I have no idea how I passed high school English. First of all, I never learned the formula for a high school English class essay. Secondly, I don’t think I actually read any of the books we were assigned.
And I love to read. I’ve always loved to read. But whenever I sat down to read the books assigned to me, my eyes just glossed over the words and I didn’t process them at all. The night before the English AP, I reread The Great Gatsby and thought, “Hey, that’s not a bad book.” (I got a 5 on the AP, by the way, but that’s because I was able to draw on my knowledge of Hamlet, from acting in it.) Even then, I must not have understood Gatsby, because last year, I reread it a third (?) time and it was all new to me. Did you know that all the characters do in that book is drink and party? How is this standard high school reading? How did I not realize that’s what it was about?
I reread Persuasion in college, like it was the first time, and very much enjoyed it.
I’ve been listening to some classics on audiobook while driving lately, because the last few contemporary novels I listened to pissed me off, and I wasn’t sure if that was because they were shitty books, or because I wasn’t experiencing them properly, having them administered through the ear. I’ve appreciated To Kill a Mockingbird (which I read as a young person, not for school, but I didn’t remember it well. I thought Boo Radley was the black guy Atticus defended.) and Of Mice and Men (which I’d never read).
Then I read that House of Mirth is Mindy Kaling’s favorite book. House of Mirth? You mean House of Boring! I couldn’t even get through that book in high school. Unless, maybe I didn’t really try? So I got it on audio, and you know what? Lily Bart’s kind of a kickass heroine.
So, for the record, I was an idiot when I was in high school.