Life as a Reading Challenge, Chapter 14
My sister knows how to read and occasionally likes to read, but she probably won't make time to read, which means that she isn't a reader. Do you know someone like this?
A few weeks ago, she told me that she had just defended my honour by placing a respectable bet on my head. That is, one of her new friends had said that there was no way I had read a certain book, and my sister had bet good money that I had already read every book the other girl could name--and then some!
"You do realise," I said, "that no one has read every book in the world?"
"Yes, but I'm sure you've read the one she is thinking of."
"How can you say that if you don't even know the title, the author or the genre?"
"I know that it's a New York Times Bestseller!"
"That's even worse! Have you seen my library? NYT Bestseller status means I'm likelier to have heard of it but less likely to have actually read it."
"Whatever. You've read so much that our odds are great!"
So I had to go with her across town to meet the new friend, who asked me about a book I had indeed heard of . . .
. . . but had not yet read.
I actually felt a little bad about losing the bet for my sister, because it's not as if this book had totally slipped my attention. When her friend asked, "Have you read Outliers?" and I asked, "By Malcolm Gladwell?" I could tell that I had surprised her by instantly naming the author. And I really have been curious about Gladwell's books for years; they're just not the sort I collect, so I never get around to buying them.
On the way home, I mused that no matter how many books someone has read, it is incredibly easy to name one that he hasn't. I didn't mean the thousands of titles which are doomed to remain obscure, but the hundreds which readers hear about, feel a bit of interest in, but ultimately set aside for another day which never comes.
I tried to tell my sister as much, but she casually waved her hand at me and said, "I don't care! To me, you have read every book in the world."
And that is how a non-reader tells a reader that she loves her! =P
* * * * *
This brings me to what may or may not be my next reading challenge. Ever since I serendipitously reserved December and January for children's literature last year, and saw how well they fit together, I've wanted to do it again. And despite my love of such books, the two which I was going to ask everyone to help me choose between are titles I've known about and been putting off for years, for no good reason.
But then the Reading for Believers blog suddenly became active again, with another member inviting everyone to read Lord of the World by Robert Hugh Benson with her. That's also a book I have heard of (mostly because someone had mentioned that Pope Francis had alluded to it) and decided to set aside for some future time. Which could be some kind of irony, given that it's set in a past vision of a dystopian future, and I don't have time for it in the present.
Unfortunately, I can't read both, because I also have to help my Managing Editor at Dappled Things comb through the submissions for the very first J.F. Powers Prize for Short Fiction. And I promised NoelCT that I'd watch all the Bloodfist movies with him when he'd finally get around to them, and he happened to start watching them just the other day. And I have a pesky thing called a job that pays for the food I use to stay alive in order to blog, so it's kind of important.
Oh, that reminds me of something . . . Have I mentioned the Dappled Things Advent 2013 Appeal to you yet?
I usually do as I please and am appreciative of anyone whom it also pleases to tag along, but this time I think I'll ask for participation in advance. Would you rather join me and the other ladies at Reading for Believers for Benson's Lord of the World . . . or try your luck with one of the two challenging children's novels that sit on top of the stack in the Shredded Cheddar Mystery Box?
If you're not the voting sort, here is another question . . . Which relatively well-known book would people be surprised to know that you haven't read?
Image Source: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell