Saturday, February 13, 2016

Summer reading you should largely avoid

It's never too early to start thinking about summer reading, but one thing's pretty clear.  If you are a college freshman, you might get asked to read a book before you come to school, but chances are, according to the National Association of Scholars, that book is going to suck. 

Now, viewers of the Panopticon know that I am pretty far left of where NAS typically stands.  We don't see eye to eye on APUSH for example.  But when it comes to summer reading for incoming college students?  I'm right in the same pew.

Some of this is because, NAS is resigned to the fact that most of the books will have a left-wing inclusive tinge.  But most of it has to do with the fact that many of the books that are selected are bad.  Or beneath college reading level.  Or simplistic.  Or pop.  Many of them are memoirs.  They don't do much to open up discussion and they are prone to the kinds of questions one finds in the back of certain paperbacks headlined "For your book discussion group." 

We, at the Panopticon may be left wing, but we are a fan of intellectual rigor.  We are also, when on our high horse about such things, prone to use the royal we, deal with it.

One of the reasons why the readings are so bad, the report indicates, is that too many people have a say in picking the book.  The bigger the committee, the weaker and more pablum the book they choose.  Also, an author who could come speak on campus is a big plus. 

Anyway, given the way intellectual circles and the bloggerverse works, it turns out I supplied the title one of the "better" books on their list of books that schools might use instead, Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner.   

The world is a very strange place indeed, sometimes. 

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