- Twilight. I'll admit, I loved Twilight when it first came out, before it became everyone's favorite book and TV show. However, in hindsight and as a writer and English teacher, I can now look back and say that the writing was definitely lacking. And as an adult person, I can also look back and say that the relationship between Bella and Edward was seriously messed up. So that love didn't follow me into adulthood, which is probably a good thing.
- Harry Potter. I feel no shame at all in admitting that this was, and still is, one of my all-time favorite series. I read the first one when I was 10 (the perfect time to start reading because you can hope for that owl on your 11th birthday!) and was immediately in love. I love it even more now that I am older and able to appreciate Rowling's craft and the intricacy with which she constructed the books, including her themes and criticisms of things like educational bureaucracy.
- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The first time I heard this story, I was four and my dad was reading it to me. I read it myself when I was 10 and was home sick with strep throat, and even ended up taking a college course on C.S. Lewis and his work. While I still think it's a great story, I no longer have the love for it that I did when I was younger. As an adult reading it, it is more clearly for children, and the Christian component is more obvious. It also seems to value boys over girls (not a surprise considering the time period in which Lewis lived), but all of that together makes it more complicated for me to love. I would still recommend it as a children's book, but I don't foresee myself reading it very often in the future.
- The Lord of the Rings. I read The Hobbit for the first time when I was about 11 (and had it read to me for the first time when I was about five) and loved it both times and all the times that have followed. The Fellowship of the Ring, however, I read by myself when I was twelve and didn't fall in love with. I have to admit that I found it boring. I had seen the movie and loved it, which is why I was disappointed the first time I read the book. Unlike The Hobbit, The Fellowship of the Ring (and the rest of the series), tends to move slower and spend more time on meandering details and side-trips that don't do much to advance the plot. Now that I'm no longer twelve, I've developed the patience to read about Tom Bombadil and whatever other side-trips Frodo and his gang go on, and I like the trilogy a lot more (although Sam and Frodo walking through Mordor for chapters-on-end still irks me).
- Romeo and Juliet. The first time I read Romeo and Juliet was in high school, and I liked it well enough. It's language is hard to understand for a first time reader of Shakespeare, and it was assigned as homework, which automatically makes it less interesting, but overall I thought it was pretty good. After having taught it four times, however, my feelings for the play have really changed. The complexity and the richness of the writing I have grown to love and believe that every time I read it my own writing becomes better. As a story, however, I have come to hate it. Two teens falling in love and killing themselves in less than 72 hours is just not my idea of a good story. I'll stick to Antony and Cleopatra and Richard III when given the choice.
The wonderful people at The Broke and the Bookish have decided that this week we should all look back on books that we read when we were younger and reflect on our feelings regarding them now vs. then. I only looked at 5 today, but I think I found some pretty good ones.
Rather than talking about writing, I want to take this opportunity to go on a short rant about standardized testing and why I, like so many teachers, hate it.
While I 100% agree that we as educators need a way to assess our students, I don't think that standardized tests are the way to go.
Here are a few of the reasons I think standardized tests are horrible:
My name is J.R. McGinnity, I am a former English teacher with a passion for writing fantasy novels with strong female leads.