Just When You’re Ready to Give Up on the Younger Generation . . .

Yesterday, a student came up to the circulation desk asking for Machiavelli’s The Prince. Since our upstairs area is still sealed off from students during the renovations, I went to get the book. Now I know that Machiavelli is in the Comp II book, so I assumed he was writing a paper and wanted to see the whole thing. So I picked up a few others as well that might help him with his research paper.

I gave him the book and showed the others. “You’re doing a research paper for comp, right? These might help.”

He shook his head. “No, I’m just reading it.” He told me that he had found a site of 100 books every man should read, and he was working his way through them.

I was quite impressed. Even more so, when he told me that he was behind on the list because reading one book by an author would cause him to read everything the person had written.

Sometimes, at our happy hours, my colleagues in the English department and I complain that no one reads any more, but then a student like this comes along. And my optimism rises again.

For those of you interested in the reading lists, here are some:

100 Must-Read Books: The Essential Man’s Library

Books that Everyone Should Read at Least Once

All Time 100 Novels

A basic search of reading lists will pull up many more. And if lists keep you reading, then go for it. But like my student, I hope that any list is simply a jumping-off point for deeper adventures into the works of one author or one era, or a departure point for something entirely different.


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