Recently, someone I know has been implying I don't read enough good books. The reason she most frequently cites is because I haven't read enough Mark Twain. I find Mark Twain's subject matter and style uninteresting at best and annoying at worst. I blame this on a difference in taste. I don't believe I can do better than Mark Twain did. Quite the contrary, I'm certain there's a reason his works are considered classics. I believe Mr. Twain is most known for his tone. He has a sort of snark laden mischief in his wordplay that would be difficult to replicate. And his stories are enduring, with memorable characters. I'm sure many of you would agree with her, that I should read Mark Twain because he is a great writer who has written "good books."
That said, I have certain preconceived notions, as one of my past instructors would put it. Those preconceived notions concern my vision of Mr. Twain, which is that he was a smarmy, self satisfied person. I find little of interest in coming of age stories of boys having unlikely adventures in the recent American past. He lived contemporary to many other authors who wrote in a tone I would more greatly enjoy and on topics that I would find more relevant. I do not argue that Mr. Twain is a great author, merely that he is not the sort of author whose work I enjoy.
What more greatly intrigues me is the statement that I do not spend enough time reading "good books." I suppose the purpose of this blog is not so much to prove to her or to myself that I read enough of them, but instead to find out what "good books" are for me.
This blog is not about reviewing books I've read in the past that I enjoyed. It's about starting over, a tabula rasa of reading. From this point on, I'm approaching reading afresh. I'm going to reread my old favorites with new eyes, and I'm going to give Mr. Twain a chance. I'm going to scratch some titles off my to-do list, but I'm also going to pick out some dark horses. And then I'm going to set them before you with my honest impression of what I've seen.
Along the way, I hope to learn what a "good book" is, and use that knowledge to improve my own writing.