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Five 'messed-up' books children should read - Curt Yeomans

What would a child be, if he or she did not know Shakespeare? Or Dickens? Or Poe?

What would the youth be, if told he or she could not read something because it was too controversial for young minds?

Well, the child could wind up intellectually devoid of any original thought. Basically, a wandering zombie, whose thoughts are shaped by video games, the Disney Channel and "American Idol," otherwise known as the true Axis of Evil.

During a trip to a Border's Bookstore in Cobb County last weekend, I was asked if I wanted to purchase a book for a local school, and I said, "yes."

My literary choice for some unwitting youth -- Emily Brontë's "Wuthering Heights," mostly because Brontë had to have been seriously messed up when she wrote that novel. If I had to suffer through this book, which included demented obsession, desired incest and implied necrophelia, when I was in high school, then some other student should experience the same fate as well.

It got me thinking, though. What are some other books that a child should read before they turn 18?

Well, lucky for you, I made a short list with some of my recommendations.

First, I would recommend "Lysistrata." This ancient Greek comedy classic written by Aristophanes in 411 B.C. Especially when your college world literature professor decides every reference to underwear should be replaced with the phrase "Victoria's Secrets." You see, "Lysistrata" is actually a war story, from a woman's point of view.

All of the men go off to fight in the Peloponnesian War, but Lysistrata opposes the war. She wants to stop the war, so she enlists the women of Sparta, Boeotia and Corinth in a little war of their own -- they withhold sex from the men until the males agree to end the war. Yeah, it is raunchy, extremely raunchy, but we are fighting a war in Iraq, so should we not let children read all pieces of work that deal with war?

The next book I would recommend is F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby." East Egg! West Egg! This book has the honor of being a literary staple in schools. Why not? It has it all. Let us see here, this novel has adultery; an air-headed blonde bimbo; a giant pair of eyes; a dimwitted mechanic who is probably the only person who can't figure out his wife is cheating on him, and an eccentric rich guy. No one is normal in this novel. Everyone is some kind of flawed freak, even Nick, whose crime is that he is boring. Oh yeah, it is set in the Roaring Twenties, so there are flappers galore.

Third, I would recommend Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." This is where we get the phrase "an albatross around his neck." Honestly, I had never heard of an albatross before I read this. Now, this is all I associate the bird with. Honestly, this will teach you to not kill animals for no reason at all. If you do, the deceased animal will come back and wrap itself around your neck, where it will stay FOREVER!

Fourth, I would recommend Thomas Hardy's "The Return of the Native," mainly because this book always makes me think of my British Literature teacher from high school telling our class "Oh, come on. You don't really think he only wanted to hold her hand for an hour, do you?" after we watched the movie version of this book.

Finally, I would recommend "Wuthering Heights." For an explanation, go to the top of this column.

Curt Yeomans covers education for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 247 or via e-mail at cyeomans@news-daily.com.