Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Great Reading Room of Commerce

I had a summer job during university selling raffle tickets for my father's service club. What this entailed was sitting in one of two malls in my hometown, six days a week, selling draw tickets for the truck behind me. This job lasted nearly 3 months. A lot of sitting still, alone. But, what I wanted was to be able to sit around and read all summer, and this job was perfect for that. Of course, it would have been more perfect to sit around in the sunshine at the lake and read, but one can't have everything. I'm sure they would have sold a lot more tickets if they had been flogged by a couple of chatty extroverts rather than one dreamy introvert. In any case, sitting alone for three months resulted in my reading a lot of classics. The public library became a good friend that summer; I would rush in shortly before the library closed and grab a couple of thick classics. I knew they would be reliable reading, both as real literature and as a way to fill a lot of time. After a few books, I started keeping track of what I read, so I wouldn't be stuck without anything new to read in my rush to check things out. I read 33 books that summer, including ones like Notre-Dame de Paris, numerous Thomas Hardy (Far from the Madding Crowd stands out in memory), and various works by Henry James.
I also read a few textbooks in preparation for the fall term, including one with a lurid cover of poison green with huge orange type reading FEMINIST THOUGHT. It gave quite a scare to a poor innocent farmer who made a joke about my reading of bodice rippers, only to have it slammed shut so he could see the title. I've never seen someone fill out a ticket so fast.
I don't think I'll ever have a chance again to sit and read 33 large classics over one summer. Oh, those lost halcyon days of being a feckless university student, content to sit in the halls of commerce, reading stories of the English countryside and the past!


  1. Basically an ideal summer!!! sigh. I used to have a fabulous job as a telephone operator and the voice mail system was basically in charge so I could read and read...

  2. Heather, Yes, it was a good summer! I've just read about someone whose job was monitoring sleep lab computers. All night to read and/or write. Wow, as a night owl I was really envious.


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