Book Riot’s From Zero to Well-Read in 100 Books: I Failed Huckleberry Finn

I love Book Riot; when they published From Zero to Well-Read in 100 Books, I felt up to the challenge.

Never mind that my TBR pile already has more than 100 books awaiting attention. I decided to read my way through this list with the only rule being I would have to re-read anything on it I haven’t opened in the past 5 years.  The list is alphabetical and I started with the first one: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Huck wasn’t part of my scholastic curriculum.  His buddy Tom made two appearances.  I thought this would be easy.  Fooled, yet again.

My first problem was the phonetically spelled dialect.  Allow me to clarify: I understand why it’s there. I do not have a problem with this technique being in existence.  I do not mind reading through it occasionally.  I simply cannot focus well enough for a main character’s dialogue to require code breaking.  By the time I get to the end of Jim’s statement, I need to go back to the beginning to remember what he started to say and why.  It’s distracting, disheartening and I closed the book after 200 pages or so.  It’s hard to love to read and have issues that prevent me from enjoying it.

Discussing my dislike of phonetics and dialects at the dinner table was a mistake. (A little background, perhaps again: I’m the only liberal arts minded person in this house.  My husband has a PhD in Applied Math; his mind is scientifically oriented.  About two years ago,  my stepson decided school is useless.  He completed high school via a part time alternative learning program and pretended to be interested in college for about a year.   He has an interest in computer science and programming but no desire (or maybe courage) to take the steps to make this interest a career.)  My roles as sole liberal arts major and perceived grammar snob took center stage over my thoughtfully prepared dinner. To explain the conversation simply, and in no way fully, my husband reminded me that “proper grammar” was arbitrarily deemed the standard by a group of white elitists and dictates who is considered educated and worthy of being included in business/society/(insert any institution here). Though I haven’t researched it,  just living in a very white society tells me he’s not wrong.  My stepson claims we have spell check, grammar check and auto-correct so we do not need to learn proper grammar. I’ll save his assessment for another post after I stop banging my head against the desk… and wall… and (insert dull, strong object here).  I made a mess of defending myself against grammatical snobbery while simultaneously reinforcing my designation. We went in circles around grammar, education, elitism, prejudgement, politics and I forget what else.

By participating in all these extra discussions, I lost my chance to explain what I meant.  My panic disorder has robbed me of the concentration to read unusually written dialogue. It’s another facet of my life I fear I’ll never get back.

My other problem is probably another post waiting in the wings. I was reading Huck when Florida declared George Zimmerman not guilty. My introspection on the state of our judicial system, perceptions and injustice sent me into a hole of depression so deep that the casualness of the N word in Huck made me cry. I still can’t gather my words well enough to discuss this well enough for posting. It’s too important to try with a scrambled brain.

I was fighting through to read Huck. I decided I can’t right. I need to pick my battles and joining Jim and him on their raft will have to wait a little longer.

I’m going to continue reading Book Riot’s list, though perhaps not in order. There are a few named that correspond to my TBR pile… and I think it’ll take me much longer than the hypothetical 4 years mentioned. I need to accept that.

Question for those who have finished Huck Finn:  Does anyone else think Huck’s entire story is just another one of his easily concocted lies?   I think he and Jim never set foot on that raft……

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4 thoughts on “Book Riot’s From Zero to Well-Read in 100 Books: I Failed Huckleberry Finn

  1. Wow!  The thought that they never set foot on the raft NEVER even occurred to me!  Having read it for both a class assignment and then again, for my own pleasure (I LOVE Twain), I am going to vote “no” and that yes, indeed, Huck and Jim had that grand adventure.  That said, I can definitely see how reading dialects and phonetically spelled dialog can send almost anyone into fits. Regarding your conversation about proper grammar and the necessity for it’s usage.  I can also see how the younger generation could find it unnecessary. I totally disagree but I can see it.  Perhaps it is a form of elitism.  If so, then I’m absolutely guilty of being an elitist.  Personally, I truly believe it is a sign of intelligence and more so, a sign that you actually give a crap about how you sound when you’re speaking.  It makes it easier to be understood.  I think the glaring lack of concern some people have in their speech is appalling.  I think it makes people sound less intelligent, and therefore less deserving of my attention. That, would go to the whole “elitist” attitude, I suppose.  Probably one of my lesser traits, I’m sure.  However, I also believe it signifies a lack of respect. Both for oneself and others.  It also speaks to the pervasive level of apathy in our society.  People just don’t care.  Which to me is a far greater crime than misspelling a word, or not using proper grammar, out of ignorance.  One can always educate oneself and learn to use the language properly, if one actually cares enough to do so. As far as the Zimmerman case goes, I will withhold further comment.  Anything I have to say, at this point, is irrelevant and will do nothing to further the debate or help put it to rest.  I have my feelings, you know what they are.  Although, I want you to know how deeply sorry I am that all of it is causing you such great distress.  I understand it completely.   Again, my dear, another thought-provoking blog post.  Well done!

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  2. I hate it when I do that; invest a fair amount of time and then just can’t finish a book. Hope the next one is more to your liking. I remember Huck Finn from high school…maybe I should revisit him huh?

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