I am on a quest, a quest to be well read.
I have always loved reading. When I was little, my nose was always in a book. I acquired the ability to close out the world around me and fall entirely into the created world I was reading. Although my parents were happy that I liked to read, this particular trait irritated them when we took a trip to the Badlands in South Dakota and I was too immersed in my book to look out the window. Yet when I was sixteen, my reading habits took a significant turn. Up to that point, I read whatever subject was interesting to me at the time. I went through a phase of horse-back riding books; the teen dramas of "Sweet Valley High"; an obsession with the author Caroline B. Cooney; a long mystery genre phase, encompassing everything from Nancy Drew to Agatha Christie; and various books in between. However, near the beginning of my sophomore year in high school, I decided to read Uncle Tom's Cabin in my free time. Although it was not the first time I had read what one could call "Classic Literature," it was the first time that I decided to do it on my own. Once I got into the story, I was so invested in the characters and plot that I couldn't put the book down. I read the second half of the book all in one sitting, unable to think about anything else. For the first time in my life, I actually cried for the characters and felt emotionally attached to them. When I finished, I had to set the book in my lap and process what I had just read through the emotions in my heart. I was never the same reader again.
Now let me take a minute to say that my feelings about Uncle Tom's Cabin have somewhat changed through my years of academia. My eyes have been opened to the objections to the book, and I can't bring myself to put it among my favorite books of all time because I do believe some of these objections are valid. In a future post, I will address this in more detail and open it up for discussion because I believe it is worth discussing. But for the purposes of this introduction, I will say no more about that now. The important thing about this book to me is the way it changed my appreciation for literature.
Because I loved reading Uncle Tom's Cabin so much, I realized that I needed to read more "Classic Literature." I made a commitment that from that moment forward, I would select classics for my free-time reading and set aside all the other books in which I had indulged in the past. I thus consciously began my quest to be well read, a quest that will last my lifetime. For every book I cross off my list, I feel like I add five more. It has been quite a few years since that first inspirational reading, and I have conquered and enjoyed many great books because of it. However, I do not feel like I am "well read" yet, and I continue to press on in my project.
A very important thing I have learned about my quest along the way has been the significance of sharing it with others. Some of the best books I've read were recommendations from friends who also love to read. I have discovered incredible authors just by talking with other book lovers. And I don't think I can ever fully appreciate a book unless I've had an opportunity to discuss it with someone else. So this is The Literature Quest, or "The Lit Quest." I hope to form a network of book lovers who can join me on my quest and share in it with me. I want to hear your thoughts, opinions, and recommendations. I want to read and talk about literature.