4. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. This popular indictment of the Jazz Age, viewed by many as the highlight of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s tortured career, was lost on me completely. While I correctly viewed Daisy as vapid, I completely missed who Gatsby was as a character. Shaking my head as I moved quickly through the book as a preteen, I kept thinking, “Jeez, guys, cut Gatsby a break! He throws great parties! Daisy should BE so lucky!”
Even though this is Barnes & Noble (boo! hiss! says the Books-A-Million employee), I liked this and COMPLETELY agree: there are books we read as kids, and there are books that we actually understand as adults. A lot of the times, the books I did not like as a teen, I also did not like as an adult (see The Scarlet Letter). But then, sometimes I change my mind (see Emma).
This is why my Revisiting the Classics Project is so important. Yes, sometimes it seems like a waste of time to be re-reading books from high school/college, particularly ones I didn’t like in the first place. After all, there are so many other books out there. But what is reading if not understanding, and I’d rather read fewer books over my lifetime, all the while seeking to fully understand all of them.