Just some high level musings about reading classic literature, vs. whatever is on the best seller list. I’ve been on a classics kick lately, probably because I didn’t read them in school, or not enough of them anyway. I remember a short course on Shakespeare in high school, and I took a semester of Shakespeare in college, along with a Middles Ages & Renaissance class that covered Song of Roland and The Canterbury Tales, along with other stuff I have long since forgotten. But I missed out on studying Jane Austen’s works and her contemporaries, and the Brontës, Henry Fielding, Sir Walter Scott (does anyone read The Last of the Mohicans or Ivanhoe anymore?). I recently picked up a copy of Sinclair Lewis’s Main Street, but have yet to read it.
At my last job, my co-workers organized a book club, and we met once a month to discuss a book, and decide what to read next. These women were largely college-educated, great readers, and yet almost none of them had heard of Jack Kerouac. I was appalled. Instead one month we read a paperback crime novel, written by the sister of another co-worker. I won’t name it, it was dreadful. Factually, the author seemed to have done a good deal of research into the subject matter, but the characters were cardboard-thin stereotypes of the genre. My reading time is precious, and limited. I don’t want to waste another minute of my life reading that kind of drivel.
As Flannery O’Connor said, “There’s many a best-seller that could have been prevented by a good writing teacher.”