Yes, “let’s get Oscar Wilde!” This is what my boyfriend envisioned my college spring break shenanigans entailed. I get it, I was an English major and reading is super cool, but, come on, I wasn’t that nerdy…
I mentioned that I recently acquired a Kindle, a decision not easily made, but due to my re-kindled (bedumchhhhh) love of reading, my book supply simply couldn’t keep up with my page turning, so-to-speak.
In exploring new opportunities for literary magic to download to my Kindle, I came across many of those lists saying things like, “100 Books to Read Before You Die” and “50 Books Every 28-year-old Redhead MUST Read.” I look at these lists, and think, “eh.”
While there are books that are absolute literary genius, it’s tough to choose one genre, one era, one author, one title, or even several of the same and make it a “must read before death” quota. Reading is subjective and some of those classics and bestsellers are just not for everyone.
I’ve read Wuthering Heights twice, not on my own volition, it had something to do with passing classes in college. Look, I understand the Bronte sisters were far ahead of their time, and blah blah blah, and I really like Jane Eyre and Tenant of Wildfell Hall, but Wuthering Heights? I did NOT like it. I wouldn’t even go as far to say, “OMG, you should read Wuthering Heights cuz it’s like a classic and stuff.” There is so much else out there to read, and while I appreciate the kind of book it is, I would’ve been living just as well, if not better, having not ever read it. I’d probably be less angry at Emily Bronte, for example.
As much as I hate these lists, I still like to peruse them for something new ideas or a, “yeah, I really should read that” moment. I should at least investigate what all the hubbub is about.
My modus operandi with books is that if I’m halfway through and I’m not enjoying it, I put it away. So I’m sorry highly recommended A Staggaring Work of Exceptional Genius, I get that you’re a good book, but halfway through, it wasn’t working out. It’s not you, it’s me. But there’s too much else out there to dive into that I’d enjoy much, much more to waste my time on a book I’m less than thrilled about. Thanks, anyway.
So, to contradict much of what I’ve mentioned in this post, I do have a list of books I think people should read—wait, let me rephrase—a list of recommendations.
East of Eden – John Steinbeck (…and ANYTHING by John Steinbeck, man is a genius)
Picnic at Hanging Rock – Joan Lindsay
Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery
Tess of the D’urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Scarlett Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Curious Incident of the Dog – Mark Haddon
Empire Falls – Richard Russo
The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
The Collected Works of Algernon Blackwood – Algernon Blackwood (I couldn’t choose just one titillating story!)
Where the Red Fern Grows – Wilson Rawls (I still cry thinking of that book)
The Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins (soooo captivating, come on!)
The Giving Tree – Shel Silverstein
The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway
A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
The Diary of Anne Frank
The Giver – Lois Lowry
Look, there are many more great books I could recommend, even more I don’t recommend, and there are a great many great books I’m waaaaaaaay past due to read that should be on this list. So, this summer, while my friends are getting drunk till 3am on a Friday night, I will be snuggled up with my cat and Kindle till the witching hour, catching up on all the books I can digest in a marathon reading, saving some money and brain cells, and waking up with only a literature hangover.
Things are going to get Oscar Wilde.