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I've Never Read Robinson Crusoe (FHF #1)

I've Never Read Robinson Crusoe (FHF #1)

Hello, everyone! Thanks for stopping by! This week marks the start of a new blogging series called Five-hundred Fridays. For now, all genres, topics and styles are fair game. The only regularities for Five-hundred Fridays posts are that they'll consist of ~500 words and be posted on Fridays (frequency to be determined). I think it'll be a fun way to scrutinize writing and develop succinct arguments, as I have a habit of being quite verbose. It also gives you, my cherished readers, quick digestible reads unlike some of my longer posts (here and here). As always, I hope you enjoy!

I've never read Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. Published in 1719 and heralded as the founder of realistic fiction as a literary genre, it's one of those must-read greats.

I was in the second grade when I first encountered the novel. Me and my best friend at the time—we'll call him Peter—would often share books we liked. We rhapsodized about A Series of Unfortunate Events and praised every Roald Dhal novel. At some point, with our juvenile naiveté, we even tried to write a fiction series about a teenager with powers (classic, I know). It was with Peter that I first experienced freedom as a kid. At seven, I was finally old enough to play basketball at the park or table tennis at his house. It was during one of our after-school hangouts when told me about Robinson Cruosoe, sharing the adventure and characters that captivated him.

Around the same time, Gifted classes began to pull the high performers away from their peers. I always idolized Peter for his intelligence, so when he passed the gifted test and I didn't, the rejection stung more. For some time, I tried to prove that I belonged in Gifted. I recall excitedly sharing my solutions to brain teasers, hoping that if the Gifted teacher saw them, I could weasel into the group. But it never happened.

Back then I didn't recognize Robinson Crusoe for its historical significance; to me, it was a benchmark. A test of my giftedness. I remember seeing the novel on the miniature birch bookshelf and immediately recognizing its behemoth size at 300 pages. Even more overwhelming was the content itself. Despite my feverish attempts at reading, every line lacked meaning, to the point where paragraphs became nothing more but globs of ink decorated by whitespace.

I was devastated. Devastated because I couldn't enjoy the promised adventure that awaited between the covers and devastated because Peter would eventually know. So, I didn't tell him. When he eventually asked me about the book, I'm certain I lied and told him I was reading it, knowing well it sat in my bag untouched.

Since then, fourteen years later, Peter and I haven't spoken since we parted ways for middle school and I no longer tie my worth to book lengths. But I still haven't read Robinson Crusoe. I debated reading it to triumphantly signify my growth as a reader and a person. Then I realized, I don't really care to. In second grade, to no fault of mine, I let a novel decide my personal worth and cause me too much anxiety. But now, I'm learning to disregard the Robinson Crusoes of my life and define my worth for me.

w.c.: 450

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