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Reflection on you as a reader

12/14/2011

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I do not like reading. Yes, I did read like a maniac for Battle of the Books, but that is a different story (iPod makes a huge difference). It happens to me that whenever I try to read a book, I fall asleep and books gradually became a lullaby for me. The problem is I can never finish a book that bores me. For the past few years, I had a hard time catching up reading books that were assigned in English classes. Yet, AP Literature has provided me a different facet to reading literature. Before taking this class, I would understand the content and be able to discuss on the themes of the book; however, I, now grown as a better reader, can develop my own analyzation of the literature and empathize with the author of his/her purpose of writing.

In our AP Lit class, we encountered various genres of literature: short stories, novels, and poetry. Out of these three genres, what really enlightened me about reading was short stories. Short stories were as short as few pages to maximum of around 20 pages. Compared to novels, short stories are extremely condensed; however, I was amazed how short stories still have the depth like any other literature. And reading short stories has improved me as a reader the most. Normally, reading “A&P” or “The Yellow Wallpaper” wouldn’t have meant anything to me more than a story of a immature teenager and a crazy woman. But as I examined the text closely, I was able to make connections of my own to other references and develop my own critique of the short stories. For example, I was able to connect Jesus with Sammy in A&P with the help of the book How to Read Literature Like a Professor. In the process, I was not only limited to the text itself, but also outside research helped me to analyze the short story – I researched more in depth about the author and symbols of Jesus Christ. For instance, my argument gained credibility when I found out that “John Updike was a lifelong churchgoer” and that “he often incorporate[d] Christianity into his writings”. Certainly in AP Lit, I acquired the skills to analyze the text with support.

Furthermore, I can empathize with the author of his/her purpose of writing. For example, I understood the purpose of “The Yellow Wallpaper” when Oates wrote in a magazine that her directed audience was Dr. Mitchell who invented the rest cure. My paper 1 was all about how knowing the audience can clarify the seemingly random details of the short story. Moreover, in quarter two, I went further on to formulate my own opinion towards the author’s viewpoint. Mrs. Brakyo repeated the importance of not just understanding the text, but being able to put our thoughts into it and judge the piece of literature. I especially heeded to that advice when reading Frankenstein and was able to develop my own stance on the topic. In Frankenstein, Mary Shelley depicts scientific knowledge as a harm to the society. However, as I read the novel, I constantly asked myself if I really agree with what she has to say. And finally, I ended up rejecting her claim. In my Frankenstein Podcast, I state that “we should do what we can with our knowledge, because, to me, it seems like potential benefits largely outweigh possible retributions,” and I talk about the potential benefit of Victor’s knowledge can have in our society. As such, I, as a reader, can both empathize with the author and incorporate my own thought to judge the work of literature.

This class has given me a new outlook on literature as a reader. I feel like I have advanced from a reader to an analyzer and a judge. Reading is not simply “reading” to me anymore, but more like scrutinizing texts and deciding whether I agree with the author. Stumbling upon wide ranges of literature, I certainly improved as a reader and am sure I can make more improvements during second semester.

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