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Thread: Unengaging required reading

  1. #1

    Unengaging required reading

    A co-worker asked me on the way out this morning asked me how I deal with novels I have difficulty getting into. I told her I flip to any page midway into the book if the beginning is putting me to sleep, as not every writer is effective coming out of the gate, but if the book is worth reading you ought to recognize it by mid-span after a page or two, and then, hopefully engaged somewhat, go back to the beginning.

    She said at first that she kept forgetting what she'd read of a novel, later adding that this is assigned reading, something she's supposed to do a twenty page essay on.

    The novel is Diane A.S. Stuckart's Portrait Of A Lady, which she had on hand. It's a historical mystery, a genre that doesn't really appeal to me that much personally, but it didn't look too bad at first glance, the series primary hero-sleuth being Leonardo di Vinci, here, with the detecting only a tad bit more multi-talented than I've historically imagined.

    My co-worker, a back to school mom, indicated that this wasn't an every book issue, just this novel.

    Heading home, I thought that perhaps she ought to work backwards from the essay to the novel if that's what it took, generating some potential themes that might catch her fancy even if the storyline didn't.

    I'd like to hear any suggestions of how others approach a problem such as she has.

    Looking at reviews about the the story) began looking less apppealing to me the more I read, what is depicted as historical fiction reading more like historical romance the more I read.

    I hope the essay is to be double spaced, I can't see why a book like this was chosen by the instructor.

    Any words of wisdom I can pass along would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Lux et Veritas chrisg's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007

    Re: Unengaging required reading

    Hi, LC, Nice to see you around and it's very kind of you to try and brainstorm to help your co-worker. Along the lines of your idea of finding a theme that interests her, this is the author's site which has some reviews of this novel amongst others:

    Diane A.S. Stuckart - REVIEWS...

    Your co-worker could read through those reviews to find a theme that most interests her in terms of an essay topic and then read through the novel with that theme in mind. That would make probably make the read quicker since she'd be focused specifically on that goal.

    I don't get this as an academic choice either and I really rolled my eyes when I saw that Stuckart titled her novel after the great Henry James one, but I very much favor classic fiction over modern fiction anyway. I know that makes me a Lit snob but I'm cool with that. This is also the second novel in a series and it's odd not to start with the first novel in a series. In any event, hope that helps, it's really the only thing that comes to mind and builds on your good idea to find a theme that interests her.
    "Do you want to change the world?...Think Different, Be Different...Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish…Now, let’s go invent tomorrow.” – Steven Paul Jobs

  3. #3
    PWS is offline
    FORT Fogey
    Join Date
    Jul 2004

    Re: Unengaging required reading

    I wonder what kind of class it was for....a history class? A critical lit. class? A creative writing class? A class on famous gay or bi men? A how to become a successful mystery writer class? That might explain the choice of book! And it might also help her choose a theme---I agree, having some idea what the theme might be might help her get into the book.
    It might be the genre that is putting her off....my sig. other, for example, has real trouble with the "willing suspension of disbelief" that is necessary to read science fiction, even though S. O. has a lot of the technical background that many SF fans have.

  4. #4
    Kitten time! Gutmutter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Mio and Reo

    Re: Unengaging required reading

    In similar circumstances, I buy my own paperback version of the book and use a highlighter. Skim, highligh, skim, highlight... and usually end up finding myself actually reading at some point (while still highlighting). Then when you have to write the essay(s) you hit the highlights. Hope that helps.
    Count your blessings!

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