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I randomly plucked dusty books from various locations around my house. I decided proof positive evidence of my book guilt was in order.

<~~~all those books, over there, are unread.

A fraudulent book impression sprinkled within my bookshelves.

And although no one has asked for a confession of any sort, the burden of my counterfeit book behavior is making me come clean to some degree. For the record, since I'm making this official and all, that's just a small example of my non-read, yet remains on the bookshelf like a satisfied read book.

I didn't start off as a guilty poser. Every book I've purchased was above board, laced with reading intention and consumption hope. I've never bought a book based on a shallow notion it would look good on my bookshelf. Or thought, that just by a books mere presence, my overall book stock would go up.

However, I probably have bought a book or two, to read, just in case someone smart and whip brilliant (read literary snob) found me fascinating enough to say, "Oh Rebecca, you sound so book knowledgeable, pray tell, what was your interpretation of Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina?"

Hey, just when you think it won't would.....

With all that being said, I can claim to having cracked open the spine on every one of those abandoned books. A valiant effort certainly commenced. Each book had it's fair shake to wrap it's arms around me and take me to a new place. Everyone of those book bored me to tears until I simply tossed them aside for something a bit more interesting, a bit more entertaining and a lot less monotonous.

This might be a good moment to mention, the classics I'm really referring to are mainly pre-1940's style of writing and living. I'm not entirely immune to anything that made it on the classic list and can claim reading, front to back, a few.

Sigh. I feel such shame in my lack of enthusiasm for the majority of classics. I'd like to adhere to the notion that it takes a certain sort of mind frame, or a unique personality to bask in the pleasure of swimming though them. For those that do, bravo, I am jealous, because evidently I don't fall into that category.

So much for my ambitions of joining a Jane Austen Club.

I do thank everyone for the comments to my question. Although the impact and dynamics of having a Blog will always evolve, one thing I doubt will ever change is the fact a single comment can validate a feeling that felt so individual.

My aversion to classics no longer feels like a one woman show of literary guilt~

17 Additional Thoughts:

This has me wondering what you thought of Grealy's "Face" or the Elie Wiesel book; we never discussed it afterward.
I went on a job interview yesterday with the agreement I'd wait for the Dr to speak with me when he could, between patients. I brought a book on autosomal DNA. When he came into the waiting room & saw me reading it, he said: I only read things like that when I want to impress someone. Then I found out he buys his supplies at the dollar store. I think I'll stay unemployed.
ANYWAY, I like reading some very intense books, but I don't care for the sweeping epics that make me feel like a patent attny while I'm reading either.
I've heard that many wealthy people have someone "amass" a library for them-all of largely unread (by the person paying)literature. I doubt they even crack the spines.
You would not be able to write so well if you did not read well. I am sure that you do, just what is to your taste. ~Mary

February 17, 2009 1:43 PM  

We have five bookcases downstairs with books that I have mostly read. We have one upstairs filled with those on deck. I guess an 83% kill rate isn't too bad, is it?

February 17, 2009 2:57 PM  

Having to like the "classics" just because they are is like having to like the song "Womanizer" just because it's in the top 10 list.

You're just showing that you are an independent thinker, not going with the crowd.

I like some classics, hate most of them.

February 17, 2009 3:14 PM  

I've always tried to select books according to my tastes, some classics do fit this.
But.... like your taste preferences for foods, that can change.
I've never been much of a fantasy reader, but tonight at the library, I picked up 3 books by Marion Zimmer Bradley. All with Avalon as a main theme. I'm looking forward to digging in.
If you're worried about being found out-can't be truthful about not having read them-get the Cliff notes version! ;)
I say life is too short to read things you don't enjoy-unless it's mandatory, work or study related!

:) Leigh

February 17, 2009 8:01 PM  

I read books to escape in a literary world that can't touch my own. Having said that, a book has to captivate me enough to remove me from whatever mindset I find myself in. I do read an inordinate amount of horror litature. Someone once asked me why...the answer was something I didn't even have to hesitate and think about - because the life I've lived, I've experienced all the real life monsters already. Not much scares me on those levels. Part of it is the forbidden nature of such books. Growing up in an overly religious home and being denied those options.

