I handle books on a daily basis. I talk about them and I am told about them. I order them. I try to fill the library shelves with variety, keep clean copies of classics, and order bestsellers. What are books but big ideas. I’m not interested in being entertained but some readers seek it.
I found Bleak House on the shelf. I had ordered it as a classic from a list I use to help with my selections. Dickens’s best it had said. When it arrived several years ago, I shook my head and smiled thinking I had made a mistake. No one in my library would read this enormous book, no matter how entertaining or instructive.
But I am.
A few days ago, I was looking for descriptions of the slums in Victorian England, so I took the book home and began reading. If my iPad hadn’t been stolen, I would download it. The book is a trial for me to hold, one thousand pages and tiny print.
As a reader, I am mystified by it and fog filled London. Dickens chastises his world. He wanted me to feel that and I do even though his world is gone. Or is it? He cared as a writer about what I would think. It’s grand to converse with a genius.
When I am done, I will put the book back. The next someone who asks my opinion about a good book, I will mention Dickens. What a storyteller! I am over bestseller lists right now and on the trail of those whose names we know so well but have forgotten.
My last brush with this was Walt Whitman.
“They had time to think,” the English teacher said.
I can’t dismiss his passing comment.