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Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 2997


Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 11:09 am    Post subject:  Reply with quote

But not all great literature appeals to everyone.  I will not be rushing to read any more Dostoevsky, for instance.  And your example, Evie,  of Lord of the Flies is one book that I remember with complete distaste, from school (or maybe university).  Probably one of those books I should revisit as an adult, but the thought doesn't appeal.  

And there are people who might want to try something more serious than they usually read, but wouldn't manage a long Dickens or Moby Dick, for instance.  I think you do have to tailor recommendations to people.

Cheers, Caro.


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Hector



Joined: 10 Jan 2009
Posts: 294


Location: Leeds

PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 1:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree Caro. I have a brother who is interested in literature (not enough to join a books messageboard, mind) and knowing his particular tastes, I would never in a million years recommend a Hardy book to him. I'm not saying he wouldn't enjoy it - just that there are plenty other books which suit his taste better and with limited reading available time, I know he wouldn't appreciate ploughing through The Mayor of Casterbridge!

Regards

Hector


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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3864


Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 2:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I agree that not all great literature appeals to everyone. Indeed, literature is not for everyone. But what I find sad is that there are many youngsters who, despite being bright, seem to grow up without developing any intellectual interest of any kind, in any subject. I do see quite a lot of that. There seems to be so little around them these days to stimulate their intellects, or to feed any intellectual curiosity they may have.

But returning to the subject of literature Ė if someone is studying literature, then they have to try everything out. How can they tell what they like and what they donít if they donít try out different things? If someone were to study physics, say, it would make little sense for them to say ďI like quantum mechanics, but I donít want to study fluid dynamics because I find it boringĒ. If youíre studying physics, you have to study across the entire range, and only when you have reached a sufficiently high level across the board can you specialise in the area you like best. Itís the same with any other subject, I think, including literature.

For someone not studying literature formally, then, ideally, any recommendation needs to be tailored to individual tastes; but even there, one should allow for the possibility that readers may be able to extend their tastes by trying out something new, or by applying themselves more to something that had previously passed them by. I can certainly think of many books that did not appeal to me at first acquaintance, but the appreciation of which has grown with greater understanding. This is often the case with literature of quality, where, as a consequence of the presence of depth, the qualities of the work are not always apparent merely from the surface.

I suppose I had intended this thread to indicate which of our own literary values we think are the most important, and which, therefore, we would most like to see passed on to the next generation of lovers of literature.



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Apple



Joined: 24 Nov 2008
Posts: 1751



PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2011 1:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Himadri Wrote:
Quote:
I suppose I had intended this thread to indicate which of our own literary values we think are the most important, and which, therefore, we would most like to see passed on to the next generation of lovers of literature.
This point clarifies exactly why I chose testament of Youth, because reading what the generation who lived (or not as was the case for many) during that era and the lack of basic rights which young women take for granted today and dismiss compared to the generally cushy lives we have now. That is an important point I would like to pass on, especially as this era is now out of living memory and consigned to history books, and the account of that time through the eyes of Vera Brittain is very humbling in my opinion.

Himadri Wrote:
Quote:
Indeed, literature is not for everyone. But what I find sad is that there are many youngsters who, despite being bright, seem to grow up without developing any intellectual interest of any kind, in any subject. I do see quite a lot of that. There seems to be so little around them these days to stimulate their intellects, or to feed any intellectual curiosity they may have.
I'd definitely agree with that, the only things which seem to engage kids around here is finding ways of getting around the licensing laws, buying alcohol and getting pissed. The thing is you see its not cool to like stuff like that, pier pressure is a huge thing and when all your mates are only interested in dossing about in the park with a 2 litre bottle of cider you aint going to go along with a copy of War & Peace or whatever!

and

Himadri also Wrote:
Quote:
But returning to the subject of literature Ė if someone is studying literature, then they have to try everything out. How can they tell what they like and what they donít if they donít try out different things?
I do disagree with that though in a way as we have already established that books you are forced to read generally end up being remembered negatively.

Evie Wrote:
Quote:
I would recommend anyone interested in literature to read Thomas Hardy, for example, regardless of whether I thought it was their 'thing', because I would recommend anyone to read all great literature. †Great literature transcends personal interests or experience.
I disagree with that you have to consider someone's personal tastes and interests when making recommendations, something which you consider great might be utter crap to someone else and going back to the attitude of the youth of today, who these recommendations are aimed at - if it doesn't interest them or engage them they won't even bother as they won't see any point in it.


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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3864


Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2011 9:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The questions of what should or should not be taught at school, and to what extent the English literature curriculum should be prescriptive, are all interesting questions, and are subjects about which I feel strongly. But letís discuss those issues on another thread (Iíll set one up shortly when I have a bit of time), and letís keep this thread for more suggestions on the sort of book weíd most like to recommend to younger readers, and the literary values that weíd most like to pass on.



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Mikeharvey



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 3374


Location: Lancashire

PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2011 12:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a young friend aged 24 of average reading ability who wanted to start reading after years of not doing so. Last year he asked my advice on books to get him started again. So far he's read at my suggestion:
                           Tom's Midnight Garden' (Phillipa Pearce) much enjoyed
                           The Weirdstone of Brisingamen' (Alan Garner) He finished this but found it rather hard going.
                           The Diary of a Nobody (Grossmith) He adored this, found it very funny and constantly refers to it.
                            Three Men In A Boat (Jerome) Loved it.
                            Treasure Island (Stevenson) Much enjoyed
                            My Family and Other Animals (Durrell) Current read

He also read - not on my recommendation - a novel by Danielle Steele which he devoured.


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Apple



Joined: 24 Nov 2008
Posts: 1751



PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2011 12:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mikeharvey Wrote:
Quote:
I have a young friend aged 24 of average reading ability who wanted to start reading after years of not doing so. Last year he asked my advice on books to get him started again. So far he's read at my suggestion:
                          Tom's Midnight Garden' (Phillipa Pearce) much enjoyed
                          The Weirdstone of Brisingamen' (Alan Garner) He finished this but found it rather hard going.
                          The Diary of a Nobody (Grossmith) He adored this, found it very funny and constantly refers to it.
                           Three Men In A Boat (Jerome) Loved it.
                           Treasure Island (Stevenson) Much enjoyed
                           My Family and Other Animals (Durrell) Current read

He also read - not on my recommendation - a novel by Danielle Steele which he devoured.


Tom's Midnight Garden is one of my daughters favourites! she often will re-read it.

If I was going to recommend novels to read "for fun" and for pure entertainment value and not to pass on any message or make any point for the reader to think about I'd go for:

Wuthering Heights - I won't go into great detail of why because everyone knows my opinion of this book, so the reasons why are obvious.

Three men in a boat - I chose this because it is absolutely timeless Ė and it proves that human nature hasn't really changed that much since Victorian times! There is not much plot to speak of - just the tale of three friends (and a dog) taking a boating trip up the Thames. It is incredibly funny and had me laughing out loud in many place.

The Harry Potter Series - Although practically every person on the planet has heard of this (unless they have been living under a rock for the last 10 years or so) and it has become practically a right of passage for every youngster to read the Harry Potter books, I would still recommend them as they are an incredible story of a young boy and his unique journey into adulthood, and they have that undeniable knack of wanting you to keep turning the pages and reading more.



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