Lessons Learned During A Reading Challenge

Reading.

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?

Reading Challenge.

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.

Book 1.

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.

Book 2.

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.

Book 3.

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.

Book 4.

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.

Book 5.

The Picture of Dorian Gray may have been my least favorite of the bunch, but it was still interesting.

Conclusion.

There is a reason that a classic is considered a classic and it’s because they’ve earned their place.

Lessons Learned.

As mentioned by the title, I did learn a few lessons over the course of the month.

Lesson one:

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.

Lesson two:

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.

Lesson three.

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!

My Story.

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.

Future Challenge.

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.

The Details.

  • 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 dayThe 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 – A 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!

Amy

29 thoughts on “Lessons Learned During A Reading Challenge

  1. Great lessons here. Especially the only reading the first page. Sometimes you just have to dive in and then you find the jewels.

    Have a fabulous day. ♥

    • Thank you! I have discovered that some stories take a bit to get into and then you find the treasure. 🙂
      I hope you have a fabulous day! <3

  2. I’ve read all but Random Harvest. Middlemarch is the only book I couldn’t finish, ever. I could not stand that young woman (can’t remember her name). I remember just wanting to shake her.

    • Apparently a movie was made about Random Harvest and became a classic. I hadn’t heard of the movie either.

      In Middlemarch, I did find Dorothea’s thoughts to be very dissimilar than mine in many areas, but I did love her thought that basically says we are to spread light. I was discouraged by the interactions of her marriage, but came to appreciate her evolution from naivety to strength (at least that was my viewpoint). It took me quite some time to become invested in the story since there were so many storylines that eventually converged. It is a LONG book if you can’t stand the main character. lol.

      • I didn’t get far enough to see that Dorothea grew into a person of strength. Perhaps I’ll give it another shot someday. It gives me hope that you persevered through it. Haha

  3. I’ve tried to read Moby Dick several times, and given up several times. I think my favourite book – that was hard work to begin with, but paid off in the end was Anna Karenina – buy I wondered afterwards if the big epic books actually work by re-programming you to an extent – they are a slog until you adapt to them…

    • I haven’t attempted Moby Dick, but have considered it on more than once. You aren’t the first person I’ve heard this from though and it makes me nervous to even give it a go. lol.
      I have Anna Karenina in my possibilities of classics. I’ve attempted to start A Tale of Two Cities on more than one occasion. I think it’s the language. Perhaps if I slog through, I will adapt to it and find the enjoyment so many people claim is to be found in the book! 🙂

      • Oh my gosh! I just popped over to check it out. HILARIOUS! I do plan to give A Tale of Two Cities another go. 🙂

      • It didn’t occur to me at the time, but if you read this reply with the mind of a 13 year old boy (or girl), it’s just as good as your husband’s text messages 🙂 lol

  4. I confess that the only book I’ve read in this list is Dorian Gray – and that was EONS ago. I’ve never given the classics much thought and perhaps it’s time I did. Your challenges do poke my interest! 🙂

    • I hadn’t read many classics outside of the required ones in high school and college. I still think there will be classics that I don’t enjoy or can’t make it through and wonder how in the world they became classics, but I did enjoy this set. 🙂

    • I’m willing to have help anywhere! 😉 I’ve heard that a great story. I’ll make a note of that! Thanks! <3

    • I haven’t read Agatha Christie (I know! Shame on Me!). I’ll have to keep this in mind.

      • Me too! I have only read “murder on the orient express” and that was because I wanted to see the movie that was coming out. This is my excuse to read more of her work😊

  5. Congrats on your achievement for the month! I often have great intentions of finishing the classics I have on my kobo and end up reading another non-fiction book. I would feel annoyed too reading about the inequality. It’s good to know how far we have come and that there is hope for more change. Love it that it is international women’s day. Lots to celebrate and press on towards. So inspired by your commitment to the challenges you set xxx

    • Thanks Dee! I made sure to steer clear of any extra bookshelves at the library in case I was tempted. Yes…lots to celebrate and press on towards!! xx

  6. Yay! What fun! I’ve also even trying out 30-Day Challenges to push my boundaries a little. I hear you on setting time aside – I guess if we don’t plan to do it, other things will just creep in and take over!

    • I find that 30 days are the perfect timelines for challenges. They push my boundaries, but if I find that they don’t fit with my life I can leave them at the end and if they do fit, it’s been long enough to form a habit.
      I’m very bad at letting things creep in and take over!

      • I hear you: it doesn’t take much for things to happen. I guess that’s what mindful focus does for me – in the midst of chaos, I have something to go back to!

  7. I liked very much this choices ! I’ve readen all of this books, but not ‘Random Harvest’ (in Italy this book is not very famous i suppose..) Hope you have a good day! by amazedtraveller07

    • I had not heard of Random Harvest either, but apparently the movie was made shortly after it was written and became a classic as well. I hope you have a good day as well!! 🙂

  8. I’m going to reread Dorian Gray sometime this year. It’s been awhile, and I received a beautiful new copy on my birthday. I find it have new insights every time I read it.
    I’m also going to add Random Harvest to my TBR.
    I feel badly that I didn’t prepare you for the brutality of The Color Purple. However, if you liked it, I recommend all of Alice Walker. The Temple of My Familiar and Possessing the Secret of Joy especially.

    • I can see how Dorian Gray would bring new insights on a fresh read.
      I was quite surprised by the fact that I enjoyed Random Harvest, but I thought the storyline moved along well.
      I think not being prepared for the brutality made me feel the feelings that the story was intended to create. I did not go into it desensitized and prepared. I find value in that as well, but recognize it may have been too much for others. I’ll have to add some of her other works to my list!

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