Why did I read so much Shakespeare?

I teach a developmental writing class at one of our local community colleges once a week. Last night we had an interesting discussion, which began when one of the students wrote his essay on an influential person in his life, who was Arthur C. Clarke. The book “A Childhood’s End” had an enormous impact on this student’s life when he first read it as a child.

The discussion began when I commented that I had never read anything by that author. This brought shock and exclamation from the student. What?! This was the most important book he had ever read in his life, and his English teacher was basically saying she’s never heard of this author?  I suppose I would have the same reaction if someone said they’d never heard of Jane Austen.

Of course after a quick Wikipedia search I discovered that Mr. Clarke is a prolific science fiction author, who also penned “2001:A Space Odyssey”. So at least I have some knowledge of one of his works.

This whole discussion brought up a couple of thoughts:

  1. As an English major in college, why didn’t I read a larger variety of works, and what was offered? I’d love to get my hands on a course catalog from back in the day and see what was offered that I didn’t take. Did the school offer a course on science fiction authors? Female authors? The top 100 books of the 20th century? What genres did I close myself off to when I took several sessions of Shakespeare, Chaucer and poetry?
  1. I need to step it up on our reading list! I’m barely a fourth of the way through Catch-22 and even though I’m enjoying it, it’s going slow because I don’t always have a decent chunk of time to devote to reading.
  1. New on my list of upcoming reads after a few more students joined in the discussion with favorites of their own: The Shack, by William P. Young, The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, and Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand (number one on the Modern Library reader’s list).

I have $60 worth of book credits waiting for me at the used bookstore, and I am planning to use them!


Pick up a book and read!!

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