Summer reading ideas: Not!

Right now, as my fingers stumble across the keyboard, the top story at the ArtJournal site is from the Telegraph in the UK, specifically a video of short interviews with prominent Brit writers who confess their sins: The classic books they haven’t read. Go ahead, click the link! It’s only 3 minutes or so, and really, it’s worth it, because it will make you feel better about some secret reading omission of your own.

The Bible, Wuthering Heights, Middlemarch, Shakespeare, Catch-22, Ulysses, On the Origin of Species … The big books spool out, unread. As I watch the guilty rat on themselves, my favorite is playwright Michael Frayn, who suggests that he hasn’t read ANYTHING and is “in a state of perpetual embarrassment.” Which is exactly how I feel. Not that I haven’t read anything (and frankly, come on, the erudite Mr. Frayn has read a lot), but even if I’ve read it recently, important details have begun to leak out of my brainpan immediately. Was that book really great, or does it simply leave the impression of being really great…? More than regretting books not read, I regret books not remembered.

But OK. I’ll play. The book I’m most embarrassed that I haven’t read. Hmmm. Suddenly there are so many to choose from! Let’s see: Crime and Punishment. It is so big, it is so important, it is so daunting, and I know almost as much about it as books I’ve actually read and forgotten! But still… Hey, that feels better. Your confession below?