Books From Your Teens (1 Viewer)

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I read Stephen King and James Herbert and a load of sci fi as a teenager Arthur C Clarke and John Wyndham etc.

I don't remember the group or inter cert but we did Wuthering Heights and King Lear for the leaving ...both of which I loved. Can't remember much else about school tbh I stopped showing up at the start of 6th year and hung out in the park with me guitar. Not clever
 

Lili Marlene

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when i was 17 (sounds like a song) in 1993 a pal of mine who was barely 16
got me to read The Trial by Kafka.
i wasn't too bothered but when i noticed the name Josef K I told him that had
been the name of a Scottish post punk band (who I never heard at the time)
and thought - OK, i'll give it a go and find out what Kafkaesque means into the bargain.

I liked it but compared to how miserable my life was at the time (earning about 110
Euros per week today's money) it seemed closer to reality than nightmarish.

I later bought Kafka's short stories which I liked even more.

so then my pal, on a roll, lent me another book The Prodigy by Herman Hesse.
he recommended it carefully knowing my dislike of formal education.
I managed to get through it - but gawd what cliched book.
I understand where Hesse is coming from but it does such a poor job
of deconstructing schooling's impact on the individual.
I could have done it far better myself. the story line was just crap.

he'd now blew all the cred he had built up on the back of Kafka and I said
no way was I going read another Hesse book when he next tried to give me
The Steppenwolf...

why i am mentioning this ? I very rarely read fiction then and even less now.
I don't have much suspension of belief ? (if that's what it's called) if something
implausible happens in a plot I feel like it's taking the piss.
i'm OK with the truly absurd e.g. Sharknado or something but it's like writing
a crime novel and holding back clues from the reader until the end - not having that.

I very rarely watch TV drama and few movies either.
narrative songwriting is a rare thing in my record collection.
storytelling doesn't really appeal to me much - anyone else feel the same ?

even in school you got little opportunity to write anything except fiction.
isn't the real world interesting ?
kids are being put off reading because they think it's all Harry Potter or
whatever. i would have loved the Horrible History books but never
heard of anything like that in the 80's.

some things I wanted to read I wasn't sure how to track down until my 20's:
my dad got a book for his 14th or maybe 15th ( i.e. the day JFK snuffed it) birthday
- The Pears Cyclopaedia.
it had a article on the wave of dramatists of the era -
Behan, Beckett, Osborne, Delaney, Pinter, Ionesco.
so I read that aged 15 myself and thought Beckett, Pinter and Ionesco sounded exciting.

the best thing was the writer when reviewing each play gave a full synopsis of the plot !
most people would hate spoilers like that but I thought it was great.
so instantly I knew Rhinoceros or The Caretaker were essential reads.
says a lot about how I view fiction.

some years later I tracked both down and some Sam B. and for once literature
met my expectations.
Rhinoceros is the best thing I've ever read - Berenger is my hero.
the final speech in that play, particularly the last few lines are beyond immense.

anyone know why people like the folks I've mentioned positively here
aren't on the secondary syllabus ?
or they just too good to let the education system ruin them for kids ?

and finally - I mentioned Postcard records band JOSEF K earlier.
they didn't get along with label mates ORANGE JUICE and the fact that
Edwyn Collins used the name of the protagonist of his favourite novel
for their Polydor pseudo label was cited as an example of difference in mentality -
'Holden Caulfield Universal.'
This is a very good post but I still don't know if there are any novels you like or what exactly it is that you want from fiction. Also, have you never read or listened or watched a thing that you didn't like but it was still worthwhile? Without getting too poncey about it all, at its most basic art is supposed to change you, liking or disliking it is almost besides the point. Obviously it's easier to get through it if if you like it.

It makes me tremendously sad that some people think "fiction is not for me" but I recognize that maybe I just have to accept that it might be the truth. Reality feels like its taking the piss as far as i'm concerned so i'm willing to go along with anything considered implausible. As Ursula LeGuin said many a time in many different ways, the biggest genre in town is so-called "realism."

As for the syllabus stuff, my gut instinct is that being forced to read one or two novels over 5/6 years is probably worse than reading none at all and we'd probably be better off if they were optional.
 
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Lili Marlene

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haha, found one of her quotes, and it's a good one:

“Realism is for lazy-minded, semi-educated people whose atrophied imagination allows them to appreciate only the most limited and conventional subject matter. Re-Fi is a repetitive genre written by unimaginative hacks who rely on mere mimesis. If they had any self-respect they'd be writing memoir, but they're too lazy to fact-check. Of course I never read Re-Fi. But the kids keep bringing home these garish realistic novels and talking about them, so I know that it's an incredibly narrow genre, completely centered on one species, full of worn-out cliches and predictable situations--the quest for the father, mother-bashing, obsessive male lust, dysfunctional suburban families, etc., etc. All it's good for is being made into mass-market movies. Given its old-fashioned means and limited subject matter, realism is quite incapable of describing the complexity of contemporary experience.”
 
