Once upon a time, there was a girl who was raised as the daughter of a fundamentalist Southern Indiana Pentecostal preacher, who spent at least as much time in scary little fundamentalist schools as she did in public school--actually, a fair bit more, come to add it up. She was assigned lots of readings describing an Earth that is only 6,000 years old, "proving" that dinosaurs and human beings once co-existed, and discussing how Noah's Ark is still stranded on a mountain in Turkey, but the mean Turkish government won't let a bunch of Americans climb around all over their mountain and prove it. Curiously absent from the girl's reading were books written for children throughout the history of the English-speaking world, as well as classics not written for children that are usually assigned in school to teach students to stretch their minds and their critical thinking skills. Not a single Shakespearean play, narry a mention of modern authors like Kafka or Virginia Woolf, none of the childhood favorites by Frances Hodgson Burnett managed to slip through the net of censorship cast around the girl's plastic young mind.
Some of these gaps were filled in when the young woman finally decided to attend a state-sponsored, liberal arts university. By the time she finished her BA and three MAs, she'd read more Poe, more "Norton Anthologies," more about Yellow Wallpaper than she ever wanted to, really. Nevertheless, the now 35-year-old book blogger is still finding books all the time about which her peers say, "Oh, yeah, I read that in high school!" And in this season when a book blogger's fancy turns to thoughts of next year's reading challenges, this particular blogger is hoping to form a cooperative challenge with the help of her loyal readers. Are you willing to help me in a "Re-Education Challenge"?
1. You don't have to have a blog to challenge me; you just need to visit this blog and leave comments relating to my "Re-Education."
2. Since this is supposed to be about exposing me to ideas that I should have encountered a long time ago, let's please restrict this to books that any well-educated American should have read before graduating high school. In other words, if you cannot imagine HOW I've survived this long without reading 50 Shades of Grey, I'm sorry, but you still can't recommend it. Any teacher who required his or her students to read a book about S&M would get quickly fired, and we all know it. Still, I think this leaves you with a lot of leeway, anything from standard YA to Dickensian favorites.
3. If by some miracle I already managed to read the book you suggest somewhere along the way, I won't be adding it to the challenge, because that would basically be me cheating, now wouldn't it?
4. Limit 5 suggestions per contributor, please. I'm setting the cut-off at 100 books, as I know I could never get through more than that in 2013.
5. I reserve the right to reject anything that would simply give me too many nightmares, like Stephen King's It, which I have always known myself too well to ever try to read. (Surely that wouldn't really fit the qualifications, anyway.)
So, come help out a poor, deprived, recovering fundamentalist and add your suggestions. The suggestion box is open through December 31, 2012, after which I will gather the titles, weed through duplicates and ones I've already read, and announce the master list in a post. You're welcome to read along, if you like, and leave us links to your own posts! Meanwhile, I will update the list periodically, with reviews, as I plow my way through.