The books we're scared to read
Fact: We surround ourselves with Dante, Milton and Orwell to hide the books we are really reading. Anything from "Harry Potter" (again), to some unknown McKay's novel for the 10th time. This happens in everyday life. We are accustomed to hiding whatever novel we think people will judge us for reading, because what we choose to read, and align with, says a lot about us.
Your first impression of me could differ greatly if I said my favorite book was "The Longest Ride" by Nicholas Sparks as opposed to a book such as "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Bronte.
It is common among students to cast aside the books we really do love to take on the guise of reading 'more intelligent' literature. There is nothing wrong with loving a good story that is well written, even if professors tell you it will never stand a chance against "The Great Gatsby" or Faust. Not many novels do, but that shouldn't stop you from reading the books and literature you truly love.
There is a notion in society that we want to be well read, and people's bookshelves reflect this.
I know someone who is a grad student studying the middle ages. He plans on studying the written word that spans thousands of years compiled from fragments of old vellum and parchment. If anyone's bookshelves should contain great literature and serve as a model to structure your own after, it would be his.
However, tucked away in the dusty corners where you might not immediately look, are various novels bearing the names of unknown "Star Wars'" authors that are strategically placed to divert attention from them to "The Complete Works of Plato" instead of the science fiction novels hiding on the bottom shelf.
If you take a closer look, you would see that the spines that have been opened thousands of times belong to the sci-fi and "Star Wars" novels. Many of the erudite 'English major books" have spines that show little evidence of being opened past the title page.
I'm reminded of the image of someone reading a 'distinguished' literary text with a comic book hidden inside the open pages. His bookshelves are a real life example of this, and I'm sure he is not the only one.
My bookshelves are like this too. I choose to leave the books that will possibly be judged at home and bring the nice copies of things that make me look cultured to school with me each fall.
By carrying around an untrue persona, we deny ourselves the possibility to connect with other people outside of the fake realm we have created. There is something dishonest and unethical about pretending we care more about Anna Karenina's death than acknowledging the truth of how upset we were when Remus Lupin died.
The books we are scared to read are often the ones that have changed us, and impacted us. Reading what we truly like to read is good, because it reminds us why we study new texts.
It is often in cheap McKay novels that I am pointed to ideas that go beyond the author's okay-writing and his clichés. So, the next time someone asks me what I'm reading, and what's hiding on my bookshelf, I'm going to be honest and tell them it's probably not what I'm reading for English class. And that's perfectly okay.