(And do you plan on ever reading it?)
A. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Last year I read To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee for the first time. I know! I was never required to read it in middle or high school, but it was one I always wanted to read. For one reason or another I just never got around to it. Same with the *list below. Although I majored in English and read many classics, we (obviously) didn’t cover every work by every author.
After I graduated, I gravitated to the authors I enjoyed studying such as Dickens and Forster, and later Tolkien, but that was it. As a teacher my focus shifted toward children’s literature as I searched for authors I could introduce to my students. One of my goals was to inspire a love of reading in them which I hoped they would carry with them. I read them James and the Giant Peach (Roald Dahl), The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett), Mr. Popper’s Penguins (Richard and Florence Atwater), Ramona Quimby (Beverly Cleary), Chocolate Fever (Robert Kimmel Smith) among others.
When I had children of my own, again, I read to them in the hope that they would become readers as they grew older. Now that they've passed the infant/toddler ages, the last few years have been wonderful as I’ve turned back to reading for my own pleasure. So many books and so little time. As a writer I try to read as much in my genre as possible, but not exclusively. It’s important for me to read in different categories and across genre lines. And I’ve realized that there are many classics that I’ve never read and feel that I should read.
But why? Where does the guilt come from? I claim to love literature so much that I sought a degree in it, but have neglected to read and study certain novels that “everyone” else has read. If I’m so well-read, why haven’t I chosen to seek out the classics that I didn’t read as a student? And if I’m a writer, shouldn’t I read from the masters – the ones who have stood the test of time? This last question is one that haunts me every so often, and so I try to make a point of choosing a couple of these novels a year. Since I have summers off and more time to read, I try to mix up my reading material: more MG and YA, adult fiction, and classics.
As I mentioned above, last year I read To Kill A Mockingbird. Loved it so much that it’s now one of my top 10 favorite reads. Two years ago I read The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood), a powerful dystopian from the 80s that floored me. Three years before, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – another classic, never read before, that I ended up loving.
*Here’s the short list of books I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never read. My plan is to cross off at least a couple this summer.
The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
The Great Gastsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Moby Dick – Herman Melville
Frankenstein – Mary Shelly
Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes
Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
Ethan Frome – Edith Wharton
The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
Middlemarch - George Eliot
Okay. I could add more but my face is properly beet red at the moment.
Is there a book(s) that you're embarrassed to admit you've never read? Do you plan to read it?
Don't worry. I won't judge. Feel free to leave a pseudonym if you don't want to leave you're real name. *wink*