As you can probably guess, being an English major requires A LOT of reading. In my college career, I have read everything from Beowulf to Shakespeare. And some of the readings I do are definitely better than others.
In order for college students to be engaged and love what they read about, the book absolutely has to be interesting in some kind of way. Novels that are interesting to read don't necessarily have to be enjoyable. In fact, I really enjoy reading things that offer a new perspective from what I am used to.
If I have to read, comprehend, and get graded on a book, it makes my life so much easier if the content is enjoyable.
Some of my least favorite things I have been assigned to read from my classes are older works that are regarded as standard "literature." The word "literature" is so ambiguous; what is literature? What is not?
My least enjoyable classes with assigned readings are classes like British Literature and American Literature. I understand the importance of these classes, but I can't seem to find that type of literature enjoyable.
I think the main reason why this literature doesn't stick with me is that it's too predictable. These books have a certain kind of structure that is found all throughout the time period in which it was written. All of the written work from that particular time kind of runs together in my head. None of it holds my interest for very long.
On the other hand, some of the most interesting things I have read from my classes seem to come from my nonliterary classes. I took a Women's Studies class a few semesters ago and we read a studied about modern women who wrote about their experiences. Each and every one of these stories was unique, thought-provoking, and offered new perspectives.
One of my favorite books I read in this class was the memoir "Fun Home." Not only did this book discuss important issues, but it was also displayed and formatted in the form of a graphic novel. The pages had panels separating two different instances on the page. This novel kept me engaged from start to finish.
I understand the reason why we as English majors are always assigned so-called "classics." But it is just as important that we read about and discuss writers who are currently creating literature about the times and experiences that relate directly to today's society.