Being a Reader in 2018

I love to read. Victor Hugo, James Fenimore Cooper, Arthur Conan Doyle, Alexandre Dumas, J. R. R. Tolkein, G. K. Chesterton, John le Carré, Susanna Clarke, and James Herriot are some of my favorite authors; I love a deep, complex plot, written by someone who can really work magic with the words, and the longer the book the better. I love classic literature, and I despise fluff. I want a really good, meaningful story, please, with a side of original, non-shallow characters and not-too-predictable plot. No cotton candy literature for me, thanks. I realize this makes me sound like a literary snob. That’s because I am. Sorry.

The thing about my zeal for good books is that it has expanded my vocabulary. (Well, that and my subscription to Word of the Day.) For example, James Fenimore Cooper uses the word “animadversion,” you say “WTH is that,” you look it up, and thus, you have expanded your vocabulary. (Though in this case you’ll probably never use the word, but still.) And since I started college and have been hanging around a great deal more non-homeschooled people my age, I have begun to notice that people don’t understand what I say. Not always, but fairly regularly, I have to explain words I use to people. It’s really weird. It’s not like I go around using big huge words all the time. I really don’t. But honestly, when I say “lament,” I really don’t expect to have to explain myself. It’s an everyday word to me. Sometimes I feel like I am speaking a different language. Today in English, the students had to take turns reading aloud, and gawd, was that an excruciating process. Nobody knew “vestige,” “begrudge,” and a host of other seemingly easy words. Surely everybody in the class couldn’t be dyslexic except me, could they?

I’m not proposing that people go around being walking talking dictionaries, but I sort of feel like language is being lost. Our vocabularies are becoming so much smaller these days. Surely, in order to speak and write accurately and eloquently, we need to know more than just the most basic of basic words. How can we say what we truly mean, express ourselves, and get our points across accurately without the words to do so?

There’s my lament for the day.


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