Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Book Lists

I came across another one.

You know them. The lists of "classics" you "should have read" if you're a "book nerd."

Considering that I'm just a few pages and a stand-up performance short of a PhD in literature, you'd think I'd cross off every book on every such list.


My lists of books read, unread, to-be-read, and never-to-look-at are just too odd.

Sure, I do have War and Peace, Crime and Punishment, Le Comte de Monte-Cristo on my lists.

I also have a French collection: Zola, Balzac, Sartre, Camus. I'll have to put it into some order... some day.

The fact is, I've done my "serious" reading in graduate school. And before. When I had classes. And papers due. You know, grades.

What do I mean by serious reading? My good author friends, do no make faces! It does not mean "good" reading. It means obligatory, not-by-choice reading.

I read War and Peace for fun, but Anna Karenina as obligatory reading (although it ended up being fun). I read Crime and Punishment for fun, but Chekhov as obligatory reading. Some of the authors and titles shifted from one category to the other. Some didn't. Some I revisited. Some I ignored pointedly after I closed the book once I was done with the assignment. Some I could almost burn (if I could ever bring myself to destroy a single book). Some I'd take with me to a deserted island.

Now lest these authors and titles start impressing you, I will admit that I also enjoy graphic novels, comic books, and manga. I am an old-time fan of science-fiction and fantasy. I couldn't survive without my regular dose of genre novels. I read all of the Harry Potter books, but none of the Stephenie Mayer ones (timing, I guess). And yes, I am a big fan of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.

The point is, there is no bad reading.

There is such a thing as not pushing yourself, as limiting your curiosity. When my first child was little and I felt my reading was going by the wayside, I joined a book club -- just a few friends who got together for coffee and chatting. We decided on a book and talked about it. Nothing formal, but I read some authors I wouldn't have discovered otherwise. And I enjoyed the books.

I pushed myself out of my comfort zone.

We should always do that. We should push ourselves. Be curious. Opening a book is a great way to take a risk without risking danger. And a library is a wonderful place to open a book without opening your wallet.


Skhye said...

Amen! Here! Hear! I told many a person that all that chemistry and advanced math in college was merely a test of my desire to finish a degree. Who in their right mind would take organic chemistry or calculus? Or read all that old dry yucky literature? :( Not the average nerd. Those folks are subject MAJORS. :) There's a reason I specialized in geology instead of chemistry.

SFWriterMasha said...

Argh! Numbers! Save me from numbers! Now you understand how I can handle a Russian novel in one weekend.

Well... Could... It does take practice, and I'm not in training anymore.