dropping a novel late in the semester in a literature course?

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crowie:
It's been a long semester, with a lot of cases of cold, flu and norovirus on this small, residential campus.  We have just over four weeks to go before exam week.  My students are exhausted.  Due to issues going on in my family's life and with my own health, I am exhausted.  My students have three more novels to read in the next four weeks.  I've assigned novels that I have taught before with success (though in 20/20 hindsight, more often to majors than non-majors, and these students are mostly non-majors) but this semester it's just not working out, they all seem desperately overextended and low energy in class, all but the top students are struggling to complete the reading assignments for each class session, and I don't think they are just being lazy.   I think I miscalculated and I've simply asked them to bite off more than they can chew for the time we have for the rest of the semester.  

I am finding myself wishing I'd assigned a few short stories instead of a series of fairly long novels for the final weeks of semester.  I haven't taught this course in a couple of years and I think I underestimated how long and challenging some of these works were for students, especially non-specialists.  

I am tempted to drop the final novel from the course and either a) spend more time on the second-to-last novel so that they really get a chance to read it properly or b) assign one or two short stories that contain similar themes and techniques but are more manageable in length on one or both of the days we were scheduled to discuss the final novel.

My biggest concern in considering doing something like this is the fact that the students bought (or, in a lot of cases here, rented) the novel and I worry that they will resent me for making them pay for a book that we didn't use.  I think the paperback version of the book was about $10.  I don't know what the bookstore's return policy at this late stage in the semester but I would be surprised if they would give them more than a store credit if that.  This is not a course that is taught every semester so the bookstore doesn't have a motivation to buy the novel back for future students.  

Has anyone ever dropped a book from a course during the semester and had complaints from students about spending money on something that went unused?

In my desperation I am tempted to offer to buy back the novels from any students who want to take me up on it and to sell them on amazon used or something.  It's a fairly popular book that might not be too hard to sell a few copies of. Am I crazy?

Or does anyone have any other ideas about how to make these last few weeks bearable for myself and my students, with our without changing the syllabus?

Like I said--exhaustion on both their side and mine, and I really want to end this semester sanely.  My last class session you could hear a pin drop for most of the class "discussion."

systeme_d_:
Your students will be so glad you're dropping the last novel that they'll pay you.

Seriously.
Many of them have not yet bought the novel.
Those who did paid $10 or under, and no one is going to complain about that small of a loss.  Their science books cost 20 times that.

There's no way you should offer to buy their books from them.  They can sell them elsewhere.

tuxedo_cat:
Quote from: systeme_d_ on March 28, 2013,  6:32:10 PM

Your students will be so glad you're dropping the last novel that they'll pay you.

Seriously.
Many of them have not yet bought the novel.
Those who did paid $10 or under, and no one is going to complain about that small of a loss.  Their science books cost 20 times that.

There's no way you should offer to buy their books from them.  They can sell them elsewhere.


This.  I've done this on occasion for some of the reasons you cite.  I instantly became their favorite professor.

lottie:
Quote from: tuxedo_cat on March 28, 2013,  6:38:47 PM

Quote from: systeme_d_ on March 28, 2013,  6:32:10 PM

Your students will be so glad you're dropping the last novel that they'll pay you.

Seriously.
Many of them have not yet bought the novel.
Those who did paid $10 or under, and no one is going to complain about that small of a loss.  Their science books cost 20 times that.

There's no way you should offer to buy their books from them.  They can sell them elsewhere.


Yup.

Stop stressing. Just do it.

This.  I've done this on occasion for some of the reasons you cite.  I instantly became their favorite professor.

marigolds:
+ one million.

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