I’ve been super busy this week. It’s the busy time of year at work – I had a thirteen hour day this week – plus the usual hectic schedule. As a result, I’ve read next to nothing. Not nothing exactly, mind you. But not as much as I wish I could have read. Reminds me of what I once chose to not read ever.
When I was sixteen I decided never to read anything that wasn’t written in the twentieth century. I couldn’t see the point of it. Someone was, clearly, going to have to be reading those works. But not me. If I needed to understand something written before “my time” I would look to those readers and the new works they had produced to summarize things for me. Just like with a foreign language. Most people don’t pick up Italian to read the latest, Eco, right? That was the thing really. A book written before “my time” felt like it was written in another language. I needed a translator.
This radical reading plan came about after I failed to make it through Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. I didn’t understand why I should bother with a boring murder-mystery that had no mystery. A couple of years later I tried to break my plan with, of all things, Moby Dick. The plan held fast, however, and I was soon back reading books like Since Then and Man in Black.
Funnily enough, Dostoevsky is now one of my favorite authors. I took up The Brothers Karamazov like it was The Gospel after I read it. I went around telling everyone who would listen that it was the only work of fiction worth reading. And I’ll soon be making a second attempt at the great white whale. I guess that sixteen year old me is no longer of “my time.”