Nowadays I wonder how I could have read so many books that were such heavy going and which I so clearly disliked. It only shows what a cowardly, deferential youth I was. Rather than find my own tastes, my own pleasures, I tortured myself by slavishly emulating someone else’s idea of a good time. Now I know that while I find Don Quixote hilarious, other readers may think of it as an overlong Monty Python sketch. To my wife, Jane Eyre is a tear-jerking source of perennial inspiration – to me, it’s a 19th-century Dawson’s Creek. But that’s all OK. We don’t have to upset our mental digestions, devouring books we find unpalatable just because other people love them. It’s no skin off anyone’s nose, least of all the dead authors’ – they don’t have skin any more. The only people who’ll be upset are a dwindling number of old-school Eng Lit academics who still think there’s a straight line of good reading from Boccaccio onwards. And we don’t even have to tell them, either.