on the bookshelf: school edition
Soon enough I’ll be on my way home for Thanksgiving, but I wanted to share with you a few books that I recently read for school assignments. As I’ve previously mentioned, I’m usually not so much of a fan of the books school requires me to read or discuss. I think there’s a whole world out there of fiction and nonfiction that gets overlooked because of school curriculum. I’m not saying we have to read Harry Potter, but I wouldn’t exactly object to it either. I think if students read more books about what interests them, that passion and excitement they first had when mom or dad let them get their very own library card would be renewed.
At my university all students are required to take a certain group of classes throughout their four years that culminate what is supposed to be our growing experience at school. Obviously we all grow and change throughout the course of a few years, heck we change over the course of a week, but how much these classes really represent that change, I’m not sure. The class I’m taking now during my senior year is a literature/philosophy class. My professor in particular is focusing on utopias and dystopias. I really enjoy this class because it’s not “make a collage about your college experience” but rather an open discussion where we’re just analyzing and critiquing different societies.
So what have we been reading?
This past month for my core complement class we read The Children of Men by P.D. James.
For those who might think it sounds familiar, Clive Owen was in the movie version from 2007 I believe, which I haven’t seen, but I heard it varied a lot from the book. The basic premise of the story is that the human race is dying. Like so much of creation, we become a dying breed. Extinction is on the horizon because men and women have lost the ability to reproduce. It’s the first book that I’ve ever read or heard of that addresses the end of humanity in such a way where we physically die out because we simply cannot have children.
I was really intrigued by this book and the society it presents. It offers an entirely different perspective of our world. I say “our” because it appears that the rest of creation will go on existing while all humans will leave behind are remnants of buildings, structures, art, etc. Our history will be completely obliterated with no one to critique it, study it, analyze it, or learn from it. The story focuses around a small group of rebels and an unlikely comrade who go against the government and the regimented society that governs the world in its dwindling years. It’s a story of fighting back and reclaiming justice when the end seems inevitable and futile. It forces the question “what’s there to live for when the end is in sight?”
Another book we’re actually in the middle of reading is The Plot Against America by Philip Roth.
This book is told from the point of view of a nine-year Jewish boy living in Newark, NJ during the years of WWII. It’s a fictional story that takes a twist in examining what America may have been like under the presidency of Charles A. Lindbergh. Hero-turned-villain Lindbergh unleashes a slew of agendas and plots that haunt the Jewish communities of the United States. With a president who has an “understanding” with Adolf Hitler, how can the Jews or really any American citizen not fear for their life? I couldn’t put this book down. At some points I felt like I was having that dream where you’re screaming but not making any sounds. I thought it was a really innovative take on WWII and what America could have been like during those years of terror.
Both of these books fit under the genre of scholarly, “grown-up” books for me. They’re both worth the trip to the library.
Over Thanksgiving break amidst my numerous papers I will be researching and typing out, I think I’m either going to stick with some light magazines, classic movies, and some Christmas tunes. I’m just not sure I can justify or overcome the guilt I’ll feel for reading a book for pleasure when I have so many covered in post-its for research….
Has anyone else read either of these books or seen the movie for The Children of Men? What book are you reading now? I would love to hear your thoughts and recommendations!