Even so, a lot of what we were assigned to read back then was complete bull crap. Nobody enjoyed it, because we didn't get to read anything cool. I can't help but wonder if that is why a lot of my peers do not enjoy reading for leisure.
Obviously the focus was on literature, so literary fiction takes the brunt of the blame. Then there's also classical literature, or at least that which is dubbed "classical" by what I can only imagine are stuffy academics who turn their noses up at more enjoyable genre fiction. (You know, the stuff that people actually read.)
Two things make a "literary classic": some professor calls it a classic, and it's old. As a bonus, it's usually long-winded. (Dickens was paid by the word, and that's a fact.)
THE SCARLET LETTER remains the worst book that I ever was assigned in high school. I never read anything else by Nathaniel Hawthorne, because my opinion after that book was that he was a complete hack, and that nothing worth my time could have ever spewed forth from the tip of his pen. There's a reason no one has tried to rehash the story as a YA fantasy, a trend that is fairly popular at present.
Though I never hated anything else as much as Hawthorne, I never loved stuff that I was forced to read and analyze ad nauseum, either. The only praiseworthy piece was a short story by Mark Twain called "The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg," because it was funny.
That's a crime, really, and an injustice to young readers. Do you mean to tell me that in the entire corpus of genre fiction, there is nothing worth assigning that would simultaneously feed the imagination of young student readers, while also incorporating deeper literary themes, such as love, loyalty, tragedy, loss, courage, and fortitude?
Bro, do you even Harry Potter?
I have a burning question for you, my fellow Americans: what are the worst books that you had to read in school? Give me a list. I have an idea of what I can do to make these stories better for young readers. I'm going to take a swing at making Hawthorne readable. And if I can do that, I believe I can do it with the books that you hate too. So let me know what really deserves it, and I will see what I can do for the youth of America.
Really, it's for future generations. Let's do this.