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Dear Maggie,

I’m sorry. It looks like I’m abandoning the Mark Twain ship. Well, not abandoning, more like mooring said ship in long-term dockage. I am speaking of our lovely book club selection, of course.

My excuse is terribly flimsy. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court is somewhat intriguing, especially for a classic. I’m just incredibly distracted by the many other lovely books trickling home from work and piling up on my desk.

Connecticut Yankee has brought out my stubborn side. I’ve been very slow in reading it because I don’t find it engaging enough to keep me focused but at the same time I’ve been refusing to let myself quit. As a result, it has taken me two weeks to reach 100 pages when I usually would have gone through a couple of books by now. If I was over half-way through at this point, I’d probably keep going but, alas, I am not.

I don’t even have the excuse of Connecticut Yankee being a bad book. It’s not my favorite, but it’s not bad. It does have quite a lot of proselytizing about the greatness of America and the idiocy of England. But it’s Mark Freaking Twain. He, by the laws of the universe, can’t be bad.

That brings me to my issue with the so-called classics. We judge books in this category by an entirely different criterion. It is not whether they are fun to read and you stayed up until three to finish that determines whether they are “good.” No no no. It is whether or not they are tolerable and if you feel literarily enlightened by the end. They are good because the Powers That Be have proclaimed them so. If, by some strange occurrence, you DO legitimately enjoy the book it is cause for celebration and a smidgen of pride. You (little old YOU!) were able to read and enjoy such a book. A notch on your classics bedpost, as it were. I am incredibly guilty of this (I’ve read all the Austens for fun. And Jane Eyre. And North and South. Oh yeah. I am awesome).

It is even more impressive if you read classics unassigned. I think that in lies my problem with Connecticut Yankee. Somehow it got placed into the “assigned reading” category of my brain. For me, that is the ruin of any book, no matter how good. I remember dreading assigned reading in elementary school because I just knew that whatever book they gave us would be ruined FOREVER. Johnny Tremain and The Egypt Game met this fate. I refused to read The Giver in school for years and thank goodness I did because it’s now one of my favorites.

So poor Mark Twain is being put on hold. It’s sad because I genuinely want to read more Twain. But I also want to read, period, which I’ve not been doing as much because of Connecticut Yankee-avoidance. It’s simply my mind-at-the-moment’s fault, not the book’s, and hopefully I will come back to it in the near future.

Gosh, from this blog you’d think I quit my books half-way through all the time. I swear that is not the case!

Good luck on your Twain reading,

Kelsey

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