Tuesday, November 07, 2006
"And the sad part about it is that if you let yourself think you are satisfied with husks, you'll have no appetite left for the real grain."
This is a quote from The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley, written in 1919. The story is about a bookseller who ruminates about how important is it to read the right books. This struck a chord with me, as I have been wondering, am I reading the right books? I haven't been reading all the books I want myself to read...the classics, history, travel, biographies...On the other hand, I don't see the harm in reading the fun stuff, the science fiction, the mysteries, the current hot novels. Is great literature really that much greater? I am sure some of it is. Do you think more, have more ideas, learn more about the world, about human nature? Perhaps. Even a light mystery can start you thinking, or give you an insight or two. Sometimes you just want a little entertainment or distraction. Is the quality of writing a factor? I would argue that if a book holds your attention, it doesn't matter how lyrical, or poetic, or even intellectual the writing is. You could say it is a bonus... but that argues for reading more "Great Literature", since reading time is limited, why not get more bang for your buck? I am definitely of at least two minds about this issue...Hence the selection of the quote from Michael Dirda, Prowling Through the Stacks"