Reading for pleasure, what an odd notion

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This afternoon a girl, I could say a young woman but trivial hypocrisies do mischief, came in the shop looking for a copy of Lolita. Too my eye she looked sixteen at most but was in conspicuous health and had an enviable complexion. Maybe she was 21 and had the mixed blessing of looking younger than her age.

While checking to see if we had a copy I asked her if she attended Durham Academy or Friend's School, two of the most progressive schools around here. I said I couldn't imagine a Durham public school being brave enough to teach Lolita. Her reply was that she was reading the book for pleasure.

After she left we didn't have a copy, almost no Nabokov on the shelves I wished I'd apologized. The ageism of my place and profession. Most of the youths I witness buy books are already prematurely weary at the grim prospect of reading an assigned text.


“Lolita” definitely hasn’t made the assigned reading lists up here in New England but it continues to sell steadily as a word-of-mouth or maybe word-of-weblog favorite, mostly to high-school or college-aged females, at least in our shop. Not sure how that plays out sociologically, though I’ve got my theories. A new “Catcher in the Rye” for the post-Francesca-Lia-Block set? Curiouser and curiouser.

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Reading for pleasure, what an odd notion
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