As an uber nerd, an English major, and a writer, I’m supposed to be very well-read and literary. For the most part, I fit the bill. I’m in love with libraries and force Dave to frequent them in every new city we visit. I used to stay up all night when I was a kid, hiding my flashlight and book under my covers. I read great and not-so-great stuff every day.
Though I’ve enjoyed plenty of young adult fantasy novels and fancy schmancy classics, I’ve missed a lot of important ones. At this point in my life, however, I’m not really in the business of reading things just because I’m supposed to. So there’s no going back. I’m not reading The Sound and The Fury.
The problem is I have annoyingly smart friends and colleagues who want to talk to me about smart-people literature. Sometimes I just play along and nod, pretending like I know all about the nonsense words shooting out of their mouths. It’s not worth it to explain how I got bored reading the book that changed their lives. I’m really just being thoughtful and considerate in my lies by omission.
Here are just a few socially significant books I started and never finished (so stop talking to me about them, please):
- Moby Dick—I was interested in this book because Matilda read it with Ms. Honey after she adopted her, but I started it a little too early in life. I’m glad I never finished it, because I think you’re supposed to be on the side of the sailor, and I’m pretty sure I’d have cheered for the whale.
- Little Women—I couldn’t get into a story about a bunch of girls who were stuck at home, thinking about boys. I stopped reading when I got to a set of pages about the hairstyles each girl would wear to a party.
- Don Quixote—I started reading this one, but then I realized there are about a thousand parodies of this book, so what’s the point, really?
- The Origin of Species—I pick this up thinking it would add to my scientific knowledge. Once I read a few paragraphs, I remembered I already believe in evolution and don’t need to be convinced.
- For Whom the Bell Tolls—I know a lot of people are in love with Hemingway, but there was too much war talk and into the library donation pile it went.
So now the cat’s out of the bag. If it’s a classic novel written by an old guy, I probably didn’t get through it. You can stop slyly mentioning plot lines or throwing around quotes from the last two thirds of the book, because I don’t understand them. Move along, smarty pants.