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An Education (or Should I be reading all the Classics?)


This past weekend, The Boy and I were out for dinner at uni friends of mine. They’re a lovely couple and dinner was delicious, albeit a bit hot under the collar thanks to the very modern floodlights in the living room combined with 36 degrees outside. Let’s just say those two or three ciders I enjoyed were very refreshing.

We were driving home when The Boy turned to me (metaphorically of course – he kept his eyes on the road) and said ‘you know, sometimes I just feel a bit, well, uneducated when I’m around them’ and while I disagreed with him being uneducated, I knew exactly what he meant. I feel the same way. Not to say either of us are uneducated but we value different things and have different strengths. I like to think of myself as well-read and literate but I realized this weekend that I’m the equivalent of a teenager at the adult’s dinner table. I read a lot but I’ve never read many of the books on my friend’s bookshelf – no Updike, no Hemingway, no Russian tomes. I’m anti Ayn Rand but really, that’s based on reading half of Atlas Shrugged when I was 15 and not really anything else. I feel like there’s this assumption that because I’m doing my Masters, I should have read all these things years ago and be able to debate the merits of libertarianism and Objectivism with the best of them.

Is it ridiculous that I haven’t read these fine authors because, well, I’m really not interested? Should I forfeit my university degree? Hand over my diploma for a lack of intellect or education?

I’m one of those who really believes that we all have our own strengths and passions – listening to The Boy talk about the American Civil War or (God help me) zombies, or anything to do with technology leaves me in awe because he knows so much more than I do. But I can’t help but feel as if I’m missing out by being keener on popular fiction than classic literature, for choosing reality TV over Casablanca (which I have seen but really only recently).

Should I put down the remote and dedicate myself to reading Proust? Or do you have any suggestions of classics I should read to educate myself?



Writer, editor, wife, mother. I snatch moments to myself to read between nappy changes, work and chasing a toddler who is determined to destroy ALL THE THINGS. Welcome.

4 thoughts on “An Education (or Should I be reading all the Classics?)

  1. “I’m anti Ayn Rand”

    She shouldn’t be mentioned in connection with classic literature. It’s just a poorly written political fantasy rant from someone who was mentally ill.

    Otherwise, I reckon anyone who can tick off more than half the Telegraph’s list of 100 books everyone should read ( is cultured enough.

    There will almost certainly be plenty to interest you in this list – most of them are not difficult to read.

    1. That’s definitely a great list – I’ve read a few of them already but I could always add to it – would be good to get to the half-way mark at least.

    1. I always think I’ve read The Great Gatsby but I actually think it’s just because I know the story so well from popular culture! It’s on my list!

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