Good question. I’m doing this totally for fun. I love hardboiled detective stories and film noir – it’s something I’ve been into for more than twenty years. But if I wasn’t playing along with this course, my only reading would be work-related, which is much less fun.
So one thing I get out of it is reading authors like Hammett, Cain and Highsmith, instead of just watching the movies made from their work. Fante and Paretsky I didn’t even know about before. The other thing is listening in on the class discussions. Hearing everybody’s questions and insights and ideas gives the books more depth. And it makes me think more about what I’m reading in turn.
I don’t think I ever took a literature class where we got to read something I wanted to read. Usually the readings ranged from a chore to torture, mainly because they were things I had to read, and not things I chose. Here, I get to read stuff I like, and I get to develop a deeper appreciation for the works. Of course, I don’t have to deal with tests and grades like the rest of the class, so there’s no pressure for me other than what I put on myself. So that’s what I’m here for – the entertainment. It’s fun.