It's not the reading, but the lack of flexibility that is a real killer. Being male, I had zero interest in The Joy Luck Club, yet I was forced to read it in 7th grade. Why couldn't I substitute this with something like Shooting An Elephant? I know they're not the same length, but the point is that both are compelling stories of individuals coming to terms with competing cultures; yet written for different audiences. But alas, I was forced to endure teenage female whining instead.
I didn't care much for Romeo and Juliet, but I adored Macbeth and Othello. Yet, the dissection just killed any fervor I had for Shakespeare. Once you get a few pages in, the old language doesn't trip you up; but having to stop every few minutes to explain some obscure imagery really kills the experience.
I really enjoyed Lord of the Flies, but I hated the discussions. No, I don't care to write an essay on the trinity symbolism of fire, Simon's fainting, and whatever the hell else was the third thing. I just want to read about boys being bad. Let me write about the more general theme of human nature instead.
And the worst part is this brainwashes people into looking for some deeper meaning where there is none. I was a great procrastinator in high school. At one point, I had to write a fictional story, which I whipped off the morning it was due. I was in rare form, and it was actual readable, although it could have benefited greatly from some editing.
The basic premise was of two burglars attempting to steal stuff from a museum. The focus was on the completely polar personalities of the characters, and was an attempt to channel Donald Westlake. My story was read out loud by the teacher, and a discussion ensued.
The other students were amazed by the imagery I invoked by calling cameras "eyes". Or the witty interplay of the two characters while haggling over the worth of a vase.
None of that was intentional, I was just trying to get a story out so I could pass the class the next hour. Which leads me to believe that we've brainwashed people to see things in writing that just aren't there; and we continue to praise the the ability weave and believe bullshit in order to make the grade.