Who is to say what captured our minds. I used to think I had to read the classics or immerse myself in books with rarely spoken words to better my intellect. Truth of the matter is, if it's boring the life out of you, your not exactly absorbing much of it to begin with. Life is much too short to waste on maybes dear friend. Read whatever gives you an echo of pleasure, teases your senses or enriches your imagination. Let your reading kidnap you to worlds unknown. (Hugs)Indigo

February 17, 2009 8:19 PM  

I have a lot of books sitting on my shelf that I haven't read... hmm I need to get to it!


February 17, 2009 9:44 PM  

I have a huge stack next to my bed that I keep meaning to get around to, but, to be honest, all I read right now, is snippets of the book you sent me (which I'm totally loving, btw) , and school books. Maybe someday, when I'm finally done with school..

I'm off to check out your new blog! :]

February 18, 2009 5:38 PM  

I too, have a stack of unread (but intended) books! Perhaps everyone actually does, because now that I think about it, I know many people in this category. I think there this too... often we let ourselves be convinced into thinking we "should" read and enjoy that thing we find boring because someone said we should. Honestly... with all there is to read these days, I think it's time we made our own choices about what's important to us and let the others choose for themselves. It does not make you any more or less of a reader (or writer, for that matter)! I enjoy reading your ponderings.

February 18, 2009 8:40 PM  

I read by the first ten pages rule, if it grabs my attention I will finish it and if it doesn't then it's a goner!

February 19, 2009 1:35 AM  

I have loads of unread books on my shelves too. Even though I am an avid reader... I tend to buy more than I can cope with (lol). So - you are not alone...!

February 19, 2009 2:19 AM  

I have a pile of books waiting to be read. I just bought 3 more. LOL. I will get to them. I usually do. Don't worry about what others think of your reading or non reading as the case may be. Just read what you like.


February 19, 2009 5:17 AM  

Oh, boy, do I know the stack-o-books next to the bed syndrome, who's main consequence seems to be an inordinate amount of useless guilt.
Might I recommend Maugham, for modern and classic together
And for contemporary, I really love Julia Glass. Try Three Junes, and if you like that, the Whole World Over.

February 19, 2009 12:28 PM  

I just recently found a box of books i have yet to read, while other books i have I've read several times.

Just start reading them gradually and within a few years you will have them read

February 19, 2009 8:36 PM  

Thank goodness I'm not the only one who feels this way.

February 20, 2009 9:50 AM  

I must confess up front tha I'm a former English teacher and I love to read almost anything. I think that the trick is not to be awed by a literary work being labeled a classic. The author wrote to communicate, not to have his or her work labeled a classic. Wuthering Heights is among my favorite books, but not because it's a classic, but because I'm a sucker for a sad love story. Heathcliff and Cathy are the most star crossed pair since Romeo and Juliet. I'm also in love with the sound and rhythm of words and I like literature that is a bit challenging to read. I don't like all classic literature. I read James Joyce's Ulysses abd loathed it. I found it overwritten and murky in substnace.

I think that the important thing is to read what one likes and enjoys. I read the "classics" but I also like contemporary fiction. Currently I'm obsessed with teh works of Jodi Picoult because I find her to be a fabulous story teller. I don't think that there is any shame in having a personal sense of taste, nor should there be any literary guilt.

February 22, 2009 4:44 PM  

Hey Rebecca,

I was wondering if you read "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" ???? It was a very good book indeed. I was wondering if you would send me that book you have "The Life of Charlotte Bronte" I would sure like to read that. I would also like to read "Emma" that seems like a great book I would like to read. I enjoy reading the classics. Thanks for sharing this. I do miss your letters in the mail. Do take care.

February 24, 2009 6:25 PM  

hello there thanks for your grat post, as usual ((o:

November 17, 2010 5:35 AM  

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