This article is a bit silly — I mean, the title is actually “What Ivy-League Students are Reading That You Aren’t”, which strikes me as, well, silly. I mean, does the author — Christopher Ingraham — mean that “we” aren’t reading those books NOW? Because whether or not we read them in college, there’s no special reason to expect us to be reading them again right this minute, is there?
Also, when he looks at “all books assigned,” he includes . . . textbooks! Like Campbell’s BIOLOGY. That’s *really* silly.
But I like this one bit where the article checks out the books that are most assigned in actual English classes. Here Ingraham compares the books most assigned overall to the ones most assigned by the Ivies. That’s at least mildly interesting, don’t you think? So here:
Heart of Darkness
The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock
The Yellow Wallpaper
Young Goodman Brown
That actually strikes me as a pretty good list! I don’t think “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a novel, though. Isn’t that a short story? Creepy? A woman is going insane? Pretty sure I’m remembering the right story.
Interestingly, I’ve read (at least parts of) everything above The Love Song of J. AP. Below that, only “The Yellow Wallpaper.” I’ve never even heard of Young Goodman Brown.
Overall, though, I’d say this list is reassuring considering we keep hearing that today’s college freshmen are reading on something like the seventh grade level.
To compare, here’s the list from the Ivies:
The Faerie Queen
The Spanish Trilogy
Heart of Darkness
Jude the Obscure
Persuasion! That’s good to see. The non-Ivy students are missing out if they never read Austen. And the Ivies get to read a comedy as well as a tragedy, lucky them. Still, reasonable overlap, I’d say. Again it seems peculiar to include one of these works — “The Spanish Trilogy” is a poem, not a novel — I mean, a relatively short poem, not like The Faerie Queen or whatever — so I really don’t think the criteria for these lists were sufficiently strict.
Although I’m pretty sure I’ve read Frankenstein, I’m almost totally sure it wasn’t assigned in school. Did any of you have Frankenstein actually assigned?
I’ve read eight works from those two lists combined, which is about half of the fifteen works total.
I’d never heard of three of these works: Young Goodman Brown, The Awakening, and the Spanish Trilogy.
I actually enjoyed three of these works: The Canterbury Tales (we only read bits of this), Persuasion, and Twelfth Night.
I loathed one of these: Heart of Darkness.
How about you, these lists spark any fond or loathsome memories?