the art of the written word

The Haunting of the Unread

When it comes to the classics, is there a book that stand out that you have not read? Does it possibly give you “book guilt?” The Wall Street Journal article about book guilt caught my eye and got me thinking: how many classics have I not read? Despite taking AP English in high school and studying literature in college, I could say there are quite a few that have slipped through the cracks. When it comes to having guilt about not having read a classic or few, I can’t say I feel it.

It could possibly be a tossup between availability and interest. High school saw some of the regular suspects: Dickens, the Bronte gals, Salinger, Faulkner and Hemingway. In college I was crazy about the American West, beat writers, Route 66 and Don DeLillo. See? It comes down to state curriculum versus personal interest.

It’s like this: there has been so much cultural talk about books that we get the basic reference behind the stories.

1984: “Big Brother is watching you.”

Moby-Dick: Something, something whale.

Emma: Jane Austen book turned movie with Gwyneth Paltrow.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: massive acid trip, Disney put it all together for us. Book reprints have awesome bookcovers.

Dracula: Fancy gothic novel that is pages of yadda, yadda, yadda just-get-to-the-bloodsucking.

Taming of the Shrew: Just watch 10 Things I Hate About You.

It is the same idea with movies. We have movies that are considered classics, but it seems more of a surprise when someone has not seen a movie. We are most likely to exclaim “Oh my God, you mean you haven’t seen The Godfather?!” that “Really? You haven’t read Great Expectations?”

What are your thoughts on book guilt? Have you experienced it? Let’s talk here or you can catch me on Twitter.



Photo credit: Clem Onojeghuo via Unsplash

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