I love bookstores. There is something so simple and quaint and peaceful about them- even the enormous Powells' bookstore in down town Portland. If you slip away into a small corner of the massive store it can feel like a seaside bookshop. (If you are not familiar with Powells it is the largest independent bookstore in the world and takes up an entire city block.)
Honestly, I probably like bookstores more than reading. I find that walking through a bookstore and picking out the best front covers can be very inspiring. There is a famous saying, everyone knows it, "don't judge a book by it's cover." Unfortunately I do not adhere to this guideline. In fact I have been known to not purchase books that were recommended to me because I thought the cover was ugly. I HATE when I want to buy a book that has been made into a movie and the actors' faces have replaced the original art work. I love covers and it's one of my random photography-bucket-list items, to have one of my photos as a book cover.
These are all just random side notes by the way. Let me back up.
David was out of town so I decided to watch a matinee, "Perks of Being a Wallflower." I won't give away the movie, I will recommend it- I thought it was good. The movie sparked an interest to visit a bookstore and I just happened to be in walking distance of a mini Powells bookstore- the Cedar Hills Powells. I walked to the store with the idea of buying Jack Kerouac's "On the Road." During the previews I learned that this classic book was about to hit the big screen. I really like reading books that will eventually be movies. I enjoy not only comparing the two side by side (which is better the book or the movie? ...it's always the book...) but I also get a kick out of seeing how one type of artist visually communicates words that were written by a completely different kind of artist. I think we should make all books into movies... of course I think you have to read the book first.
As I typed in Jack's name I realized I didn't know how to correctly spell it. He's a famous, classic author with well-known books, I should know how to spell his name. Thankfully I have a little thing called Google on my iPhone. (What did we do before technology?) I walked down the literature isle slowly, gazing over the book covers and mentally noting which ones would be readable and which ones will never enter my bookshelf. I came to K and found the book I was looking for. It reminded me of a New Years Eve resolution I "mentioned" a year or two ago. I can't actually remember if it was last year or the year before. I put "mentioned" in quotes because it literally was one of those resolutions I just threw out there and never actually put it down as "this is my resolution for 2012." The goal was to read five classic novels. The novels that everyone else seems to have read, or at least the pretend to have read it. On my list I definitely wanted to read Catch-22 and then anything written by Jane Austen, Ernest Hemingway and Jack Kerouac. My fifth read was still up in the air- I thought about rereading The Great Gatsby or something by Mark Twain. Obviously I didn't give it a lot of thought because this resolution never stuck.
I had "On the Road" in my hands when a craving to read other classics came over me. I thought about how much TV I watched and that it would be a smart switch to replace the tube with a book. I also thought about how nice it would be to actually know what people are talking about when they mention a Catch-22 (ya, ya, I get the idea) or to agree or disagree when someone says Hemingway was the greatest author. Pride and Prejudice is one of my all time favorite movies and I can't believe I've never read the true version from Jane Austen's hand. So I went around the bookstore and I started to pick up all of these classic novels.
I decided on three to start; "On the Road" by Kerouac, "Pride and Prejudice" by Austen and "Catch-22" by Joseph Heller. I did look at Hemingway's "Old Man and the Sea" but I didn't buy it. It's a short book, that surprised me. (PS. If you look up photos of Hemingway when he was younger I think you'll find the author to be very handsome.)
The cashier asked why I purchased the special edition of Pride and Prejudice (a Norton Critical Edition). He asked if it was for school. I told him I knew there were cheaper versions (like really cheap for three bucks) but I wanted this version because it had footnotes explaining words I did not know. For instance on the very first page the word Michaelmas is used, I thought it was a person's name but the footnotes explained to me that it generally means "autumn." I paid the extra five dollars for knowledge... plus it will save me time, I won't have to bust out google on my phone. ;) The cashier explained that this edition puts the book in three volumes as opposed to one long novel. According to the lovely cashier the three volume version is how Jane Austen wrote the book.
When the cashier asked if it was for school an unexpected excitement entered my mind. School? It sounds exciting? It only took 7 years for the thought of taking classes to excite me again. I have been thinking about taking a class here and there- like a writing class or a food photography class. Don't worry my bachelors degree is more than enough for my occupation and I am completely happy with my career choice, so I will not be going back to school full time. For now I'll see if a small class is in my near future and I'll get to work on reading my classics.
What is your favorite classic novel? Author?