Some readers read like college professors, memorizing interesting paragraphs and delving into every – and I mean EVERY – facet of the book. How do they do it? I admit I am in awe of them. Their reading has a scholarly approach, analyzing and comparing the themes or writing style from one book to the other with the amazing result that they sound smart – or even intellectual – when they say stuff such as, “I much prefer the literary connotations in X instead of the literary clichés in the earlier Y.”
Know anyone like this?
Oh dear…. I think to myself. The horned gremlin on my shoulder expounds, “Intellectuals are so annoying.” The angelic fairy, nervously wringing her hands on my other shoulder, adds, “And so intimidating.”
My theory is that this marks one of the great divides between the literati and readers like me. The literati view books as intellectual pursuits – the means by which they develop their mind.
I view books as imaginary journeys into foreign lives and read for the story. If a theme strikes a chord or leads to a thought-process: HURRAY! Nevertheless, I read with my heart and enjoy the winding path of the story more than anything else.
I have vivid memories of one of my teachers from high school, trying to guide the class through Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being – and I did not get it. The story did not intrigue me nor did it make me curious. It was the insurmountable mountain of reading that caused heavy sighs and rolling eyes within minutes.
Today, I cannot even remember the storyline; it was lost in intellectual pursuit. I understand that my teacher wanted to give us the experience the transcendence of reading literature, but it is not something you can gift another. In my opinion, however, it can be achieved with any old story – not just intellectual literature.