When I was in high school, I was a book snob. Not the kind who reads only classics and turns her nose up on those whose favorite books don’t come from the bestseller list but the opposite of that. I used to think that those who claimed to love the classics were pretentious snobs. I’m not saying I was right- I definitely wasn’t- but I will try to explain why I harbored such views. You see, I grew up a book-lover. I read my sisters’ textbooks in English and Filipino when I was still too young to enter elementary school. I collected and read those little fairytale booklet freebies from Nestle Nido. I read my way through my elementary school’s collection of stories and novels before I finished grade four. (It was actually a rather measly collection.) So, when I entered high school, I fancied myself as the greatest bookworm who ever walked the dusty halls of my hundred year-old high school. What a conceited, self-centered 12 year-old I was.It’s a good thing I never voiced out such thoughts because needless to say, I was very embarrassingly wrong.
I had all these classmates who were rich enough to afford to buy brand new books from the bookstore. As for me, book sales and used bookstore were my favorite haunting places. They read these crisp copies of Paolo Coelho and Mitch Albom (not to mention the Twilight saga) fresh from the bookstore. We were a friendly bunch of kids so I got to borrow their collection and my bookshelf was open to them, too. To be completely honest, Paolo Coelho and Mitch Albom bore me. It’s just a matter of taste, I guess, (My taste still runs towards children’s literature. I’m a great fan of Beverly Cleary.) but when I was in high school, I immediately concluded everyone else my age should give them the same verdict. Those who raved about their books were clearly pretending, I decided.
Those who claimed to love the classics were even worse liars. I had trouble finishing The Count of Montecristo. There was no way my classmates understood it enough to love it. And when I tried reading Sense and Sensibility, I was bored out of my brains halfway through the book. It just wasn’t possible any girl my age got past chapter 10. Or so I thought.
Come college, I met people who read the classics, discussed them intelligently and really loved them. Nobody could fake such devotion and in the face of such evidence, I finally let go of my foolish opinions, not without shame.I came to admit that the world is just teeming with readers and bookworms whose tastes differ from mine, and whose list of books read would make mine look like a grocery store receipt from the fast lane . It’s a good thing college gave me a much-needed dose of maturity, enough to make me half-cringe and half-laugh when I think of my petty high school issues.
I have long since accepted that there are people who do enjoy Jane Austen. Still, I continued to keep the idea that she was a boring author. Two months ago, the following line wouldn’t have crossed my lips: Jane Austen writes great and her books are just bursting with her wit! I mean every word now. Last month, while I was immersed in shell balances, derivations of differential equations and C codes, I idly picked a copy of Pride and Prejudice to relieve my mind for a few minutes. It was the only novel in a shelf full of old textbooks, language dictionaries and coloring books since we have a separate shelf for novels at home. Don’t ask me how it got there.
It took only “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife” for me to get hooked. Before I knew it, I had abandoned my programming take home exam for Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy. It was with great regret that I put down the novel. It was finals week and I had deadlines rushing on to me which meant I averaged about 4 hours of sleep nightly. But between study breaks, I was able to finish the book before the semester ended.
I borrowed my sister’s copy of Emma to keep me company in the 12-hour bus ride home and I liked it even better than Pride and Prejudice. I’m not going to review either novel here but I just have to say that both books are interesting reads. I’m thinking of visiting my sister this weekend to read Persuasion and Mansfield Park. I’ll probably try Sense and Sensibility again when I get home as soon as summer term ends. I’m surprisingly getting over my prejudices. Thanks, Jane Austen.