I have always loved reading. I can’t remember a time when my nose wasn’t buried in a book.
Just as in life, my reading seasons ebb and flow. Sometimes I am voraciously reading book after book and other times I watch the ones that I thought I’d read, sit and gather dust upon the shelf.
I realized that there were quite a few classics that I had not read. I wondered if I would think that they had earned their place in the “classics” category.
Opinions amongst people are always plentiful and don’t always align.
How would mine stack up?
Most of you already know that for each month since I turned 40 (back in September), I have done a 30-day challenge to push my personal growth and comfort zones. After finally finishing Middlemarch, by George Eliot, I decided that for the month of February, I would do a reading challenge.
The challenge was to read three classic novels. I shared some possibilities of what I thought I might read, but much of it depended on what I could find at the library.
What I Read.
I actually ended up reading 5 classics novels!
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- Random Harvest by James Hilton
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- The Color Purple by Alice Walker
- The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
About My Choices.
Pride and Prejudice was high on my list and wasn’t too long as to take up the entire month of reading. Part of my selection had to be based on length so that I could achieve my goal.
Random Harvest was the only novel that I hadn’t originally considered. If you followed the blog of the month of February, then you already know that our library has a “Blind Date with a Book”. You are given a few clues as to the premise of the book, but it is wrapped in brown paper. I love surprises but was already committed to my reading challenge. However, one said “timeless classic” and ended up being Random Harvest. Honestly, I didn’t have high hopes for it, but it turned out that I couldn’t put it down.
The Great Gatsby is a super quick read. Mr. D had read it for English class and said it was good. I couldn’t remember the movie very well, which was good.
The Color Purple had been highly recommended. It’s on the list of choices for current year’s high school reading list. I had a vague notion about what the book was about. Nowhere near what its harsh reality is. I thought I’d have to put the book down after page one. This was because I felt absolutely horrified for the character and didn’t know if I’d be able to bear reading more. I continued…and finished it in two days.
The Picture of Dorian Gray may have been my least favorite of the bunch, but it was still interesting.
There is a reason that a classic is considered a classic and it’s because they’ve earned their place.
As mentioned by the title, I did learn a few lessons over the course of the month.
If it’s important to you, then you’ll make time for it.
To be able to complete the challenge, I had to be deliberate and set aside time for reading. Often I feel like reading is a luxury and I put it aside to deal with matters like cleaning the house (I’m pretty sure this is the Virgo in me). Since household chores are never actually complete, it’s important to take the time to do things that you hold as important for yourself or that make you happy. For me, a few of these are Pilates, meditation, and reading.
Don’t judge a book by its cover…or its first page.
If I hadn’t kept reading A Color Purple past its first page, I would never have witnessed the main character grow into her strength. I will tell you that this book has been challenged and banned in places and you may be a person who needs to know what the book is about prior to reading as its subjects could be triggering for some people.
Celebrate at how far we’ve come as a society.
I know that we have a LONG way to go, but… OH MY GOODNESS… the way that the men speak about women in some of these books makes me so thankful that I don’t live in that era!
I can appreciate the fact that the main character in Pride and Prejudice is a strong-willed woman. In fact, I find that many of the classics that I tend to enjoy are where the woman doesn’t feel like she has to conform to society’s standards of her being a person with no mind of her own. However, there is a tendency in many of the classics for the males to think lesser of females. The Picture of Dorian Gray’s Henry has an atrocious outlook on females. Even in Middlemarch, the uncle thought women shouldn’t be learned and that it was too much for their brains.
I’m not even going into the treatment of women in A Color Purple!
I guess that I am a contradiction of sorts. I have spent my entire life of motherhood not earning a physical income. However, I am far from intellectually inept. My husband and I often have conversations on a great many topics. He does not assume that he is superior to me. We are equal. We just choose to have different responsibilities in relation to our household. I predominately manage our household. He goes off to a job. Everyone knows that housework is never done, so there are plenty of times when he is helping with portions of that as well.
I knew that I would address this topic of equality because I found it so annoying. I asked the hubby what he thought it would be like living back when woman were just viewed as property and with no intelligence.
One of his responses was that he thought it would be boring.
I was secretly delighted in his answer because I am FAR from a meek woman.
So yes! I celebrate how far we’ve come, even if there is still so much farther to go.
I enjoyed challenging myself to read so much that I decided to continue with another reading challenge. So I will jump into Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2018 Reading Challenge. I was going to do the challenge a few years ago but fell off of the commitment wagon pretty early on. It wasn’t that I didn’t continue to read, I just didn’t pick from the topics on that challenge.
I will be filling in some of the spaces with books I read in February and then will continue to fill in the blanks as I find a book in that niche.
A classic you’ve been meaning to read–Pride and Prejudice
- A book recommended by someone with great taste (I know you all have great taste. Leave me some recommendations).
A book in translation–The Little Prince (I’m starting this as soon as I finish my current read)
- A book nominated for an award in 2018
- A book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection
A book you can read in a day–The Great Gatsby
- A book that’s more than 500 pages (too bad I started Middlemarch last year!)
- A book by a favorite author
- A book recommended by a librarian or indie bookseller
A banned book– The Color Purple A memoir, biography, or work of creative nonfiction– The Glass Castle (my current read)
- A book by an author of a different race, ethnicity, or religion other than your own. (some I’ve read technically qualify, but I’m choosing an author with a broader difference).
I’ll continue to share my reading choices throughout the year.
Let your light shine!