Book Guilt

Lori passed along a link to the secret life of non-readers, so I thought I’d blog about reading guilt.

I think I was born with book guilt - even when I was reading The Cat in the Hat I felt that I ought to be up to Pippi Longstocking already. Book guilt led me to voluntarily read Paradise Lost in high school. I still have a healthy guilt about the classics, but I’ve never felt the need to read the new mainstream literature. My book guilt ends at WWI with Goodbye to All That, which has saved me no end of guilt over the years.

I’ve read about 70 books this year, most of them science fiction or fantasy. In a way that’s reading for work - I started back into sci-fi with such literary devotion not because I thought I’d missed gems like LMB (though I had), but because I wanted to write in the genre. My muse needs a constant supply of good examples to keep her fresh.

I’ve found that writing is a great reliever of book guilt - I’d read Robert Browning, I can say to myself with a straight face, if only I weren’t so busy revising this fanfic novel. I’m a producer, not a consumer. That excuse also covers a multitude of unread fanfic.

So, how about a book guilt meme? Feel free to up the numbers if you’re guiltier than I am.

Name three classics mouldering on your shelves:

  1. Os Lusíadas, Luís Vaz de Camões, the epic work of Portuguese literature, by the Portuguese Shakespeare - also an example of foreign language guilt
  2. The Faerie Qveen, Spenser
  3. The Divine Comedy - true guilt extends beyond Dante’s Inferno, not that I’ve read even that much

Name three works of modern literature you managed to avoid:

  1. Anything by Barbara Kingsolver
  2. Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison
  3. On the Road, Jack Kerouac

Name three novels you read but wish you hadn’t:

  1. Lady Chatterly’s Lover, D. H. Lawrence
  2. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera
  3. The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath

Name three books you skimmed your way through or never finished:

  1. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
  2. The Golden Bough, abridged edition, Sir James George Frazer
  3. Eyeless in Gaza, Aldous Huxley

Name three famous fanfics you’ve always meant to read:

  1. Iolokus (XF)
  2. The rest of Talking Stick/Circle (VOY)
  3. The Glory Days series (VOY)

3 Responses to “Book Guilt”

  1. mike Says:

    Mouldering Classic: “Middlemarch,” by George Elliot. One thousand pages of a nineteenth-century English village. I’ve been meaning/wanting to read this for ten years. Same for “Democracy in America,” by DeTocqueville.

    Never Finished: “Collected Short Stories” of Eudora Welty. Couldn’t understand the fuss. Got bored. Also, “Hero With A Thousand Faces” by Joseph Campbell. (Does that count?) Windy like a fart.

    Modern Lit I’ve Managed To Avoid: Everything, if you mean published in the past twenty years or so. Stilted grotesquery paraded as deep meaning and realism. Gick.

    Fanfic I’ve Always Meant To Read The Whole Damn Thing: Lori’s C&C series. (Please don’t hit me, Lori!)

  2. mike Says:

    Oooh! Flip side? A book I would normally have *never* read, but I’m so very, very glad I did as I love it tremendously? “Love in the Time of Cholera,” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Magic realism is too close to lazy fantasy, but in GGM’s hands this story really is magical. God, it’s beautiful.

  3. Mind of Knowledge Says:

    My first Meme
    On my daily visit to R.J. Anderson’s blog (see links on the left - Parabolic Reflections) I read her literature