Where were the guidance counselors when I signed up for classes? Where were my parents? Who let me avoid some of the most important subjects of my foundation? In short, I was afraid of being bored, a classic teenage fear! Now, it makes me angry, that as a fifteen, sixteen, and seventeen year-old, I was entrusted with choosing the right schedule. Instead of enrolling in Brit Lit, American Lit, or World Lit, I opted for Creative Writing and Mythology. Good grief. I feel like such a slacker. Jacquelyn Mitchard (Deep End of the Ocean) once had a weekly syndicated newspaper column. Every Wednesday evening, I devoured her wit and wisdom, especially her column titled, “Read These Classics Before You Die!” Eleven all-time-must-reads were on the list and, at that moment, I wondered if I had a chance to make a dent. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn was my first book. Check. To Kill A Mockingbird. Check. Catcher in the Rye. Check, check. Sadly, I do not read very fast and am easily distracted by current best sellers. My bedside stack of books continues to grow. My family passes good reads my way, with the enticing words, “You’re going to LOVE this one!” If only I could finish books by sliding them under my pillow at night. There is one bright spot in my delayed reading curriculum…as an adult, I am enjoying the classics more than I ever would have, as a teenager. Last week, I read Hemingway’s, Farewell to Arms. My husband said, “What? You’ve never read THAT?” I read much too slowly to read things twice…although, there are some books which I would love to read once a year. This week I am reading Three Cups of Tea and (yes, and) Hemingway’s Garden of Eden. I am becoming a huge Hemingway fan. The simple dialogue is very creative, if that makes sense. Old Man and the Sea was my first Ernest book, so I had no idea that Farewell and Garden would be so sultry. Perfect summer reading. Did you catch the part that I am reading two-at-a-time? This is only possible because of books-on-C.D. from our public library. I do not feel like I am cheating by listening, as opposed to reading the written word. On the contrary, it is absolutely delicious to hear the story read as it was intended to unfold. I’ll never totally conquer the classics, but with two-at-a-time, I can certainly make some progress. Now, if only the community college offers a speed reading course, for audit only-not a grade, please, maybe I can knock out three-at-a-time! Parents, guide your children. Counselors, guide your students. Administrators, require the classics.
June 21, 2011