The Sweet Tooth

“It’s amazing that you still haven’t read Anna Karenina. And you call yourself an English major.”

“It’s not that I haven’t tried. There’s something about the title that sets me off Karenina… Kar-nin-nin-a. I want to pronounce it like an engine revving. Is that weird? Don’t answer that. Maybe it’s just that I get so much pleasure from imagining that I’ll like it, filling up my bookshelf with things I’m meant to read, someday, when I have the time. Actually sitting down and reading it, getting into the nitty gritty of consuming, well that’s something else altogether. I can’t promise we’ll get along. Me and Tolstoy, I mean. So I put it off. I like the thought of liking him.”

By now she’d stirred three helpings of sugar into her coffee without really thinking about it, one at a time, little granules covered her saucer and the reach of her teaspoon. She paused for a moment mid-flight while she studied her new friend across the table, and then scooped another lump into her cup.

“Of course, I don’t want to be one of those people that reads things just because they’re on a million different lists or worse, avoids things because they are intimidatingly popular. I want to want things in my own time. I hate that I can’t just come to it on my own now, it’s already been claimed as this great classic of the world. What if I hate it? Won’t that say more about me than Tolstoy?”

“Only as much as your sweet tooth says about sugar.”

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