David Copperfield

My preference is for history. I can read fiction, but only if I suspect the events depicted have a firm basis in fact. My friend Lyla, knowing my debilitation in this area, is adept at suggesting fiction which might suck me in due to its historical content. She suggested Shakespeare’s Richard II last winter, and sure enough, I finished it, the first Shakespeare play I have read since college. Last week she suggested Dickens’ David Copperfield, and I have been entranced by it.

The copy I am reading has been musting away on my mother’s bookshelf for thirty years. The pages are yellow and brittle. The binding of the paperback crunches when you open the book. I suspect that pages will be falling out by the time I get done with it.

At the various times when I came home to spend days, weeks or months in my parents basement, David Copperfield and other classics stared at me from the shelf, an indictment, it seemed to me, of an education which never once forced me to read Dickens or anything else of substance, for that matter.

But what fun to discover David Copperfield at the recommendation of Lyla rather through the requirements of a class. Once you get into the novel and the characters come alive, reading the book becomes a refuge rather the sort of dismal intellectual duty reading such works was in college.

Gosh, I remember how I plowed through the pages in college, so proud to finish thirty pages in a sitting. If I went 20 pages without looking at the page numbers, it was a major victory. It took a while after graduate school to realize that if I was counting pages, I probably shouldn’t be reading what I was reading. I no longer needed to read anything. For the first time since sixth grade, when I wandered the elementary library at Fertile-Beltrami school and read what struck my fancy, I was free to enjoy reading and read what I pleased, if I pleased!