More comedy! That’s what should be on high school/college “required reading” lists!
I’m being serious though. So many academics and educators seem to ignore comedy, as if it were some lesser form of writing. If you want proof, just look at a) the reading lists currently existing at most schools/colleges/universities, and b) what books win all the big, prestigious awards – it’s rarely something funny (even if it claims it’s funny on the back of the book, it’s often only funny to those who gave it the award).
This, I think, is a major problem, because comedy doesn’t even get a look in at the moment. Yet, as many of you know, through my slight obsessiveness with comedy in all forms, I have read many books which are either just really funny books (such as anything by Douglas Adams) or books actually written by comedians (which can be hilarious, such as The Road to Mars by Eric Idle (of Monty Python fame) and Preincarnate by Shaun Micallef, or can be serious and thought provoking like Steve Martin’s An Object of Beauty and Michael Palin’s The Truth).
Comedians on the whole are not these ridiculous silly people who they appear to be when performing, and most people know this deep down. To be funny requires an incredible amount of creativity, of wit and wordplay, and quite often a darker side to their curiosity and general pondering. All these attributes surely would make for good writing, would they not? In my experience they really do – I’ve in fact made a point of collecting books by comedians as I find them particularly entertaining and interesting.
Last but not least, if we pick the comedy appropriately so that each age group would actually get the humour in the books, then surely this would make the reading so much more engaging for the next generations who, on the whole, seem to be reading less and less. If there’s one thing I think education on the whole is getting wrong, it’s the book choices we give most students – all we’re doing is putting them off reading entirely, which is a horrible thing in itself.
We should be encouraging reading, so let’s give the young ones something good and funny to read and it won’t feel like a chore to them! They might even learn a thing or two!
What are your thoughts? What book or books should we be adding to reading lists for young students? Do you agree with my thoughts, and why or why not?