All right, back when I was collegiate, I lived in the Scholar’s dorm– aka everyone here is smart and well-read. That led to a fair amount of academic posturing. You had to be all, “Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem? Yeah, of course I know that theorem, who doesn’t know it? Impact of the Smoot-Hawley Tarriff act? Please, I wrote a paper on that. For extra credit. Pride and Prejudice? Yeah, I read that. I read that in 7th grade.”
Friends, I did not read Pride and Prejudice. Never have. Was supposed to junior year of high school, but… yeah. No. Now that I’m not trying to prove anything (you try being a film student in a scholars dorm surrounded by STEM people), I feel no great need to fake it.
But let’s talk about some of the classics in the genre. Because I’m unlikely to have my geek card revoked for not having read my Austen.
In genre? Let’s see. I’ve never read Lovecraft. Never read Howard. Never read Burroughs. Never read Arthur C. Clarke. Never read Leiber or Vance.
But here’s the thing: that’s OK. I’ve had a few moments at conventions, around other writers or fans, where I’ve felt that same thing creeping up my spine of, “Oh, you can’t let them know you aren’t an expert”, but I’ve long since learned to beat that down with a stick. There’s plenty of the classics I haven’t read. Plenty of new stuff I haven’t read yet, either. And I’m all right with that.