Goeun Park: Reading is everything, regardless of genre
The day before I left Detroit Lakes for college, I bought a typewriter from the Boys & Girls Thrift Store.
I picked it out like I would pick a puppy from a pet store — meticulously, hopefully and ecstatically. With $8 on the line, this was very serious business indeed.
Eventually, I walked out of the thrift store with a heavy tan box and an immense sense of satisfaction. On the car ride home, my friend Donna and I joked that I would write all my essays on the new typewriter. Overestimating my motivation for the upcoming school year, I thought I would actually give that whim a try.
Since then, I’ve used the typewriter sparingly. These days, it gathers dust as a glorified paperweight. This situation is depressingly similar to my attitude to literature as of late.
The number of books I’ve read for pleasure this year is embarrassingly small. The last book I read for enjoyment was Neil Gaiman’s “The Ocean at The End of The Lane.” (It’s a stunning novel, and if you enjoy having your heart viciously ripped out, I wholeheartedly recommend it.) The second to last book I read for fun was too long ago to remember.
I’ve been busy, I told myself. I have important things to do, I reminded myself. And truth be told, I’ve been reading more than ever. I’m analyzing works by Austen, Thucydides, Shakespeare and the like. I’ve been hoarding classics under my belt nonstop.
I’ve been adding to my collection of witty cocktail conversation starters. It’s basically all I ever wanted.
So of course, when I actually got what I wanted, I decided it wasn’t enough. Rather, it was too much. Reading medieval accounts of courtly love can entertain my short attention span for so long.
There’s reason why people aren’t in a rush to buy The Canterbury Tales from the nearest bookstore. Capital G “Great Books” aren’t exactly the easiest genre to plow through.
While I have few positive things to say about ninth grade, the lack of distinction between “good” literature and “bad” literature back then was nothing short of wonderful. I didn’t realize then how fun it was to shamelessly follow the hype and indulge in every clichéd YA novels and 10-cent romances.
Somewhere along the way, I convinced myself that I was above reading for fun. I was an adult so I should read “adult” books. It was a simple enough (and hilariously wrong) thought.
While writing this column, I think I’ve come to terms on what reading means to me. For most of my childhood, it meant everything. That’s still pretty much the case.
I’m going to claim all of it — the good, the bad and the really bad. So excuse me as I enjoy every second of my utterly unprofound vampire fantasy book.
Goeun Park graduated from Detroit Lakes High School and attends college in California.