Aesop’s Analysis

The famous fables, sibling rivalry, and why my brother is always wrong.


February is the month of love, so naturally I decided to write about sibling rivalry and reading preferences. Am I really going to take favorite childhood fables completely out of context for this article? Yes, yes, I am. Because how else do those of us who have siblings explain why we are always right and read novels the correct way? Fables. Clearly.



The Tortoise and the Hare
My brother is a very slow reader. It takes him eons to get through a novel. I guess you could say that he savors every page. I’m the opposite. If I don’t read several novels a week, I start to get jittery. We both spend roughly the same amount of time reading, but while he’ll get through one book, I’ll have read four or five.

Ha! I get more books! Hmm, wait. The Tortoise actually wins the race. Well, that parable sucked. There’s got to be one where the Hare wins, right?

Sour Grapes
My brother also remembers practically every line of a book he reads. He can tell you all the intricate details, the clever plot twists, and the quirks of different characters. I mean, like 20 years later. He never forgets a book. I, on the other hand, forget lots of salient points and have, on occasion, forgotten entirely that I read a particular book. Three weeks after reading certain novels, I can barely remember the plot, much less the main character’s name. I’ve given up debating with him about books we’ve both read because he pretty much schools me. Every. Single. Time.

Yeah, okay, this fable doesn’t support my need to show my brother the “right way” to read, but it’s aptly applied to the situation.

The Dog and His Bone
My brother also reads primarily science fiction and fantasy. He has no interest in branching into other genres, whether literary, mystery, romance, or any of the other categories booksellers use to tempt us to buy their wares. I, on the other hand, like to read omnivorously across genres. This is clearly the “right way” to read.

Huh, in the fable, the dog gets greedy and loses his bone in the end. This is perhaps not the best example to support my point.

Under the Lion’s Skin
In the last few years, I’ve switched to mostly e-books. My e-reader is practically an appendage. I can barely go to the grocery store without toting it along. I started using an e-reader when I was spending months at a time overseas. Lugging huge numbers of paperbacks around gets heavy and expensive. I’ve found my e-reader solves this problem and allows me to stockpile for longer trips. My brother, however, rarely uses his e-reader. I’m not even sure he owns one, to be honest. I always see him with a physical book in his hand. I’ve suggested an e-reader multiple times, but he just shakes his head like I’ve said something completely ridiculous.

(I’ll even acknowledge that sometimes I miss paperbacks. The feel of turning the pages, the smell of a book, and luxuriating in the tub while reading are all things I miss. A lot.)

Actually, I’m calling this one a draw. We both have legitimate reasons for choosing our preferred reading format. However, if anyone tells him I said that, I will deny we ever had this chat.

The Country Mouse and the City Mouse
I sometimes wonder how we developed such different styles of reading and whether it says something about our personalities. For example, my brother is a slow and steady kind of guy. He takes ages to make a decision, but once he does, he sticks with it. I am a bit more of a “leap before you look-er.” I’ll try just about anything. I live to see new things and meet new people. My brother can’t fathom moving from the Midwest and likes his experiences in small, measured doses.

Aw, hell, the country mouse almost gets eaten by the city mouse’s cat and determines that his style of living is better. Maybe I’m the country mouse in this story? Nah, I can’t even keep a straight face while typing this. Score (another) one for my brother, dammit.

Well, that wraps up my use of Aesop’s fables to explain to all who have wondered (and I know you have) why my brother does not read the proper way. And I guess the conclusion to this exercise is obvious to us all: Aesop was biased against sisters. Yeah, that’s what I’m taking away from this.

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