A decorative library

I’ve started reading The Great Gatsby for what may be the first time? I’m unsure. I read an article recently about certain books that everyone claims to have read, but not many really have, and Gatsby was one of them.

I always thought I read it in high-school, and always marked it off as ‘read’ in lists of classics people should read, but thinking about it, I can’t really remember anything about it other than some vague idea of there being a car crash in it. So! I’m reading (listening to) it again, to make doubly sure I can check it off that list.

First impressions are, sadly, not leaving much of an impression. It seems very uninteresting until, (just now) we reach the party at Gatsby’s house (at which there is indeed a car accident…)

Aside from the enigmatic Gatsby, something that happened during the party caught my mind

One drunken character is looking about Gatsby’s library, and is astounded that all the books are real. He pulls one off the shelf to show the narrator, and points out how it is an actual book. “Such attention to realism!” he says. At no point, it seems, does the idea that someone might want books for reading cross his mind. Appearing to be one who reads is all that matters. Even upon finding that the books are real, all he can think is that this is great dedication to being realistic, rather than that anyone might be actually be reading the books.

This reminds me, somehow, of the trend in furniture and decoration to look worn, while being brand new. Desks or end tables or dressers are painted so as to look scuffed and dented and used when they are brand new mass manufactured pieces. People want the appearance of history and use, without actually having to go through all the steps to get there.

And maybe people want the appearance of being well read, by having shelves stocked with all the right titles, without actually ever reading any of them…

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