(This article orginally appeared in The Cheltonian,Volume 85 , Issue 4 )
There are an endless amount of books, and a school can only choose a handful of these to teach.While many books we read in English class are classics that have been celebrated for generations, some are irrelevant and franklyboring.A prime example is The House on Mango Street. It is a vague, cryptic
and somewhat unreadable book with characters more wooden than the love child of Keanu Reeves and Vin Diesel.
As a fan of fantasy, science fiction, and escapist works, I feel we should have a Sci- fi/ Fantasy elective in 11th and 12th English. The following are thought-provoking works for school reading.George Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984, should be taught. Orwell paints a bleak picture of the future with totalitarianism, big brother, mass surveillance and never-ending wars. Even though 1984 has come and gone, this book is becoming increasingly more relevant to our time than ever before.
We should also read the
fantasy classic The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R Tolkien. This book not only inspired the Academy Award winning film trilogy, but it deals withawe-inspiring themes such as good versus evil, greed, redemption and righteousness. While incorporating an entire book trilogy into a curriculum is extremely difficult, such an endeavor would pay off.
Students may also enjoy reading the works of the terrific, but little known, horror writer HP Lovecraft. He has been described as“the Poe of the 20th century” and that is a fair comparison. He wrote terrifying short
stories of the dark corners of New England, blasphemous scriptures and nihilistic alien gods that pioneered
true psychological horror.
Despite the artistic medium, Watchmen by Alan Moore, consideredby many to be the greatest comic book ever written, needs to be read. This mind-blowing superhero tale tells of an alternate 1985 where America has won the Vietnam war, Richard Nixon is still president, and the cold war is thawing ever closer to a nuclear apocalypse. Each character has diversepsychological and philosophical
profiles which help add deep moral ambiguity to the story.We can’t let the recent 2009 theatrical adaptation that disappointed many negate the original, great work of literature.