I have a confession to make. It is embarrassing and probably heretical considering that I graduated with a degree in English.
I didn't like The Odyssey.
It's actually embarrassing that I hadn't read it until I had to teach it, but I found myself quite underwhelmed by the entire story. I thought Odysseus was full of it and that the majority of characters had mostly a symbolic function that sort of killed any personality they might have.
I know it's an important read because there are so many allusions to it, but everything that alludes to it is way better than the actual epic poem.
My class also had to read the entire thing, which in my opinion is totally pointless since the first four books are entirely expository and really, why make kids read that? If it was up to me, we would have done some excerpts so that we actually had time to talk about the book a little bit. The length necessitated far more in-class reading time than I am comfortable with.
It's sort of depressing teaching something you don't really like much at all. It was less depressing when the book was easier to get through (Little Brother). At least then I didn't have to devote as much time to a book I disliked.
However, I really enjoyed teaching Julius Caesar. I feel like my class connected with the characters and themes a lot more. (High schoolers relating to people stabbing each other in the back? Shocking.) The characters are complex, flawed, and interesting. You can actually talk about them. There was a point where I couldn't think of anything left to say about Odysseus.
Anyway, teaching both at the same time was kind of interesting for me to see what I like teaching. I became an English teacher (well, I'm student teaching anyway) because I loved literature and I knew I would like to talk about it and share that with students. I did not expect how involved I would become with the literature in this entirely different way. Teaching literature is a whole different kind of romance than reading it and I have to say, it's actually kind of hard to feign enthusiasm for a book you don't particularly like.
At least I can appreciate The Odyssey. I thought Little Brother was completely retarded.