I just read a very interesting essay
about reading. And not reading. And not reading the right stuff. It made me think.
My mum has been trying to push the "classics" of literature on me for the last, oh, about three years. You know, books from those Top 100 Literary Classics Of All Time. Just yesterday she showed me part of my Christmas present. Books, of course. Two books from one of those lists. I'm just glad that I'm also getting Harry Potter, which will never ever be on one of those lists.
I've never felt particularly inclined to read the classics. Oh, occasionally I'll pick up one of them and glance thorough it to see what the big deal is. Mostly, I just put them right back down after the first few pages of horrible boredom. I'm a rather plebeian reader. I like science fiction and fantasy novels mostly, with the occasional book of short stories or essays about interesting topics thrown in just to spice it up. The occasional biography about an interesting person, too. But I think that Dickens sucks, Shakespeare is overrated. Maybe it's because they were forced on my in school. I don't remember reading one book that I was required to read with joy.
But I did read in high school. Boy, did I read in high school! I read during class, almost every class. In some classes the teacher didn't care, in some I hid it well, and in others I didn't care and the teachers got really mad at me. Funnily, the teacher who really got on my case about it was an English teacher. Anyway, I stayed up really late every night, sometimes with a flashlight since I was supposed to be asleep already. During my peak reading years, I think I read almost one book a day. Scary, eh?
However, lately I haven't been reading as much. The article says "adolescence is a temporary madness, and literature is its mood drug" and that as we age we stop reading so much. I found this to be basically true, but I don't think I'll ever drop off so much as to become what the author of the article calls "aliterate." I think this because, well, neither of my parents have. They read all the time! But they don't really read the classics, not even my mum, who's trying to force them on me. She rereads old favorites like Tolkein and Renault and Heyer. My dad reads history books, alternate-history sci-fi, and the like, although it is true that he doesn't read as much as he used to. I think I'll never become aliterate because I don't try to read the classics and I don't feel guilty about not reading them.
Yes, I read less now that I have an actual life and adult responsibilities, but I do still read. It takes me more than a day, more than a week even, to read a novel through, but I still do it. Yes, I have stacks of books I've abandoned half-way through, but either I'll get back to them eventually or they're not worth it. Hopefully.
Anyway, it was an interesting article.