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November 23rd, 2004, 06:27 PM
I have noticed most required books in schools have very boring beginnings.
To me it would seem they should have a catchy beginning to be required.
Does anyone else have a thought or answer for this?

November 23rd, 2004, 06:42 PM
Yeah the "hook" is pretty important. I would say that most of those books would have a hook but it would not be aimed at us and therefore mightnt necessarily get it. I know most of the books I had to study in school I didnt like. Jane Eyre etc.

Rocket Sheep
November 23rd, 2004, 07:10 PM
I think education boards like students to read classic books or books that make a social commentary on a time in history or get them to think (it was good to see Blade Runner selected in Australia a few years ago as the final year at highschool book).

Often these are books written for people not from the "entertain me" generation and concentrate more on mood and scene setting than wild hooks and movie style action openings like books written today.

It may be your only taste of literature before you return to the folds of genre and pulp fiction, try to examine it thoroughly... of course... that's a lot easier if you get Blade Runner than Jane Eyre.

November 23rd, 2004, 08:28 PM
Yes, I hate most of our required readers...........

Rocket Sheep
November 23rd, 2004, 08:50 PM
Readers are people.

Sorry... educational lingo reflex...

November 23rd, 2004, 09:37 PM
Don't scare me!

I am going for a degree in English with an emphasis on literature!

Good thing is that next semester I have British sensation fiction... that should be a bit of fun. :cool:

November 24th, 2004, 01:08 AM
Like they said, a book you read in an english class is read for many reason - entertainment is not one of them. Usually, there is a social commentary. Sometimes, it's a style of writing that they are getting out.

Keep in mind that you aren't reading what you want, so what may be a catchy beginning to some is complete and utter garbage to someone else, but then again there are plenty of books where I went, "Wow, this is complete and total garbage," when I read it but I was still remembering elements of the story because they were good years later. And then of course there are the, what I like to call, "generic" works like Wizard of Earthsea where they follow stereotypes of Carl Jung's archetypes so closely that it is an illustration on the lesson...

And then of course also keep in mind that a "catch" is all part of the art. If you are in a dull and mundane world then the beginning sets this up by being dull and mundane, not everything is based in action. Ok I am done for now.

November 24th, 2004, 11:46 AM
Hmmm... going to disagree here. Some of the greatest beginnings in literature are in those required readings:

The first
It was a pleasure to burn. It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed.

and another
If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you will probobly want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I dont feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.

and the best
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way- in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of the noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

You tell me how many modern fantasy authors can spin such a fine hook. You should recognize those, as they are all from the common required readings for an average high school student. Most authors simply jump in with a descriptive sentance, a bland character indrocution, or a worldbuilding statement in fantasy (don't mistake me, I love fantasy), but they don't capture the reader the way the above beginnings do. Not even close.

November 24th, 2004, 12:18 PM
I've started reading a few classics lately, and one thing that I find is that there is a lot more in them for a more mature mind. I hated Wuthering Heights in high school, but it's on my 'to read' list again. I think now that I have a little more life experience, the kind of stuff the old authors were talking about makes a lot more sense now.

As others have pointed out, the classics were written before the days of TV, the internet, and flash commercialism. People back in the day had more time (in some ways at least - please don't bring up those 16 hour work days on the farm) and longer attention spans. You could go on for three pages about what it was like to travel along the Rhine River because most of your readers had never been there, nor could they find pictures of it, or look it up on the internet. The authors words were all they had to get there.

With respect to hooks at the beginning, I have also found that there are a lot of classics where you don't feel the impact of what happens in the beginning until you get about half way through.

In some ways I wonder if books in general are soon going to revert back to less flash at some point. The written word can't compete with Hollywood blockbuster trailers and TV promos as far as an assault on one's attention. But what they can offer is an chance to engage the reader intellectually - which is very limited in the span of a one hour time slot less commercials.

Subzero1992, it's good that you're able to see exactly what it is about the required readings that you don't like. Challenge your teachers on this. It's the first step towards critical thinking.

November 24th, 2004, 12:26 PM
Choppy makes a good point (and a sad one). We are a culture of video tape and big picture mega hits with special effects to wow the eye. The magic of describing a common thing may be lost on most of us today. The writers of the past, as you state, had to create the picture of what a place was like, they could not say 'the rhine river' and have us all pull up a thousand mental images as supplied by the internet, the movies, tv, etc. People craved the experience of 'seeing' something new, and writing was the only way for 99% of them.
Personally, I like that mental image... it is has more emotional attachment that they quick video flash...