The Ultimate Intellectual Battlefield
I love to read! My particular universe becomes unhinged unless I have a good book at my side. As an author, I glean information from all types of writing—horrendous, mediocre and sublime. Most of my favorite authors write mystery, and romantic suspense, but the literary greats (Shakespeare, Jane Austen etc.) have taught me invaluable lessons about building compelling characters, creating exciting story lines and keeping the reader engaged. As they say, good writing is good writing.
From kindergarten to my second year of college, I went to Catholic schools. (I had to get married to escape to a public University.) One of the values the nuns inculcated into me, besides fear of women in black uniforms, was a reverence for books and a love of reading. Our compulsory summer reading list would send most students today into a fugue state. There were low points, of course. I recall the bleak summer between junior and senior year when I was forced to read every book ever written by Thomas Hardy. Not a fun experience. The man invented the concept of turgid prose, and should be listed right next to water-boarding as an unacceptable form of torture.
But mostly, I remember the excitement of reading Strindberg, the incredible scope of War and Peace (unabridged—1100 pages), and the slugfest our pre-feminist class engaged in after reading Ibsen’s The Doll’s House. The nuns and every male in the class sided with Torvald. (big surprise). The distaff side applauded Nora’s bravery for abandoning a life of comfort in order to save her soul. Needless to say, Terry Southern was not on the approved list. I had to stand in a drug store near the Air Force Base for two hours to read Candy.
Reading provides the ultimate intellectual battlefield — a chance to debate, learn and evaluate the great truths of the world while being entertained. I pity those who rob themselves of this pleasure.