…to complain. I wrote a blog last week about the inaccessibility of Milton’s Paradise Lost as I have been working my way through it during my commute to school.
I want to preface this story with the fact that I read a lot on the bus. (I have nothing else to do for the hour and a half that is my commute.) And rarely do people ever stop and ask me about what I’m reading.
Two previous occasions that such a thing did occur were (1) a woman saw I was reading A Storm of Swords and told me it was a good book, and (2) another woman saw I was reading Ender’s Game and encouraged me to read the sequels…which I now plan to do.
However, those conversations never went anywhere after that. Until recently, when two people noticed that I was reading the (in)famous Paradise Lost.
And for some reason, with this book and no other, I end up in a deep conversation about literature. The first one was about Satan as a dark hero and Dante’s comedy and plot twists in Shakespeare. The second was about Jane Austen and science fiction and John Donne and how the disappointing ending of Mockingjay was part of the reader’s experience and the political aspects of The Hunger Games Trilogy as a whole.
Pretty deep for a daily commute, I would think. And they all started with “I noticed you were reading Paradise Lost. Difficult read isn’t it?” And they didn’t even go to my school.
I’ve gotten to the part of this post where I’m not really sure where I was going with this, and yet I knew I wanted to share it. I’m not trying to convince you to spark conversation with people you meet on public transit, and I’m not trying to get you to read Paradise Lost so you can complain about it with others (though it is fairly enjoyable).
I guess this is more of a thank you to anyone and everyone who likes to talk about books. That books are not just a gateway to a fictional world, but bridges to people in the real world as well. And especially to the guy on the bus and the man on the train–it was a welcome and pleasant change to my daily routine.
And (I guess) to Milton, because he’s the reason why those conversations ever started in the first place.
“The most technologically efficient machine that man has ever invented is the book.” –Northrop Frye