My boyfriend is a bit of a late bloomer when it comes to reading or as he likes to call it serious reading. He has always enjoyed reading, but only really read what was required reading for school. Understood. So, now he’s reading and reading the classics.
“Branch out,” I say.
“Nah. The stuff today is crap,” he says.
I smile amiably because that is something I used to say. As a former Literature major, the classics are what I read; then I joined a book club that not only read the classics but read contemporary fiction too. I will agree that a lot of the novels of today are crap, but there are a lot of crappy classics as well.
He has taken on some serious hefty books. Books I wouldn’t even consider reading – like The Brothers Karamazov, Moby Dick, Ulysses and a few others. I tried reading The Brothers and was bored out of my mind. I wouldn’t touch Moby Dick with a 10-foot pole if my life depended on it. I remember my sister had to read it in school and she complained from beginning to end and everyone I know has complained about it, too, including my boyfriend. And I had to read Ulysses in college. Didn’t. But it was on the reading list. I was confused as HELL, so I passed on it and got the Cliff’s Notes.
I work part-time at a bookstore and sometimes he comes to pick me up and while he’s waiting he’ll peruse the store to see what he wants. One day I was over in the graphic novels looking for American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang and he was asking me why I wanted to read a comic book novel. Well, I had to correct him on a small detail.
“It’s not a comic book novel. It’s called a graphic novel.”
“I don’t know why adults read these.”
“Well,” I said. “There are a lot of folks, especially adults, that read them. There are a lot of graphic novels that are just as complex as traditional novels and not meant for young readers.”
Needless to say, he didn’t get it. He just pacified me by saying, ‘OK’.
I hate being pacified.
Recently he bought me two of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie‘s novels Purple Hibiscus and The Thing Around Your Neck – he didn’t turn his nose up at her, but he did try and get me to get a couple of classics that I wanted instead.
He tried hard and I double-downed.
Anyway, I love my beau even if thinks that the classics are the only way to go. I get he’s a late reading bloomer and everyone has got to start somewhere. However, I will be glad when he expands his reading horizons.