Happy Read Across America Day!


I managed to shock both Sighkey and Kali Mama — something that cannot, I expect, be done very easily — by having apparently skipped reading Pride and Prejudice in my formative years. So let me clarify that I was rereading it. Sighkey left a list in the comments of books and poems they read there in Kiwi-a-go-go-land, and I am pleased to say that I have read all of them, so our essential solidarity as English speaking countries seems to be intact.

Our book club is planning to read Reading Lolita in Tehran, and is preparing to do so by reading or rereading all the books they study in that book. That way, we will have them fresh in our minds. We have reread Lolita, The Great Gatsby, and Pride and Prejudice. I have enjoyed doing so. Next comes Daisy Miller. None of us has already read this book. And I will venture to predict that none of you will be shocked by that fact.

Daisy Miller is not in the same category as Pride and Prejudice.

I am currently rereading some novels by Colin Watson. He is as keen an observer, with as mischievous a wit and as elegant a turn of phrase, as Jane Austen. Yet his books are not only not considered classics, they are out of print. He may be too recent. But we have all read Oscar Wilde, have we not? Yet I will not assume that you have all read H.H. Munro and E.F. Benson, though they are, to my mind, equally good representatives of the genre.

It may be that it is necessary, for us to be able to have some basis for discussion, that there should be a canon of books and shorter works that all of us can be assumed to have read.

Some of the books my boys have recently read for school have struck me as odd choices — Cold Mountain (which I don’t consider suitable for young teens), and Night. I’m always in favor of any reading, but one has to wonder why both boys were assigned Night, rather than, say, Jack London.

But both have read Poe, Shakespeare, Steinbeck and Lord of the Flies for school. So school apparently continues to be a force for keeping us all together on our reading.

#2 son recently put in his book order with me (I order the trade books for the store at the beginning of each month) and asked for King Solomon’s Mines and The Picture of Dorian Gray. He has been reading Terry Pratchett, Kurt Vonnegut, and Michael Crichton. But he saw the movie The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, in which the characters are from old books. Having read most of the books in question, he wanted to complete his knowledge by reading about the last two he hadn’t already known about. So popular culture — assuming, as it does, that we have all read the agreed-upon books — also inspires people to keep up.

I have never read King Solomon’s Mines, myself, so I intend to borrow it from #2 son when he is finished.

But I bet you aren’t shocked.