Wednesday, September 09, 2009

School Days: Day 8 (bookstores)

I'm participating in Travelin' Oma's School Days, a daily online free study course. Join me!

Today's discussion topic is books. Here's a great list (paraphrased on Travelin' Oma and then reparaphrased by me) which comes from Italo Calvino.

In the bookshop, you find:

1. Books You Needn't Read,
2. Books Made For Purposes Other Than Reading,
3. Books You'd Read If You Had More Time. You bypass them, and move into the
4. Books You Mean To Read,
5. Books You'll Read When They Come Out In Paperback section, and bump into the
6. Books That Everybody's Read So It's As If You've Read Them,
7. Books You Want To Own So They'll Be Handy Just In Case and
8. Books You Ought To Get Now So You Can Read Them Next Summer. Suddenly you see
9. Books Read Long Ago Which It's Now Time To Reread and
10. Books You've Always Pretended to Have Read And Now It's Time To Really Read Them.

Assignment: ~Choose a type of book from the list above, and make your own list of five titles that fit the category.

My response: This list hits me right where it hurts! When you're an English teacher, people assume two things:

1) That you majored in spelling
2) That you've read every book known to man

Guess what. I didn't do either thing. In fact, my husband the undecided wanderer, is my blog editor. I'm much more concerned with the big picture, and often overlook my own errors. In college, I ended up focusing on some very specific and almost obscure literature: Norse and Icelandic myth. I love that stuff, but let me tell you how incredibly helpful that has been in my post-college life.

There are so many things I feel like I should have read by now, or that people assume I have read by now, but there's just not enough time in the world. The other thing is that a lot of those "classics" are not really my thing. I'm old enough now to know what my "thing" is and if I'm wasting my time with something that isn't worth the trouble. I even explored the idea of my book-related angst in this post.

So I guess I'll go with "Books I've always pretended to read" and the good girl in me wants you to know that I'd never lie, I just might not tell you I haven't read them if you're talking about them... I might not advertise it so much. I'd make sure to know enough about them to pass by in conversation, but I can't claim ownership like a true reader. I wouldn't lie outright, though. I'm so George Washington. I suppose this list works for #3, 4, 6, and 7 as well.

1) Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
2) Bless Me, Ultima, Rudolpho Anaya
3) The Color Purple, Alice Walker
4) The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan
5) Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand

Ugh, there are about a billion more too. I better just post this before I grow an ulcer.


  1. I'm so glad even English teachers haven't read all the classics. The word classic scares me off. I just assume it's boring. I'm always surprised when a book I read just because, and loved, turns out to be a classic! (Like Jane Eyre.)

    I also have a weird part of me that doesn't want to read the popular book everybody is reading. So years later I finally read it and find out it was as good as they all said.

    Thanks for sharing a good post.

  2. Have you read Friday Night Knitting Club yet?