When I was 14 I was put into the second level English class, while several of my close friends were placed in the top set. I remember when my friends in the other class were reading Wuthering Heights and would discuss Heathcliff during our lunchbreaks, and though it all sounded interesting I didn’t bother to read the book just to be able to contribute to their discussions.
We have a copy of Wuthering Heights here that my mum received while she was in a mail-order book club years ago, and I flicked through the book but didn’t wish to spoil its hard-backed perfection by reading it, so I borrowed a copy from the library. Then I decided not to read the library copy for some reason which I can’t remember. So I still haven’t read Wuthering Heights.
When I attended a writer’s course several years ago and was asked about my favourite books, I felt like a fraud for not having read many literary classics. Since then I’ve dutifully read Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, The Picture of Dorian Gray, etc.
Early last year, after reading Pride and Prejudice I decided that I should read Jane Austen’s entire oeuvre. I found that WH Smith had a special offer on her books, so I ended up buying Mansfield Park, Sense and Sensibility and Northanger Abbey. However, after reading the last-mentioned novel I’ve gone off that idea.
Sometimes when I hear about how novel x was so influential on x genre I feel like adding it to my wishlist, but no one has time to read everything, and life is too short to read something that you wouldn’t enjoy. There are so many gaps in my knowledge, but I’m beginning to realise that the most important thing in the world is to know myself.
That said, it amused me to watch this video of authors talking about the books that they’re most ashamed of not reading. Reading the comments was even more interesting; one person had received an A grade on an essay about an unread book, and another person even admitted teaching a class on a novel that he had never read…