On the first day, I made an assignment to the class. Over the course of ten weeks, they needed to each read a novel and write a review of it—whatever word count they wanted. Each student would read their review to the rest of the students on the last day of class. There was an outpouring of concern.
“We have to read an entire novel?”
“I don’t know what to read.”
“We have to read a long book?”
I think you get the idea and maybe you’re thinking this class of 20 students was kids. Nope. They were all adults, adults that had signed up for the class. Frankly, I was shocked.
I suggested if this was truly their concern, they could read a short novel—something like “The Comfort of Strangers” by Ian McEwan. I consider it a very good read, only 10 chapters and a page count of 127. A novella really.
Come the last day of the class, it was time for the students to read their reviews. Out of the 20 students, half of them picked “The Comfort of Strangers” to read and write about.
As I listened to each student read their reviews, I kept my mouth shut but I was thinking plenty.
If you’re reading a good novel, the page count shouldn’t matter. If you sign up for a writing class, you should be a person who wants to read also. Reading makes you a better writer. If you’re a writer who’s aware that you need to also read, you shouldn’t need someone like me to tell you what book to pick out. You shouldn’t be a sheep.
I should have said those words to those students. If I was teaching that class today, I would.
(Image from dolcebellezza.net)