26 March 2008

A Memory and a Book

When I was in high school, I had one of those teachers that you remember forever. He taught English in my 11th and 12th grade years. One day, he gave us a list of his reading recommendations. It was several typed and photocopied sheets. The list seemed enormously long. I remember being quite in awe of the fact that one man had read all those books. I also remember thinking I had a lot of catching up to do.

In the years since, I have to come to truly appreciate the advantage of age in these matters. Simply put, a human being can read quite a few books in one year and seeing as how my teacher was nearing retirement age, he had a clear advantage. His list is now in a binder in my parent's attic, but I still pull it out once in a while to check my progress and remind myself of his excellent taste. Even after all these years, there's a lot more reading to be done!

One of the best tips from the list is the author P.G. Wodehouse. If I'm not mistaken the entry reads something like, "nearly 100 titles, all humorous, especially Jeeves series." Now, Wodehouse lived from 1881 - 1975, so it might seem that his books would be a bit stuffy or old fashioned, especially since they fall squarely into the humor category. Really, though, they're great. They poke fun at exactly the stuffiness you might expect and it's great fun to read. I now own a number of Wodehouse titles, including a hardcover Jeeves collection found at a thrift store that I actually read straight through.

Piccadilly Jim is the first non-Jeeves title I've read, but it was fun. It's a classic story of rich boy gone wrong, mistaken identity, love, foiled plots, and slapstick level comedy. And of course, there is the necessary highly annoying young relative, just to mix things up a bit. If you need a relaxing read, try Wodehouse. Just be warned, it may be habit forming!

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