are so many gaps in what you can know about past that there’s nothing to be gained by throwing out every theory with some uncertainty to it. Still, there has to be some measure of responsibility and ethics and in the field. There’s no way you could just make up some cockamamie theory and be automatically granted research funds to go digging for fun.

      It also helps that, despite my protests to the contrary, many of the books I read (mostly fantasy) are looked down upon from an academic point of view so i’ve never been encouraged to look for further meaning.

      This is one of the reasons I say depth is a sham. Elitists are so insistent on the existence of depth—whenever they feel like a work is good enough for it. Trees in sci-fi aren’t as good as trees in Dickens.

  51. Praz says:

    Surely you still enjoy reading political treatise; ie ‘The 10 things you CANT say in America’, or ‘I am America (and so can you!)’

    On a side note, mmmmmm, coffee…

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      I could read libertarian propaganda all day. You don’t need to analyze it. It’s common sense!

      Humor has been easy to read ever since I discovered Maddox. Besides, it’s not like English classes ruined comedy. Intellectuals see no merit in comedy.

      • Praz says:

        Speaking of propaganda, I finally got around to watching ‘Sicko’ the other day. Certainly an interesting perspective on the state of healthcare. I would be intrigued to hear your take on it at some point in the near future.

  52. ~xxx says:

    when I first read a book… It was a text book.

    and though now that we had a lot of books in our house… I can’t find that strength to finished them all even I know them all.

    crap! though I hate reading… I really need to do it for my studies in the cruel feasibility studies and thesis which by the way kills me a lot.

    is there any subject that doesn’t require to read books…any of it!

    But the most enjoyable book I read would be the math book in my highschool… I still like it.

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      Wow, you’re a huge loser. Not that I’m one to talk. One of my favorite books of all time is the 1993 World Almanac. Not kidding.

      If a subject doesn’t require any reading, it probably won’t make you much money. Suck it up. Your future trophy wife will thank me.

      • ~xxx says:

        anyways… It came handy in tournament in math so I can’t say it didn’t do any good to me… but somehow I did manage not to read it anymore due to obsolescence issue…hahahah!

        But If I were to read… I’ll definitely read Da vinci Code(still haven’t read it) or something mind boggling. I guess, that something I really can’t change… unless they decided to pass a bill that limits the weight of the bag a student had to carry.

  53. […] honestly don’t remember that much. I wanted to rewatch the OVA before writing this post, but my last post was so popular that I spent all my free time responding to comments instead of reliving the horror […]

  54. Janette says:

    I’m of the opinion that finding symbolism and such in writing are English teacher’s way of proving who has the bigger cock.

    My prof this semester is nice. She’s decided that symbolism is a personal interpretation, and there are no right answers.

  55. Michael says:

    @Baka-Raptor

    You hated Catcher in the Rye? That was an easy read, and while controversial and contentious, you can’t help but perceive its effect on people during the time, and on teenagers nowadays.

  56. […] storage cannot handle the massive scanlation, and he starts spurting blood everywhere, much like what happens whenever Baka-Raptor tries to read anything.  In due time, Touma spots the glow from all the magic, and runs in to Imagine Breaker the hell […]

  57. Yuki says:

    OMG. I totally agree. I can’t stand reading for school anymore. I’m still in high school, and I recently read the longest book I’ve read in a long time (A long time meaning maybe 4 years…? …Ish?) And what I read was Battle Royale. Nice, gore. And one of the things I really don’t like about reading/reading for school is that I never have time for reading. ESPECIALLY WHEN THEY GIVE US 60 PAGES OF READING AND EXPECT US TO HAVE NO OTHER HOMEWORK. My teacher finds ways to keep us from using Sparknotes. Two weeks ago I had to stay up until 4AM to finish 2/3 of a book because I had a test the next day. 🙂 Man, I hate school in general.

  58. Knight Of Zero says:

    How about listening to audiobooks? Are you open to doing that? It works for me.

    Problem is that I do it for leisure and not to beat a deadline to make a book report on it.^_^

    BTW, I love these out-of-anime-topic posts. The number of replies to your post prove that many agree with me, that or I’m just a grumpy old man who ain’t interested in today’s anime scene anymore, just like the guys at Colony Drop.

  59. Steve says:

    Absolutely true. “Language Arts” is such utter bullshit. There can be rigor in communication; things can be taken for literal value. There doesn’t have to be stupid esoteric symbolism behind every word. If someone writes something airy fairy that can be taken in many different ways, then it means the writer doesn’t want to or doesn’t know how to clearly communicate. And god do I hate delicacy in reading “interpretation”. The truth is, there are many ways to interpret literature depending on your perspective. I’ve been chastised so many times because I didn’t interpret it the same way as my teacher. Fucking stupid bullshit. I really don’t care though, because English classes secretly serve to mop up these idiots so that they can be expunged from the rest of society.

  60. […] Reading sucks, but I must admit the light novel has one major advantage over the anime. The economics gets rather complicated at times. Digesting those pages at your own pace makes for much better entertainment than watching the characters yap through antiquated trading lingo so quickly that even a prodigious economist such as myself was unable to understand fully without the pause button. […]

  61. Mayuka says:

    I agree. I hate it when I have to read a book and do some shit novel analysis on it. I’m forced to read 1984 by Orwell for Gr 11 English class. We have 20 questions to answer for each chapter. I gave up eventually out of boredom so I decided to befriend Sparknotes.

    I do like reading though. But I’m quite picky with my books and I give up instantly on a book if I don’t like the style of writing.

  62. […] confident I could compensate for it with time, effort, dedication, or even a change of attitude. Sometimes it’s paid off, but all too often I’ve been unable to deliver. Sometimes it’s pure laziness: I […]

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