Required reading in high school was always daunting.
My high school didn’t offer Creative Writing as an English class while I was there, which bothered me to no end. I gladly would have taken that class instead of AP English Language. I tested out of the remedial 101/102 classes when I headed off to college. I knew I would, so I felt absolutely no disappointment when I scored a two on both my AP English tests.
Out of the many books we were required to read, I enjoyed only a few. King Lear, Romeo & Juliet, Regeneration, All Quiet On The Western Front; these books I happily read. I barreled through The Great Gatsby even, but didn’t really enjoy it until choosing to read it again a decade later. Everything else, though, I don’t remember reading.
There was one book that stood out. I devoured every page and wanted the story to never finish. I cried, I smiled, I fell madly in love with the art of storytelling. The book shocked me, and it seemed to speak to me directly. I felt as though the author wrote this book specifically and solely for me.
I’m certain I was required to read this book twice in high school. Or, I was required once, and decided to reread it for an elective book for different class. Whatever the case, I happily read it again.
This is a book that I feel everyone who speaks English should read, even if English is not their native tongue. It’s a famous story, but often not fully understood. You can say the title and people immediately recognize it. But, that doesn’t mean they’ve read it. People usually think of the horror movies that take very loose liberty with the plot. To this day, especially now, I find myself having to describe the plot and talk about the incredibly obvious themes, and explain that, while entertaining, the cheesy B-List horror movies that people automatically think of are somewhat of a disgrace, as there is so much more oomph and depth and enlightenment to the actual story.
Can you guess what the book is yet? I’m sure some of you can. If you’ve taken any honors English classes in high school or are an English Literature major, well, duh. Of course you should be able to guess!
My copy from high school started to fall apart a long time ago. It kept me company when I went off to college the first time round. About six or seven years ago, I finally replaced my well worn copy. This new(er) copy remains present on my nightstand. Sometimes, it gets place on my bookshelf if I’m engrossed in other books. Whatever the case, it is within reach. I have periods in my life that seem heavier, darker, and more introspective. This is when I really yearn for this book. I always want to get lost in the story, hoping to find a different answer or clue. I know that whilst getting lost in the words, I’ll come through the experience renewed and hopeful. People have often questioned why. There isn’t a concrete explanation as to why. I just know that the themes of loss & yearning, motherhood (creation, compassion), consciousness, free will, and good v. evil speak volumes to my soul. You have a man playing God, and let’s be real, he’s not very successful. We have a champion, a hero in this story, and it’s certainly not the man playing God. At least, I don’t find him to be any kind of hero. I hope that those of you who’ve read this book agree with me, or can, at least, understand where I am coming from.
If you haven’t guessed the book by now, shame on you! No, I kid. You don’t have to know what it is.
The one book that I keep coming back to is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Holy hell, this book is phenomenal. It cranks my gears. It makes me happy. It inspires me to read and write and create. For me, Frankenstein is one of those stories that stands the test of time. It touches on humanity in such a way that, even in our tech savvy times, we can all pick a theme or three from it, and acknowledge them within ourselves.
Seriously, though, if you haven’t read it already, go read it as soon as possible. Take your time with it. Digest it. Let the words dance around your mind. Then, go give your loved ones a hug.