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Unicron

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I read Stephen King and James Herbert and a load of sci fi as a teenager Arthur C Clarke and John Wyndham etc.

Read a shitload of Stephen King for recreation as a teen. Schoolwise I did TKAM* and Silas Marner. Probably something else in transition year. Then as far as plays went; Romeo and Juliet, As you like it and Othello.

* FWIW my take on that book, I still have an awful lot of affection for it but I understand the issues around it that have been raised and if it shouldn't be removed from the syllabus maybe the syllabus should just be expanded and teachers could choose to teach something a bit more relevant and suitable in 2020.

I don't ever remember when it was being studied any offensive language being said out loud by either the teacher or the students and I do remember it being read through a mix of it being read out loud and read by ourselves in class. I wonder if the teacher had us privately read the chapters containing offensive language
 

hugh

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Just thinking back and a lot of my teen reading revolved around The Alchemist’s Head. Got to meet Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams there!

Oh man. Me too. I'd make pilgrimages into town to visit that place. It's an (almost) forgotten piece of Dublin lore.
 

IFF

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Grapes of Wrath? Was that one?
Grapes of wrath was on my leaving cert exam as an unseen text

For the junior cert, we did "to kill a mockingbird" and "romeo and juliet

For leaving," how many miles to babylon", "hamlet" "philadelphia, here I come". For the film part, we saw "my left foot"

Poets were seamus heaney, William Shakespeare, Emily dickinson, and eavan boland
 

Cornu Ammonis

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Given the thread has opened up from just JC/LC books, l went through a big Stephen King phase too. I went off him as I started enjoying “serious” literature and even within horror I’d veered towards the arty stuff. I’ve come back around to King (and I’ve never lost any love for the Dark Tower books, they are something else) as I’ve come to appreciate that despite a lot of throwaway work, he has some stuff that was digging into places that few others were in a long time (and have become quite trendy now with folk horror, urban weird, the new weird fiction).

I also remember stealing Paradise Lost from the school library. I still have it and I should probably offer to donate some books to the school in payment.
 

egg_

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The first time I went to the library was when I was five. I got out "Giraffes at home" and "Harry the Hairy-Nosed Wombat". I remember the titles (and what age I was) cos I never returned them, they're still in my Ma's house

(the other thing I remember was Abba's "Fernando" playing on the radio in the car (not our car) on the way there)
 

Lili Marlene

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Ah, that's a fantastic memory Egg! I have very vague memories of my local library because it closed when I was about 6 and didn't open again until I was 18+

I remember getting Matilda from it, whether I read it or it was read to me I cannot say.
 

hugh

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For me it was a big diet of King, other horror (James Herbert ... jaysus), lots of SF, a small amount of fantasy (all the ones mentioned above).

Probably the most influential book I read as a teenager was Stephen King's book about horror - Danse Macabre. Not only did it open me up to lots of interesting writers that were somewhat out of the mainstream (Harlan Ellison, Shirley Jackson, Ray Bradbury) it also had really good stuff in it about the mechanics of horror i.e. why we are interested in it, how it works, what makes it effective. There was also some elements of sociological analysis of culture (i.e. the Exorcist was successful because it tapped into post-1960s parent's fears about their children being out of control and breaking out of conservative lifestyles etc.). Keep meaning to pick up a copy and re-read it.
 

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absolutely devoured this when i was about 13

Amazon product

Read the whole series, second 'trilogy' was great but from then it started going downhill until the last few books were basically just ringing it in. I think maybe the best books from the series are actually the stand-alone ones, he did better in specific situations when he didn't have to worry about the overall arc.
 

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i remember that i read 'brave new world' when i was a teen, and that's another book i cannot remember a thing about.
'catch 22' was one of the best books i'd ever read when i was that age, and i revisited it about ten years later and just couldn't get into it.

I think Brave New World is pretty average, the writing is good but it loses its way halfway through, think he kind of ran out of ideas with it
 

magicbastarder

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i read a couple of clive barker books in my teens too, again i thought were amazing, but can't remember what they were about, now. 'imajica' and 'the great and secret show', iirc
 

jonah

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I did TKAM and the Merchant of Venice for Junior Cert, and I believe Hamlet and Of Mice and Men for LC. The other class were reading Wuthering Heights and I was very jealous.

Generally though, I did most of my heavy lifting classics reading as a young teen. I lived with my Grand Aunt at the time, and she lived beside the library. This period (11-14ish) coincided with my sad-girl era, so I basically just went there every day and read. I did a lot of classics, though I couldn't tell you if I took them all in completely, given reading comprehension and well... just general emotional comprehension don't always match up as a tween. I did Russian classics then, too, and I definitely felt that when I read them years later it was like reading them for the first time.
 

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