Let's Talk Bookish

Let’s Talk Bookish – Required Reading

Welcome to my Let’s Talk Bookish post. Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, created and hosted by Rukky @eternitybooks, where we discuss chosen topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts.

I haven’t done one of these in forever and honestly I’m so far behind that at this point I’m going to just continue to pick the topics that interest me until I complete them all and/or catch up.

This topic is talking about if required reading is a curse or a blessing. I swear that I already wrote this post, but maybe I just thought about it a lot because I can’t find it.

I personally feel like required reading is a double edged sword. I see the pros in required reading, but I also see the cons.

The Pros of required readings

**** It expands your horizons.

As narrow as a lot of required reading tends to be there have been some books that I was required to read that I probably wouldn’t have on my own that opened me up to new genres/stories. In my sophomore year of high school we had to read Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko. It was a book about a native american man who is struggling through some stuff. It was written in a style I wasn’t use to, but one I enjoyed way more than I thought I would. Same with in my senior year when I read The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, which is a book about a group of soldiers. I never would have read them on my own, but after I read them I was so glad that I did. Sometimes it’s nice to have your reading choices challenged.

**** Vocabulary/analysis building

I’m not sure if this has changed in recent years (I doubt it), but most books are written at a 5th grade reading level. That’s great because that means they’re easy to understand and enjoy. However, they’re not very helpful in building your vocabulary which some might not care about, but I think is at least a bit important. Also, some popular books aren’t that great when talking about literary analysis or larger conversations. Some, are, but I think a lot of required reading is chosen because they have a lot of meat on them that allows for lots of discussion and/or analysis. This is awesome because it builds are critical thinking and reasoning skills which I think would should all keep nice and sharp as we make our way through our lives.

The Cons of Required Readings

*** A Colonizer Bias

Many people have been talking about colonization and how it has affected our daily lives and also our education. Most required reading lets be honest are written by old, dead white guys or occasionally a white woman. Specifically when you’re talking about the classics. Shakespeare, Dickens, Thoreau, etc. It’s so Eurocentic it’s sad. I think those men did have interesting stories to tell, but I also believe that there are authors from other parts of the world who have just as valid of a contribution to make to the literary world. On the other hand, I think if we had more diverse required reading (and some schools do) I think it would be more valuable to education and literary discussion.

**** Building a dislike of reading

I think one of the greatest flaws of required reading is that it can leave a bad taste in people’s mouths about reading. If the only reading you do is required reading and you don’t enjoy what you’re reading I believe you start to think that all books aren’t for you. I remember hating Shakespeare and dreading the fact that I knew every year we would read another one of his plays. It didn’t stop me from loving to read, but it did make me enjoy my english class less. I think choice can be very powerful in creating a love of reading and I’m sad that so much time in classes can be taken up by a topic that no student even enjoys.

Well, those are my thoughts. They’re all over the place, but since I have such mixed feelings, but also am old enough that I no longer have required reading I’m probably not going to get more on point with my feelings. I’d love to read your thoughts on required required! What do you think? Good, bad, or somewhere in-between?

3 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Bookish – Required Reading”

  1. Required reading can be a hit or miss.

    Yes, there were books I liked and ones I didn’t like. Shakespeare- Romeo and Juliet, Taming of the Shrew, and Macbeth. Illiad/Odyssey, Great Gatsby, Frankenstein, The Crucible, The Giver, Of Mice and Men, And Then There Was None. Then College comes around and more required reading- Uncle Tom’s Cabin among some others. Just about all of the required reading I read I didn’t like.

    In high school, I was more close-minded to books. I told myself I wouldn’t like Shakespeare- the only one I liked was Taming of the Shrew. I really told myself I would NEVER love a tragedy. I loved Illiad/Odyssey and And Then There was None.

    Required reading never made me develop a strong dislike for reading. I love fantasies, mythology, and the classics. Some of those classics I love are, in fact, tragedies- it was Les Mis when I learned that I can love tragedies. I do know if I literally saw that particular book on the shelf, I would have walked right past it. The musical of Les Mis led to reading the unabridged book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So sorry, I thought I approved and replied to this, but it looks like there must have been a hiccup with my internet. I agree. Required reading is extremely hit or miss. I think it also depends on who is choosing the reading that is required. I found I enjoyed the required reading from teachers more that I felt a connection with then the ones I didn’t. Is that just a bias I have because I like the teacher? Maybe, but I think there’s lots of factors. Thanks for commenting! 🙂


      1. For me, what I liked and disliked was not because of the teacher.

        I was more close-minded in high school- told myself I will never love a tragedy or Shakespeare. That really didn’t help things.


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