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Thread: Reading Books

  1. #1

    Reading Books

    I'm just wondering if anyone here besides me thinks that one can read a book (literature or fiction type) and learn absolutely nothing from it?

    For example, in one of my literature courses that I'm required to take, I had to write a paper on what I learned about war after reading five fiction books (all books were anti-war as well). I wrote in the paper that these books taught me absolutely nothing about war, because 1) they were fiction and 2) they were all writen by authors who have never even been in a war. My conclusion to the paper was that the only way to learn about war was to either go to war yourself or talk to alot of soldiers who have been part of a war.

    The professor failed me on the paper because he things I'm too narrow minded and just out of line. Am I?

    I feel I wrote a decent paper defending why I didn't learn anything about war, but the professor is telling me that doesn't matter because I should have learned something.

  2. #2
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    Re: Reading Books

    That's screwed up, but I read a novel called Neuromancer by William Gibson and was told to relate the book to present day Earth. It had people with bionic eyes and implants behind their ears that would allow one to instantly learn something. Like the Matrix or something. It was dumb, but since I'm a pretty good writer I made up some nice-sounding stuff and got a B. The book was nothing but a TV show that you had to read.
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  3. #3

    Re: Reading Books

    Quote Originally Posted by yanksconstantino24
    I'm just wondering if anyone here besides me thinks that one can read a book (literature or fiction type) and learn absolutely nothing from it?
    Well, if you view the Bible as literature...... I nominate Pat Robertson.

  4. #4

    Re: Reading Books

    Quote Originally Posted by fredgmuggs
    Well, if you view the Bible as literature...... I nominate Pat Robertson.
    Whose Pat Robertson?

    And I don't think the Bible is literature.

  5. #5

    Re: Reading Books

    Quote Originally Posted by yanksconstantino24
    Whose Pat Robertson?

    And I don't think the Bible is literature.
    Pat Robertson is a christian right television political activist... you can find a whole thread on his latest doings over on this forum http://forums.nyyfans.com/showthread.php?t=92290

    Many don't view the Bible as literature... they see it as a religious doctrine only, which is a shame in my opinion. I believe to fully appreciate the Bible you need to approach it from a literary context to understand the realities it portrays. I don't want to turn this into a Biblical discussion so I'll end with that. Sorry if I made you uncomfortable.

    edit: spelling
    Last edited by fredgmuggs; 01-06-06 at 08:28 PM.

  6. #6

    Re: Reading Books

    Quote Originally Posted by fredgmuggs
    Pat Robertson is a christian right television political activist.. you can find a whole thread on his latest doings over on this forum http://forums.nyyfans.com/showthread.php?t=92290

    Many don't view the Bible as literature... they see it as a religious doctrine only which is a shame in my opinion. I believe to fully appreciate the Bible you need to approach it from a litery context to understand the realities it portrays. I don't want to turn this into a Biblical discussion so I'll end with that. Sorry if I made you uncomfortable.
    Thanks. You didn't make me uncomfortable at all.

  7. #7
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    Re: Reading Books

    I've read (or attempted to read) many books throughout high school that I've gotten nothing out of them... other than that I really am not a fan of English Lit. The Greek epics were the worst - I fell asleep reading the same couple pages over and over again and saying "huh?"

    As for your paper, while I don't agree with your point of view, if you had sufficient evidence to support your argument, you ought to be able to argue with your prof for a better grade.
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  8. #8
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    Re: Reading Books

    What five books did you read?

  9. #9

    Re: Reading Books

    Quote Originally Posted by Coney36
    I've read (or attempted to read) many books throughout high school that I've gotten nothing out of them... other than that I really am not a fan of English Lit. The Greek epics were the worst - I fell asleep reading the same couple pages over and over again and saying "huh?"

    As for your paper, while I don't agree with your point of view, if you had sufficient evidence to support your argument, you ought to be able to argue with your prof for a better grade.
    Thats what I though. Its really not about whether or not the professor agrees with my viewpoint, its about the way I defended it.

  10. #10
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    Re: Reading Books

    Quote Originally Posted by DontHateOnNumber2
    That's screwed up, but I read a novel called Neuromancer by William Gibson...
    That book is *considered* to be a classic, and is even on some Top 100 novel lists. That said, I couldn't get past about 30 pages. It did nothing for me.

    I have read some of his later work, and enjoyed it.
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  11. #11
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    Re: Reading Books

    Is it possible? Sure. Is it probable? Not likely. Even if you don't realize it, you've probably learnt something. A new word, new sentence construction, a new phrase, some insight. We retain a lot of what we see and/or read, even if it is subconsciously.

  12. #12

    Re: Reading Books

    Quote Originally Posted by gdn
    Is it possible? Sure. Is it probable? Not likely. Even if you don't realize it, you've probably learnt something. A new word, new sentence construction, a new phrase, some insight. We retain a lot of what we see and/or read, even if it is subconsciously.
    100% correct. Subliminal processing is a powerful thing indeed.

  13. #13
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    Re: Reading Books

    I read four Hemingway books as part of a paper I had to write (and revise) in tenth grade. The only thing I learned from them is that he sucks.
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  14. #14
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    Re: Reading Books

    Quote Originally Posted by penguin4
    I read four Hemingway books as part of a paper I had to write (and revise) in tenth grade. The only thing I learned from them is that he sucks.
    He certainly sucked a shotgun! OUCH!
    ....

  15. #15
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    Re: Reading Books

    Quote Originally Posted by #1PaFan
    He certainly sucked a shotgun! OUCH!


    One of my friends in high school said that he killed himself because he was forced to read his own work.
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  16. #16
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    Re: Reading Books

    Hemmingway can be tough because he's so dry and deliberate. I find him interesting from a structure of writing point of view, but the pulse of his storys can be nearly inpalpalble at times.

