The Reread Project, 2018


Two years ago, I declared my intention to re-read classic books I’d hated as a child or teenager and see if I’d changed my mind. Unfortunately, this project didn’t get very far at the time: I only re-read one book, Harper Lee’s To Kill A MockingbirdTherefore, I’m going to try again in 2018, starting with these five titles:

  1. Alice Walker, The Color Purple
  2. Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights
  3. Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
  4. Thomas Hardy, Tess of the d’Urbervilles
  5. David Almond, Skellig

It’s interesting to note that two of these titles (Walker and Hardy) were books that I studied for English Literature A Level, and another two (Bronte and Atwood) were books that were often set for A Level at the time I was studying, and hence books that I felt I ought to have read. Similarly, Almond, which I read at a much younger age, was forced upon me because it had won the Whitbread Children’s Book of the Year and the Carnegie Medal for 1998. It is now considered a children’s classic.

Did you love or hate any of these books as a child or teenager? Have you re-read them since?


26 thoughts on “The Reread Project, 2018

  1. I read #1-4 between about ages 18 and 22. Although I love Tess, I can’t say I was too fussed about the others. Wuthering Heights is definitely my least favourite of the Bronte works I’ve read, and I didn’t think Handmaid’s Tale was anything special. It would be interesting to see if I appreciated them more after more than a decade has passed.

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    • I think my rage at The Color Purple and Tess in particular was due to having to study them and the way I was taught – though I think the chances of me appreciating Tess more now are low. (My favourite Hardy is Far From the Madding Crowd; I like him better when he’s less doom ridden).


  2. I’ve never read 1 or 2! I didn’t read Tess or Skellig until the late noughties, so fairly recent in the scheme of things. I’ve long been meaning to revisit The Handmaid’s Tale though, I read it first in my mid-20s I think, so definitely one to re-read.

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      • At my progressive school in the 1970s, we didn’t do English Lit O-Level so I didn’t read a lot of the canon at that time, so I escaped the Brontes (except for Jane Eyre).

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        • Love the lack of classics at the progressive school! I’m not anti the Brontes in general, I liked Jane Eyre and loved Villette, but I felt similarly to Rebecca about Withering Heights when I first read it.


          • We did read a lot incl Shakespeare, GB Shaw, etc etc, but weren’t spoiled by having to close read and do essays! I got my love of SF during this period.


  3. We did read lots, incl Shakespeare during our O-level yrs – but didn’t have to close read passages and write exam essays. I did read Jane Eyre in Y7 though… I can’t really remember it (another one for a re-read perhaps?)

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    • It sounds great. My GCSE and English A Levels were very much focused on single texts – so we read very few novels, and ruined what we did read. The model worked better for historical texts that needed closer study, e.g. Shakespeare, Webster, some metaphysical poetry.


  4. I’ve read 1-4, though Skellig seems to have escaped me (I’m told it’s excellent). Have always loved Hardy no matter how much doom there is, and Tess is one of my favourites! Wuthering Heights has never been the sort of thing I consider romantic, but I like how bonkers and violent it is, and studying it was very satisfying because it’s got this marvelous symmetrical structure, which makes the whole thing seem more tragic because you can track the patterns of bad decisions in every generation of the families it follows. The Handmaid’s Tale and The Colour Purple just kind of washed over me; I don’t remember disliking them, but they haven’t left a very strong impression.

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    • The structural stuff is something I think I will appreciate more in my re-read of Wuthering Heights. Skellig is a funny one as, even if I absolutely love it as an adult, it obviously didn’t work for me when I was part of the target audience and I remember thinking as a child that it was ‘one of those books that adults think children ought to like’, which sparked much of my anger!


      • Ahhh yes, I well remember those. (There were quite a few books, mostly school stories, that I was supposed to like and never really warmed to. For my mum’s sake, I really wish I’d enjoyed The Chalet School series, but did not. At least her introduction of Ballet Shoes was a massive winner.)


      • Gawd no it’s awful!! Every one of the characters is both appalling and dull (and, in the case of Ethan and Mattie, more than usually stupid. Though I suppose it was a salutary warning against attempting dramatic but unreliable forms of suicide.)


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  8. I don’t want to be that person, but . . . . . THE COLOR PURPLE! FOR SHAME! Then again, I get why you wouldn’t like it as a teen. There is a lot of black history that provides context for why this novel is so powerful. A lot of African American novels are like: really situated in the time period.


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