In a system where productivity is everything, it’s hard not to treat the books you read as just another item to check off your never-ending “To-Do” list. For a long time, I’ve noticed this tendency in myself and in others to read books for the sake of being able to say we’ve read them. This is especially true of literary classics, the names of which are known to anyone who has existed in this world long enough to come across a “Top 100 Books” scratch-off poster in the home of some bibliophile or other. As a lover of classics, I can personally attest that To Kill a Mockingbird, Pride and Prejudice, and Jane Eyre are all fabulous books, worthy of their places in our high school curriculum. Still, something about the way we treat classic novels really rubs me the wrong way. It’s as though we place these books on a pedestal so high that we dare not reach out our arms to really grab ‘em.
With the holidays come and gone, a new semester underway, and a fresh lockdown, I find myself in a bit of a slump. It’s too early to dream of spring flowers, yet too late for any more gingerbread or mistletoe— January, for me, felt weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable.
As I made my way over to The Scribe one autumnal morning, I was struck by the serenity of the scene before me. Even in November, I could still wear my favorite wool coat and sneakers—a rarity for all Torontonians. A few struggling leaves still clung to their branches, while the Danforth was littered with specks of orange and red. A morning without class worked its usual cure on my psyche, leaving me feeling uncharacteristically smug, smiling to myself on the street—like someone who has never heard the word “midterm” or “exam” in their life.
Short and sweet like their name, I’ve always felt that short stories are the most overlooked literary form. What’s not to love? After all, you get the satisfaction of finishing a novel without the hard work of having to read a full novel which, as a Literature student who is constantly bombarded with hundreds of pages of mandatory readings per week, I greatly appreciate.