Beginning in June 2012, we are reading one book per month that was part of the AP English course we both took in the 1993-4 school year. As we read each book, we’re using this blog to reflect both on our memories of reading these books at seventeen and on the experience of reading them now. Anyone who is interested is welcome to read these books along with us and join in the discussion in the comment fields.
June 2012: Isabel Allende, The House of the Spirits
July 2012: Shakespeare, Measure for Measure
August 2012: William Faulkner, Light in August
September 2012: Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim
October 2012: Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
November 2012: Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
December 2012: Henrik Ibsen, A Doll House and Hedda Gabler
January 2013: Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady
February 2013: Shakespeare, King Lear
March 2013: Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
April 2013: Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
May 2013: Henry James, The Turn of the Screw and The Aspern Papers
June 2013: Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing
July 2013: John Milton, Paradise Lost
August 2013: Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment
September 2013: Shakespeare, Hamlet
The end is so close and yet so far.
I still say that if we got through Lord Jim and Portrait of a Lady, we can do anything (even if those two books ended up being good).
What?! They gave you a whole month each for Paradise Lost and Anna Karenina!? Seriously, though, if this is the real list, then its one more reason to hate AP. Since when did reading literature become a race? And suppose a student actually came to like one of those books? That is, they really liked it and wanted to spend some time with it. With that absolutely ridiculous work load,did they have any choice but to quit the class? I was a political science and mathematics major in college (University of Michigan), but I took a number of upper division lit classes — Shakespeare, Russian Lit, 20th century Chinese Lit. I loved them. They molded me probably more than any other classes I had. But there were probably fewer assigned reading pages in all my courses combined than in your one AP high school class. How absurd!
Haha – Yes, this is the real list, although the months given above are the months in which we intended to read the books this time around. In high school we had 1-2 weeks for each book. I taught high school English for 10 years and was a dept. chair for five, and I can say with some confidence that this reading list would never be approved by the college board nowadays – they want to see lists of 10-12 moderately challenging, thematically linked books. In high school, though, I never resented this reading list (though I finished almost none of the books); I think I would have been insulted by a shorter list. I felt I had finally “arrived.” 🙂
I completely agree about feeling like I had “arrived” when we got to AP English. I wanted to read big, important books, and I remember being so excited to start that class. It beat me down quite a bit–let’s call it “character building,” that sounds better–but at 16-17 that’s what I expected and wanted from an AP English class. I found the reading lists for every single one of my upper division lit classes in college less challenging than my AP English class in high school (except when I took a Faulkner class–that was worse). It makes me proud of my high school experience that this was the case.
Why read one of these books each month? Why not each week? Or even one-a-day like a vitamin? Seriously, though, you read faster than me no doubt, and may have more time than me. But most or all of these books deserve MORE TIME simply to digest. One of those vast Russian novels in a month? How about 6 months. I spent a year with War and Peace — twice.