Well-Read vs.Not Well-Read
If I were to take a poll of my immediate circle of friends and acquaintances most of them would not be considered well-read. I am much more well-read then they are, and I am not as well-read as many.
I’ve taken several on-line tests to determine how well read I am. I seem to fall below the 50% mark. I read over 100 books a year, but they are not the books on these lists.
These lists are inconclusive. Some lists have certain books that make you well read while other lists have different books.
Even the famous 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list keeps evolving.
On a Goodreads Listopia list entitled Books you need to read t be considered well-read, I read only 37 out of the 100 books listed.
This list includes books such as: Steppenwolf by Hesse and A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens. Both of which I’ve read. It also includes Lord of the Flies by Golding and Fahrenheit 451 by Bradbury. I’ve not read either of these.
Many of these books are sitting on my bookshelf collecting dust, while others are in my e-book archives. So why don’t I get to them?
A For Effort
I tried to read as many of them as I could. I want to be well read, but sometimes reading these books, is just plain rough.
There is beauty in antiquated language, but a book with 500 pages of it will give me a headache. Even the audio book version of some of these works are too much for my ears.
I could maybe stomach 5 or 6 of these books a year.
As an undergrad, I was blessed to read two books that I would have NEVER read on my own: Ulysses by James Joyce and In Search of Lost Time #1 by Marcel Proust. I think reading just these two books alone should shoot you straight to the top of the well-read list.
I found them both a challenge even though I had the aid of my Professor.
So far this year, I’ve only read one book that appears on the well-read list. It was Camus’ The Stranger, and as you know, that one is short.
Last year I didn’t do much better. I only read two. The Proust book, which if it wasn’t for my class, I wouldn’t have read that one either, and Wise Blood by O’Connor, which I picked up on my own and loved.
What Do I Read?
There have been years where I made an effort to read some of the Classics (old and new) but they are just not my cup of tea.
Therefore I read what I want, and don’t care if people think I am not well-read because of it.
Life is too short to read stuff that doesn’t interest me. I’d much rather read Stephen King or David Sedaris over most of the “high brow” books.
I do believe it is good to have a balance. It is hard to talk to someone who hasn’t read any of the “important books of our era.” It is also very difficult to have a conversation with someone who doesn’t read anything that is less than 1500 on the Lexile scale.
Believe me, I’ve tried. The converstaions went something like this:
Me: Hey did you ever read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn?
Him: Never heard of it. Is it fiction?
Him: I don’t read fiction.
Me: Oh OK. Well did you read Unbroken by Hillenbrand?
Him: Never heard of it, is that non-fiction?
Me: Yeah, it is a true story about a pilot during WWII.
Him: No, don’t know it.
I kid you not. I was on a popular dating site, and it matched me with two men who I had almost the identical conversation with.
The first one would read books that I never, ever, ever heard of. They were so obscure. The second one read more popular and accessible non-fiction, but had no idea about anything in the fiction genre.
I’m not a big fiction reader myself, but a fiction book does pass my hands at least once a month.
I suppose the powers that be would consider both of these men well-read in a way because they don’t read low-brow or popular fiction, but they don’t even read literary fiction. They themselves thought they were superior beings.
But now I’m just sounding bitter.
By all means, people should read what makes them happy. Most of the books that will make me a candidate for the well-read category will probably never make it on to my reading list.
The fact that people are reading, makes me happy.
I do plan to get through War & Peace as well as Crime & Punishment. That is just personal!!