On Not Knowing Books

So I’m most likely the most literary-minded person at my store, right? I know about books, publishing, and lots of news. But I’m still only one person. And I’m still 24-years-old. I can’t possibly know EVERYTHING.

Well recently a coworker discovered a number of books I’d not heard of. Some books for young readers. I still have no idea what the books are about, but she was quite surprised when I told her I didn’t know whatever books she was asking about. And she already knows I mostly read Mr. R.L. Stine when I was younger, and she still made fun of me. 😟

Have you ever been asked about a classic and knew nothing about it?

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23 thoughts on “On Not Knowing Books

  1. The great thing about classics is that there’s always something new to discover.

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  2. The fact that she made fun of you doesn’t say much about her character. I guess all the reading she has done hasn’t done a lot for her. One of my mottoes: If you don’t like what I’m doing, don’t watch me do it. – and that includes what I read. The point is to read and enjoy it. It shouldn’t be a status symbol.

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  3. All the time. The only cure for it is to read a few of these classics.

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  4. Despite the fact that I’m a writer, I’m surprised how few of the classics I’ve read!

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  5. You can’t be expected to know everything. I read R.L. Stine as a young girl. I’m just now getting around to reading the major classics like H.G. Wells The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, etc… Don’t worry about it.

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  6. I never really read classics as a young person either. Over the past two years I’ve acquired gorgeous anthologies of many great writers, but have not touched <5% of them. I read a lot of modern fiction to keep up with the trends, and nonfiction books for research, so classics are unfortunately low priority.

    Point is, there will always be books that escape us. As soon as we finish a good book, ten more good books come out. And you know, this "you're 24, so you should have done X things by now" stigma is true of writing too. Do you ever feel like you should have finished writing three novels and have ten short stories published by now? Because I do. And all I have to show for my adult life is one unpublished novel, so I feel like I'm lagging behind. Statistically, most people publish their first novels at 34 or 35, but surrounded by other young people who are already making their names….ugh. I feel like a runt. At least you self-published a book, so you've got something to show for your career! I haven't even taken that leap yet.

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  7. People are frequently shocked that I haven’t read x, y, or z and then go on at length on why I am making a life threateningly bad decision not reading these works. I just smile and nod. They go away eventually. ( I think I have previously mentioned my mulish tendencies, the more people tell me to read/watch something the less likely I am to do so. LOL)

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  8. I have an uncle who appears to have read most of the classics. But while I was reading Atlas Shrugged, I found out he had never heard of it. It turned out the novel is just fairly unpopular in Europe and nobody had ever translated it into the language he usually reads in. Maybe your coworker just comes from an area where that “classic” is/was just generally better received. It’s nothing to get worked up about.

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  9. I almost never read classics, so I’m making it a point this year to read more. I haven’t even read To Kill a Mockingbird, the biggest Lit. class book of the century. 😛 I just haven’t been able to get interested in classic books. I’m more into fantasy and sci-fi. (Are The Lord of the Rings books classics? I’ve read those XD) People will start talking about books like Pride and Prejudice and I’m just sitting there, like, “I saw the movie…” I have read some classics, like Jane Eyre and The Phantom of the Opera, but even then, I’m not sure if they fit into the “classics.” I mean, what even defines a “classic”? LOL, I have questions about these things. 0=)

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    • Hahaha well LOTR definitely is. And Jane Eyre. And I thought The Phantom of the Opera was a play and movie. Welp. But To Kill a Mockingbird is genuinely excellent. Classics to me are books that stand the test of time and resonate with different generations.

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      • 🙂 Yeah, The Phantom of the Opera became famous because of the play/musical, so not many people know about the book. I only know of it because my grandma gave it to me, haha. And I really want to read To Kill A Mockingbird, I just haven’t had time lately, so it’s on my summer list.

        That’s a good definition—it makes sense. I had a classmate define classics as “books that are over 100 years old”….😐 probably not the best they could have come up with…

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      • Hmmmm. I’d definitely like to know what you think when you read To Kill a Mockingbird. AND that definition is horrible. 😳 There are some that have been written fairly recently. Maybe not last year, but perhaps the last decade or two.

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  10. As someone who hoards books and reads a ton, my family just assumes I’ve heard of and read every book ever. They’re especially shocked when I haven’t read classic literature. It can get annoying at times.

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