Entertainment vs. Intelligence

So I had this idea to read 5 "classic" novels.  I wanted either a classic book or a famous author.  I just wanted some classics under my belt so if the titles or authors came up in conversation I could participate.  I wanted to be just a little more intelligent.  Expanding the mind is good, right?

So my first book of choice was Jack Kerouac's "On the Road."  I've heard a lot of people, articles and even songs mention Jack and I know "On the Road" was one of his more popular books.  Plus I saw that it would eventually be made into a movie and I always enjoy reading a book and then seeing it on the big screen.  Jack had his moments but for the most part the book was a chore to finish.  I did it though.  One down, four to go.

I took a one-book-break from the classic idea and read from one of my favorite authors, Bill Bryson.  (If you haven't read A Walk in the Woods, do so.)  This time around I read The Lost Continent.  It was a nice change of pace after Kerouac.  I  read my second classic, Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice."  This book was absolutely amazing and it's now my favorite book.  Enough said.  Two down, three to go.

I was coming off such a high after reading Pride and Prejudice (I finished the book in one week, that's good for me) so I dove head first into my third classic, "Catch-22."  Uggghhhh!  I've spent months now trying to flip through these pages.  I've managed to read 85 pages of this book.  I still don't really know what is going on or what the point is.  And could there be any more characters?   I took the book with me on my trip to Indiana.  I thought three to four hours on a plane would surely give me a lot of time to really dive into this book.  No.  Instead I read like one or two chapters and could barely keep my eyes open.

I had dinner with my college roommate, Lindsay.  She kindly asked why in the world I was wasting my time reading books I didn't like.  Good question.  While I was in Indiana I asked a few people if they were interested in taking "Catch-22" off my hands.  No one wanted the book.  After a week of pondering over whether or not I should read something I'm not interested I decided that I wasn't going to waste any more time on Catch-22.  So the next day at the airport I  rummaged through the bookstore at Midway.  I wanted a fast read, something enjoyable that excited me and where I didn't have to remember 18 characters.  (That's a guess by the way.)  I chose Tracey Graves' "On the Island."  The book is about a teacher who was hired to tutor a sixteen-year-old Chicago student over the summer… in the Maldives.  Well little miss teacher and teenager never make it to the Maldives and instead they are stranded on an island together for about 4 years.  Teenboy- turns into a man.  You get the point.  I couldn't put the book down.  I read the entire plane ride (I hardly ever do that).  I read 200 pages by the time my plane landed.  I even read a chapter while I was trotting down the moving walkway.  This morning I woke up, read a little, read a little at the dentist and by the time lunch rolled around I couldn't handle it and I just sat down and finished the book.  There was no fancy writing, no intense characters or dialog I couldn't follow.  There were no words I had to look up in the dictionary.  It was set in modern day and not World War II era.  And it did not make me a wee bit smarter.

So what do you think?  Should I (or yourself) read books for entertainment?  Or should we read them to broaden our horizons and maybe teach us a few things?  Or should we do both?  Do you suffer through books just because they are classics or everyone else has read them?  If you're not into a book or you think it's boring do you still try to finish it or do you toss it on your bookshelf and tell yourself you'll finish it one day… even though you know that is not happening.  I'd like to know your scoop on picking out titles and thumbing through the pages.  Let me know.

For now… I probably will not read Catch-22.  I read enough to at least know what the catch is, the setting of the book and that Yossarian is the main character.  That's enough for now.  I might continue on this kick of reading chic-lit novels for the time being… and then I'll try to fit in another classic…hopefully I can make it through one of Hemingway's novels.  He's next on my list.  (I hear he has a few short reads.)


1 comment:

Kristin Farber said...


I used to always think that if I started a book, I had to finish it, but that could be really rough sometimes, especially with some of the "classics." You might not be into the book, but it is a "classic" for some reason, so you keep reading to figure out why. =) I love reading and primarily read for entertainment at this stage in my life. For example, I was reading the Hunger Game series, while Adam was reading all of the baby books getting ready for Lincoln to come. =) I used to keep a book journal, which was fun and a good way to record what I was reading. I want to start it up again when I have more free time. Add The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle to your list. Easy read and one of my favorites! Happy Reading!