‘Classic’ – a book which people praise and don’t read.”
― Mark Twain
I stumbled upon this quote earlier this week, and I must say, it encapsulates a feeling I’ve been trying to express and haven’t been able to. I’ve been kicking around the idea for a few days now that there are books that I should read, or at this point in my life, have finished. I’m not really sure where the feeling comes from, because I feel like most people haven’t read them or even made an attempt. I’ve just always felt, as someone who loved books and essentially made an academic career out of it, that there were certain books I was expected to read. The “classics”, if you will. I’ve made it my mission to try to read as many as I can, and while I’m not even a quarter of the way through my to-read pile (because I occasionally crave books I’ve already read the way I crave food and HAVE to read them RIGHT NOW), I’ve noticed that most people haven’t read them either. But they expect me to have, and I can hear the judging rattling around their rolling eyes. What kind of English major am I, they wonder, if I haven’t read Dante’s Inferno or Beloved. Never mind the fact that they haven’t read them either, if I was an English major—and not an English/Education major, either, just a straight English major—it is kind of my job. It makes me wish that telling people to fuck off was socially acceptable. The only thing that’s worse is when I’m with people who are legitimately smarter than I am, and have read the books that I haven’t, or simply understand better the books I have read. Because then I feel stupid, and there’s nothing I like less than feeling stupid (maybe Steve Buscemi). It makes me feel like I have no right to be there, which is obviously ridiculous because I am obviously awesome. Somehow I feel like that sounds less obnoxiously cocky out loud than in writing; either way it’s at least 80% true.