A Literary Re-Education is my attempt to read all those books that I feel I should have read but have never got round to and I suspect, as I get going with this, I will discover many other essential reads that I never even knew existed.
I have a degree in English Literature and was a secondary school English teacher for five years before following my husband across the world as a trailing spouse (you can read about that here). Yet, despite reading enthusiastically for my whole life (on average a book a week in recent years before my son was born in 2014), there are enormous gaps in my reading knowledge. I’m talking unread Shakespearean classics, modern masterpieces and influential mainstays of English literature, not to mention the gaping chasm of world literature.
I used to think that these shortcomings would be resolved with time; I thought that as I got older I would become one of those people who can spout off quotations at will and who has obviously read everything. But, more than ten years after leaving university, I have still not read Othello (there, I admitted it) and will probably continue to lie about that and other texts of the literary canon that I have not yet picked up, because how can anyone not have read them?
I know already that I will never be able to conquer all the books that I want to read, and I am not going to pretend that I will manage to read a book a week with a baby-turning-into-a-toddler on my hands and other challenges of every-day life to contend with. However, I have been putting this off for more than ten years and I know that there will never be an ideal time to start, so I am beginning now.
This blog is where I will document my attempt to become well-read, whatever that entails. It is a place where I will not hide my literary short-comings or lie to you about how difficult I found one of the great works of fiction. It is a place where I hope other people will come forward and be united in learning, in ignorance, and in the joy of reading.
This is a personal attempt at re-educating myself, and many of the books will be personal choices. But I will be basing many of my selections on various lists of influential and ‘must-read’ books, such as The BBC’s top 100 books and other such compilations. I will also be reading modern fiction because there are so many worthy books coming out all the time that I don’t want to ignore, and because I want to read the books that everyone else is getting excited about.
I am not going to list all of the books I want to read, but I will select fifty classics to start off with so that I can sign up to the Classics Club. The rest will be decided upon as I go along, as the fancy takes me or as the suggestions come in.
Please join me on my journey, whether you are re-reading, discovering a new read, or just want to observe. And feel free to point me in the direction of books you have loved or are yet to conquer in the comments section.