My first literary epiphany.
But I've always read more in terms of quantity than quality. I read very quickly, but getting through a lot of pages comes at the expense of retention--ask me what a book was about a few months (or weeks) after I've finished it, and I'm normally at a loss. Reading quickly helps in school--I've never not finished a book (I'm going to use "book" to imply something fictional here) for a class (high school or college). Granted, this wasn't too hard, because we didn't have THAT much to read in high school, and in college I usually took only one reading-intensive class per semester, and the rest of my course slots were filled with organic chemistry and differential equations. (Seriously, those 2 semesters of differential equations were probably the biggest waste of time in terms of when-will-I-use-this-in-real-life-terms. With orgo, I can read big chemical names on processed food packages and stuff, but differential equations?)
Plus, in college I normally took courses with "fun" reading instead of classes involving a lot of literary criticism--my very first semester at school I took a class called "Literary Animals" (we read literature written from animals' perspectives), and if I remember correctly, my final project involved reading a book about this horse and then taking an oral exam where the professor asked me questions and I had to respond from the point of view of the horse. (At this point, my parents are thinking, "we paid $30,000 a year for THIS?")
What I'm trying to say is that while I love to read, I'm not one of those people who can give you a cogent, insightful criticism of a book. So imagine my surprise when I was reading Lolita (I've read it twice before, but I'm rereading it for our December book club) and I came across a number of references Nabokov makes to another famous literary work. (I'm being deliberately vague here, because we haven't had our book club meeting yet, and some of the members might read this.) I was so happy! My first literary epiphany!
And then the next morning, I googled my discovery (don't click if you're in the book club and haven't finished the book!), and I found pages and pages of text written about this. Was I upset? Hell no! I don't care if this is something every high school kid learns in class. I discovered it by myself! I'm validated by published literary criticism!
Differential equations were nowhere near this exciting.