|The Handmaid's Tale|
Finished on February 6, 2013.
As a surprise my SO put a few audio books from my Classics Club list on my iPod for the NMSI trip to Killeen, TX. The trip can take anywhere from 5 - 6 hours depending on if I stop for cupcakes at Ultimate Cupcake. I did not stop this time around (regrets), so the trip was close to 5 hours and in that time I finished listening to The Handmaid's Tale.
I was shocked at how fast the trip went and how short the book is. I think my students could easily read this for a two week assignment and the novel addresses at least half of the ontological questions we discuss in class. Here is the list of ontological questions I use. Of course I was made aware of this list through an AP conference.
For whatever reason I focused on incidents in the novel concerning bravery and cowardice. At one point, Offred considers whether or not she is brave. After all, a decision can only be brave if there is something to lose or a possible consequence. In Offred's case spying for the resistance would mean a heavy punishment, even death. This conundrum and many others faced in the novel are great for class discussion and immediate, personal connections.
I find it impossible to rate a classic based solely on my enjoyment of the plot. I've got a couple of ideas brewing for a rating system which I will detail later. For now, suffice it to say if I really like a piece then it has potential for re-reading; however, I am also reading with a lens toward workability in an AP course. In this case, I find The Handmaid's Tale is teachable. It could replace The Awakening in my syllabus because it is short but incorporates plenty of the ontological questions (not to mention there is sex which is a big seller in high school). As far as re-reading this novel, I doubt I would do so for pleasure.
Next: I'm reading Little Dorrit and I'm listening to Cold Sassy Tree.