Friday, August 20, 2010

The Big Reader

I'm not aware of too many things/I know what I know if you know what I mean...

I was out with some co-workers the other night and it was a little depressing. One of them had heard that I am "a big reader", so he was chatting me up about his favorites.
Had I read Gibbon? No.
Voltaire? No. *
Virgil? No.
Euclid? No. **
Spinoza? No.
I was feeling pretty uneducated. Oh-so-ignorant. An imposter. Unwashed, too, but that was probably more of a pyschological thing.

Reader Guy smiled. "I guess you're more of a literature lady."

"I guess so."

"Have you read George Eliot?"

"George Eliot's wonderful!" My mouth was watering to discuss Middlemarch.

"I read The Mill on the Floss." Reader Guy told me. He must have assumed I'd read it because he told me the ending. "It was so disappointing to read that long book and [spoiler] at the end."


Just before we all left the bar, Reader Guy told me that when he's home in Canada in the summer, he'll go out and live in the forest and come to town once a week to shower at the gym, get groceries and visit the library. Kind of like Thoreau, I wanted to say, but knowing about Thoreau and Walden seemed so weak and lit-wimpy compared to actually having read Euclid, Virgil and Spinoza.
Since that night, I've been walking around muttering to myself: "I haven't read anything. I've never read anything."
Funny how things happen just like that. In an instant, my entire literary life fell into the cracks on the floor of the bar and was mopped up along with the spilled, stale beer suds. My bookworm mojo's gone.
*Actually, I did read Candide, but not for fun and pleasure as Reader Guy indicated that he had done. Points off for me because I only read it because it was a World Literature II assignment when I was in college.
** Hell, no! Isn't Euclid a math guy or something? Shudder.


Kathy said...

"Reader Guy smiled" - you forgot to add "condescendingly". Good grief, who wants to discuss Euclid over coffee and muffins? Read on - imagine the great literature he has missed sitting out in the woods scratching. Your mojo can take his any day.

Bybee said...

Yes, I'm sure he pities me.

jenclair said...

This is a great post!

I'm afraid I'd have to ask, "Well, my goodness, what did Euclid have to say?" Because frankly, I will never be reading Euclid, and I'd be happy for a brief synopsis on triangles or something.

Then I might ask if he'd read the Upanishads (not that I have, but it would be a good distraction). :)

Heather said...

Did readerguy say that he had actually read works by those writers, or perhaps he was hoping you had so you could fill him in on the details.

Kathleen said...

We've all met people of this sort. I always wonder if they enjoy reading these authors or just enjoy saying they have read them! I did start to read Gibbon one time, does that count? ha

Unruly Reader said...

While I'm sure Reader Guy is a nice person, I would 10 Million Times rather have coffee with you. And talk books. Real books, read by real people.

The end.

She said...

I ditto what Kathleen said! Oy!

Isabella said...

Who reads Euclid? That's ridiculous!

I haven't read Mill on the Floss, but sure sounds like this guy doesn't GET literature.

Jenny said...

I always feel bad about myself when people start asking me about specific authors. It's amazing how regularly they pick authors I've never read anything by, and I end up looking like I've never picked up a book. I HAVE THOUGH. :p

Nine Mile said...

Have you ever met anyone who enjoyed your company? would have gotten rid of him on the double. I like to think I'd have said it if I were you, but probably not. I would have said it were I observing him make someone else feel small. I got your back, yo.

Whitney said...

Reader Guy sounds like a book snob, or maybe a poser. I don't think there's anything wrong with your mojo, just keep reading!

Michele at Reader's Respite said...


Reader Guy needs a swift kick in the ass, if you ask me. What a rude man.

And thank god I don't have to have coffee with him or he'd probably be wearing it. Just sayin'.

Teacher/Learner said...

Sounds like all the senior or grad student lit snobs I encountered as an English undergrad. Oy vay...! I'm enjoying your blog & look forward to following :o)

Bybee said...

Thanks, everyone! I think my bookworm mojo is stirring again. I don't think I'll ever be like Reader Guy to someone else, but if I am, I hope someone kicks me in the ass and cuts up my library card!

Brenna said...

Bah! Read what you enjoy!

Great post. I am upset Guy ruined The Mill On The Floss for you. That is my favorite Eliot after MIddlemarch. Why would he do such a thing?

nat @book, line, and sinker said...

what an author dropper! how annoying. don't let it get to you--i was an english major and slogged through many of the classics but SKIPPED a ton of them. those russian authors slay me. :)