About all I can do is confess that while I myself devoured classics in my teens and 20s – even 30s, come to think of it – I now read contemporary fiction almost exclusively. I feel ambivalent about this evolution, but between reviewing, blurbing occasionally, and keeping up with what’s out there on general principle I don’t often get around to touching base with the literary canon. When I have tried to, say, reread a Dostoevsky novel, I’ve discovered that I don’t have the patience any longer – for the long philosophical digressions, for example. I bet I’m not alone in this reduced tolerance for the stylistic traditions of the past.
Lionel Shriver, quoted here. A writer reading only her contemporaries is no better off than a white American male writer who only reads other white American male writers. We have come to think of diversity almost wholly as a matter of ethnicity, but the past really is another country, and the experience of temporal diversity is essential to a well-equipped mind.