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Every book has the right time and the right place in its life; it is a belief that I have always held firmly to. I grew up in a family of readers, where books were always present and loved, and I spent hours browsing through anthologies of fairy tales, from the Brothers Grimm to Pushkin to the Arabian nights and beyond, and classics for children. I fell asleep in front of my father reading fairy tales and Bulgarian children’s books full of humor and mishap. As I got older, mom and I would spend weekends at Barnes and Noble, reading and sipping hot drinks. No matter how many books I’ve read (and still read), however, there’s one category I’ve managed to steer clear of: the classics or the Western canon.
As a teenager, works as Pride and Prejudice were best known to me through the small screen and word of mouth. If someone asked me if I had read Oliver twist, I smiled and said yes, despite only watching the musical.
Then, the summer after graduating from high school, I decided to dabble in a bit. It was in 2012. Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris was recently released, and I was obsessed with the lost generation. I had read Hemingway’s news in high school and loved it; the follow-up was Gatsby the magnificent. I’m not sure exactly why I chose it (the 2013 Baz Luhrmann movie wasn’t even announced at that time). Guess it just looked thin enough and not threatening. Looking back, I couldn’t have picked a better book.
The day I graduated, a monster storm hit my hometown. As a result, we had no electricity for several days. In June, in Virginia, that means drinking lots of water, taking several cold showers, and constantly fanning yourself with a paper fan. But, coincidentally, I was having the same experience as Nick Caraway. His constant complaints about New York’s heat and humidity during the summer of 1922 resonated. There you have it, the connection I needed with this book! I read it at lightning speed. Gatsby the magnificent had found me at the right time in my life, so it was easy and really enjoyable to read it.
This is just one example of reading a book at the right time – a phenomenon that is probably familiar to any reader and that I continue to experience. But if the Gatsby the incident taught me something, and that is that there isn’t a particular time in life when you have to read the literary canon. Many will encounter these famous titles in their high school English and literature classes, but just because they are part of the curriculum doesn’t mean it’s the time in an individual’s life to which these works. are specifically intended.
More recently, during the holiday season, I read Little woman, which has been described to me as the perfect vacation read. When the time comes, I immerse myself in these books with enthusiasm. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what age or stage in your life (nor, for that matter, how many classics you read). What should the material is the joy of experience – an experience that takes place at the right time in the reader’s life – and the joy of sharing and discussing these literary works with others (without judgment!).