Take a look at my To Read List,and you’ll see that I have still many great books to read.I haven’t touched 1984,Catcher in the Rye and Catch 22,all of which are fan favorites; I have only read two Russian books; apart from A Farewell to Arms,I haven’t given a go to Hemingway’s other books.All this to say that it doesn’t do me anything to admit that I haven’t yet read those books which millions of people have before me.
As per my activities in life,I come across a certain girl once or twice every month since October.She is 17 or 18,hence younger than I,and knows me through my former tuition classmates.She doesn’t fancy me any more I do her,but when we happen to meet,she is always the one who’ll start the conversation.She knows I read much,so will start talking about all the books she’s read,most – if not all – of which are young adult books,and according to her,she’s read over 350 of them- an almost unbelievable number,but not unreachable,I thought.Anyhow,it is great to see someone who reads that much.
Also every time she meets me she will enquire about the book I am currently reading.One of my latest meetings with her coincided with the period during which I was still under the spell of Anna Karenina.When I told the girl that it was the last book I read,she looked at me,smiled and said: ” I read it too.I loved it”.But her empty and flickering eyes said otherwise.I looked at her and stayed silent,but my countenance indicated that I wanted to hear more from her.I think she understood that,but kept silent too.
I don’t want to sound snobbish,but it is obvious that someone who has read romantic young adult novels all her life would struggle with Anna Karenina;Tolstoy’s masterpiece is one of the biggest classics in literature,filled with political and agricultural discussions,and showcases a high level of psychological complexity seldom seen in other literary works.Besides,Anna Karenina is the kind of book that leaves an indelible impression of extreme beauty and grandeur on those who’ve loved the book,but I saw nothing in her face that showed she’s read the book,let alone loved it.
You might say that maybe she wasn’t lying and that I cannot deduce pretense in her simply at the sight of her eyes and countenance.Sure.But I remember in October,while I was listing all the classics that I would read in 2014,she claimed to having read The Great Gatsby and watched the 2012 movie version,although,she said,it was not as good as the book.Now in late March,after I told her that I’m on the verge of finishing The Great Gatsby,she looked at me with her natural air,and not with the same as when she said she read Anna Karenina,and declared: ”Hmm,I haven’t read this book yet.I must buy it someday.” I felt like refreshing her memory,but I didn’t want to start a row and be accused of looking down on her,so I stayed quiet and wondered why she pretended having read books she hasn’t,and why she doesn’t get started with the classics.Could it be that she takes her pretense for reality and feels more comfortable with it?