It's currently the third day of the new semester for me and I have spent all day (from noon-four) reading for the two history classes I have this semester. Now, I love reading. I have a blog and a couple hundred books to prove it, but I did not love spending four hours reading from history textbooks. (Just a little bit of info for those about to start college: all of my history classes have required about four times more reading than any literature class I have ever taken). So this got me thinking about when reading is fun and when it's not, and how it can be both to someone whom normally loves doing it. Do you find this to be true in your life? Does this happen with other hobbies and interests in your life besides reading? I would love to hear your thoughts.
For me, reading is fun when I am choosing when and what I am reading, and when what I'm reading has a voice, or maybe even a personality. Therefore, text books are not fun. I would gladly read twenty well-written nonfiction novels over one chapter of a history textbook. I can't stand the information overload, and I feel like I come away from the chapter with no new knowledge because I was zoned out for half of that chapter, or there was too much information so I didn't retain any of it. Do I find all times and subjects in history absolutely riveting? Absolutely not! Would I love to pick a few era or events in history and dig into them really deeply instead of mashing together 1,00 years of world history into fifteen weeks? You betcha.
Of course I can still enjoy a required piece of reading just as much as I would enjoy one that I picked out myself, but these are of course always novels or short stories of some sort. Some of my favorite pieces of literature were introduced to me by the beast that is required reading.
So even though I love both history and reading, reading history textbooks and in some cases primary sources is absolutely tortuous at times, and I totally understand why some people absolutely hate the subject of history. If I ever get the chance to teach a history class, I would love to add an independent study element to my class where students pick a time period and subject within that time period and just go to town researching and reading non-fiction about it.
I would love to hear your thoughts and your experiences with history classes, and fun and not fun reading. I'd also love to hear some tips you have for getting through tortuous required reading and retaining information from it.