That by desiring what is perfectly good, even when we don’t quite know what it is and cannot do what we would, we are part of the divine power against evil – widening the skirts of light and making the struggle with darkness narrower. -Dorothea in Middlemarch by George Eliot
I love to read. I have loved reading for as long as I can remember. Anybody else with me on that?! There are distinct memories of reading The Secret Garden and A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, in our playhouse. I remember being fascinated by the imagination in Five Children and It by E. Nesbit. There also was the family who would come down to live in the log cabin that they had built by hand. The mother had books lining the shelves and she would let me borrow them. I remember my love as I read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, and how it moved to the position of my favorite book. The feeling of delight when Mrs. Parker gifted me that copy from her shelf. I was that girl who asked for the hall pass to the library during lunches. In seventh grade it was so I could read series, namely The Babysitter’s Club by Ann M. Martin and Sweet Valley High by Francine Pascal.
I don’t recall all the books I chose to read throughout the rest of school, but I do remember all the classics that we read in English class.
A few of which included:
- Lord of the Flies by William Golding
- Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
- The Crucible by Arthur Miller
- The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
- Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
There were many other shorter stories, like Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome. Of course, there were all the Shakespeare Classics as well. I also have read many classics on my own and alongside my children as they’ve read classics for their classes. They’ve even read The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, from my well-worn copy, which was a gift from my 12th grade English teacher. Another classical reading accomplishment has been that I finally finished reading Walden by Thoreau during my time at the beginning of this blog.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë moved to my favorite book over 20 years ago. I don’t often read a book twice, but I made an exception for Jane Eyre. I couldn’t believe my hubby had never read it so we took turns reading a chapter before bed each night. That was when our evenings were quiet. I was pregnant with our oldest (who will turn 18 next month!). We would then be knee deep in three babies and toddlers…and then moves…and more moves. Now we are at that point where the nights are still not quiet because teenagers like to stay up late.
I’m continuing with my year of #thisis40 endeavor to learn and grow through 30-day challenges. You may be wondering what all this has to do with my 30-day challenge for February. Well, I just finished my most recent read, Middlemarch, by George Eliot, yesterday. If you’ve been following for some time, you may recall when I announced that it had come into the library after I had placed it on hold. That post was at the end of October! Granted, in the copy I was reading, Middlemarch was 838 pages long. My hubby thought I must be torturing myself since it took me three months to read it. The reality, however, was that I loved it (some people’s stories took me longer to be interested in than others). In fact, the quote I opened with made the entire book worth it to me. That and the last sentence of the entire story (which I’ve decided not to share since that’s like opening to the last page of a book to see how it ends.) justified all time invested into reading this classic. The real problem and why it took three months was that I wasn’t making reading a priority.
Which brings me to my February Challenge:
Read Three Classics in 30 days.
Since there’s obviously not 30 days in February, I will be beginning this challenge a few days early.
I looked up how many pages the average reader tends to read. This Forbes article says that the average adult reads 300 wpm. This website breaks down an estimation of how long some classics will take to read. I will not be reading any classics that I have read in the past. Part of my choices will factor time available and also what books are available to me. My plan is to have 20 minutes devoted time for reading over the course of 30 days. This is 600 minutes (or 10 hours) over the course of the month.
I also plan to make sure to find a short bio on the authors. Since many of these classics were written before my time, I have relatively little knowledge about the authors behind them unless I read their works in school. The reason behind wanting to read their bio is because I was embarrassed to discover that I had no idea that George Eliot was a pseudonym for Mary Anne Evans.
What I’m Reading.
I will be starting with reading A Passage to India by E.M. Forster. The main reason for this is because it is in our personal library. One of the teens had planned to read it but didn’t get to it. I don’t think that I’ve ever finished Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (another book that I own and one of my favorite movies!). I plan to finish it, but it will not count toward my three classics. It is likely that the other two classics will come from this list of short classics that I found on Pinterest. Again, most of the choices depend on what is available to me.
Likely I will try to read:
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald AND/OR
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley AND/OR
- The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway AND/OR
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley AND/OR
- The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
although many others look equally as intriguing.
Since it is hard to estimate reading times vs. the number of pages, I will be sure to get in my three Classic novels. Assuming that they take less than the 10 hours to get through (which I am anticipating to be the case) I will continue reading classics throughout the month.
Some that I am considering are:
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
- The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Have you read any of these? Which would you consider your favorite of the bunch?
What is your all-time favorite classic novel?
I think mine still stands as Jane Eyre.
If you’re in the mood to read some classics…or even if you’re just in the mood to read, I hope you’ll join in with this reading challenge.
Feel free to share what you are currently reading. I’m always looking for a good book to put on my list.
Let your light shine!