Classics read in 2011: Five.
Classics read in 2010: Zero.
Zero. Five. Fifteen.
Not bad. Not bad at all considering that the first thirty pages of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities was a pain to read and that I still can’t forget my exasperation when Vladimir Nabokov listed the countless tourist attractions that Lolita and her rapist visited (at that time, I didn’t know I was subvocalizing, a reading habit I’m trying to eliminate). There was also that manifesto in George Orwell’s 1984 which I’m not likely to reread very soon.
Meaning: I’m glad it’s over. Let the curtain drop.
And I’m happy. I’m very happy to have read those great books this year, including my favorites such as Jane Austen’s Persuasion and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. And what about those books that made me think? I’m not the same after reading Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary.
You set out reading these books for the sheer challenge of it all, not minding that some themes just might change the way you think. About yourself. About the world. And when it happens, when the seed of wisdom from those long dead authors is planted in your very core, you just lie there on your bed and let it grow while you sleep.
This is an occasion to drink champagne, but since I don’t drink, I raise my glass of lemon water to the great writers of our time. Thank you for the conversations. I always say that while I’m not a deeply religious person, I feel closer to heaven when I read the classics.
And I raise my pretend-champagne glass to you, dear reader. Thank you for keeping me company in this reading challenge.
In 2013, I’ll be adding more modern fiction in my list, including David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas and John Green’s The Fault in our Stars. And because I’m a self-confessed introvert, I think I’ll want to read Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.
But I’ll never stop reading Austen or Tolstoy or Hugo or Hardy. There’s Moby Dick to conquer in the near future as well as The Rosales Saga by my own fellowman. And if I finish Anna Karenina before January, I’m sure I should like to read more Russians. If I get depressed or get stuck, you will know because I’ll be reading select children’s lit or YA in between. Or posting another zombie comic art to distract myself.
But reading classics, I will be.