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  17. #17
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    Re: Reading Books

    Quote Originally Posted by yanksconstantino24
    The professor failed me on the paper because he things I'm too narrow minded and just out of line. Am I?
    Narrow minded, yes, out of line, no. I don't know what books you read, but I do know that a person doesn't have to actually experience something for themselves or interview 100 people who have to have some understanding of the issue. For instance, I've never been a drug addict, given birth, or had a major illness, nor have I ever interviewed anyone about them, but I can speak with more than just a passing knowlegde about all three things.
    Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds - Robert Nesta Marley

  18. #18

    Re: Reading Books

    I've had classes where we were forced to read articles or whatnot that the teacher thought were socially relevant and they were such wastes, yeah I got marked down because I need to "broaden my horizons." Whatever, teachers like that always made the evaluations at the end of the semester a lot more fun.

  19. #19

    Re: Reading Books

    Quote Originally Posted by DontHateOnNumber2
    That's screwed up, but I read a novel called Neuromancer by William Gibson and was told to relate the book to present day Earth. It had people with bionic eyes and implants behind their ears that would allow one to instantly learn something. Like the Matrix or something. It was dumb, but since I'm a pretty good writer I made up some nice-sounding stuff and got a B. The book was nothing but a TV show that you had to read.
    You read Neuromancer for a class. Wow, I wish I had that kind of class when I was back in school.
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  20. #20

    Re: Reading Books

    Quote Originally Posted by yankeebot
    What five books did you read?
    The Red Badge of Courage (Stephen Crane), Johnny Got His Gun (Dalton Trumbo), Catch 22 (Joseph Heller), A Farewell to Arms (Ernest Hemingway), and The Things They Carried (Tim O'Brien)

  21. #21

    Re: Reading Books

    Quote Originally Posted by yanksconstantino24
    I'm just wondering if anyone here besides me thinks that one can read a book (literature or fiction type) and learn absolutely nothing from it?

    For example, in one of my literature courses that I'm required to take, I had to write a paper on what I learned about war after reading five fiction books (all books were anti-war as well). I wrote in the paper that these books taught me absolutely nothing about war, because 1) they were fiction and 2) they were all writen by authors who have never even been in a war. My conclusion to the paper was that the only way to learn about war was to either go to war yourself or talk to alot of soldiers who have been part of a war.

    The professor failed me on the paper because he things I'm too narrow minded and just out of line. Am I?

    I feel I wrote a decent paper defending why I didn't learn anything about war, but the professor is telling me that doesn't matter because I should have learned something.
    Quote Originally Posted by yanksconstantino24
    The Red Badge of Courage (Stephen Crane), Johnny Got His Gun (Dalton Trumbo), Catch 22 (Joseph Heller), A Farewell to Arms (Ernest Hemingway), and The Things They Carried (Tim O'Brien)
    Well, your thesis was flawed anyway. Heller fought in WWII, and Hemingway didn't serve but was on the front lines in the ambulance corps. And Crane's book was based on extensive interviews with veterans of the civil war. Sorry, but I would have failed you as well

  22. #22
    A new year, a new era penguin4's Avatar
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    Re: Reading Books

    I saw Tom Wolfe speak recently, and he said that Stephen Crane was probably one of the best storytellers in depicting reality the way it is. The guy wrote a fictionalized account of the plight of the homeless and researched it by voluntarily living on the streets, for crying out loud. No, he didn't serve in a war, but The Red Badge of Courage was so dead-on accurate newspapers all over the country were clamoring for his services. I trust him.

    Plus Tim O'Brien served in Vietnam and Joseph Heller was in the air force in WWII. (Not to mention I read the first few chapters of Catch 22 while visiting a friend and it was damn good!)

    I still support my previous statement, that it is possible sometimes, but in this case I think you're missing something huge here.
    "You aint my b!tch, n!gga! Buy your own damn fries!" -- Barack Obama

  23. #23
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    Re: Reading Books

    Jesus, are you kidding me? Catch-22 was written by a former member of the airforce who knew the inner workings quite well, O'Brien was in Vietnam--at least I believe that to be true--and Hemmingway was involved in a certain capacity in Italy in World War I. Be that as it may, you should have been able to learn something about the human condition and war through reading these books. Perhaps something about writing as well. Catch-22 happens to be one of the best books that I have ever read...bar-none.

    Plus, considering there is an entire field devoted to literature, you're never going to convince you're professor that you got nothing out of it. You are essentially telling him that he doesn't deserve his or her livlihood, which is not only insulting, but somethign he is going to argue (and probably fail you for) everytime.

  24. #24
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    Re: Reading Books

    Quote Originally Posted by yanksconstantino24
    The Red Badge of Courage (Stephen Crane), Johnny Got His Gun (Dalton Trumbo), Catch 22 (Joseph Heller), A Farewell to Arms (Ernest Hemingway), and The Things They Carried (Tim O'Brien)

    Wait, you read those books and you couldn't write about what you learned about war? Those books aren't describing flambe techniques.

    If I was your professor, I would have failed you too. You missed the point of the assignment. There are more ways to learn about war and the horrors therein than just talking to people who were there.

  25. #25

    Re: Reading Books

    Just to voice my opinion, but I did not like The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien. What is true in that book and what is not? It seems every time he makes a statement, he says "That never really happened, but that's what war does to you" in the next chapter. I don't know what happened and what didn't because he spent so long telling you that some of the stuff in the book didn't happen because he doesn't know if he did.

    Did he kill a man or did he not? Everytime he said he did, he just denies it. It annoys me so much because I never knew what was actually true in that book.

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