I wonder, sometimes, if I am an intellectual coward. I have tried to read James Joyce, and Dickens, and have abandoned the attempts. It took me a long time to read books without a lot of pictures when I was a kid, although once I started I became a ravenous reader. But I never much went for the classics. My first sister-in-law gave me a pile of books, which I spent a summer reading. Ayn Rand, George Orwell, H. Rider Haggard, I suspect books she'd had to read for senior year of high school. None of it really stays with me. Big ideas, very literary, but I closed them, undrawn. I had to memorize poems in school, and managed a few, only to forget them in disinterest. I did like Robinson Crusoe, and other children's classics, although I found them long past childhood.
Honestly, though, almost any book given to me as Literature, has left me a bit cold. Nor do I like the Best Sellers, and hated the last few I've read because they were popular, recommended. I read anything when I was young, nowadays I'm much more likely to re-read an author who speaks to me. I struggled through the twists of my first Le Carre novel, with the help of D. And felt very proud of myself for the effort. I prefer the stories that suck me in and never let me go. So, maybe just lazy when it comes to books. Maybe secondary to nursing school, years where I read nothing but Douglas Adams and Robert Aspirin. Now, I'm reading light mysteries with Groucho Marx as a character.
Read a book with a lovely little love story, but which, in the end, left a bitter taste. A Sudanese woman in Edinburgh, grieving, widowed, lost, falls for a Arabic scholar who nevertheless does not convert to Islam. They slowly, warmly fall in love. Until he asserts that he cannot convert, she leaves to live with her family. He does convert, and they reunite. She would never accept him because of her religious obedience. He would have accepted her no matter what. And I can't help but feel he got the raw end of the deal. That a real love story would have had her accepting him without faith, as he accepted her with her faith.
She bases her faith on the miracle of the koran, that it is the word of God, Allah. Well, Joseph Smith says the same thing of the Book of Mormon. Most of the big prophets claim it's not them, but GOD who speaks. Having that faith is beyond my comprehension, but I accept that it is a real phenomenon. That people of faith are sincere and devoted, and that they find comfort in that well defined spirituality. When love has to pass through that filter, it shouldn't change. It shouldn't be a condition on love. Real love has to be wholly accepting, transcendent. Not that it ever has to settle or compromise, but once it becomes love, then neither should change to make it fit.
So, I consider my other tastes. Musically, I like classical pretty well, and hate pop, but what I take into my heart is the offbeat, the world stuff that hides in the corners, raw vital with complex rhythms and a sly humor. I do like great art, but I have a preference for the somewhat inexplicable. Jan Van Eyke more than Reubens, Oldenberg more than Picasso, the ones I would have in my home (as if) are not the most famous or respected.