Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ~Elizabeth Stone

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Thoughtful vs. Pleasure

When I finished my Honours English Literature degree (too many years ago to discuss) I was so done with analyzing, and thinking, and discussing, and everything except reading for pleasure. I don't think I read a single book that wasn't on my class reading lists. I was taking 5 English courses every year, which basically equated to 5 novels a week or the like. Remember, Serena? I just wanted to go to Chapters and buy any book that looked good and read, preferably on the beach with a frozen drink! I wanted juicy romances, sultry details, exciting characters, PAPERBOOKS, new releases and no symbolism!

Now that it's been a few years and I have read A LOT of books for pleasure I find myself returning to the classics and books that require a little more thought. 

That being said please don't think I have been sitting around reading Harliquin's since I graduated! I have not. I just meant that I read the books that appealed to me based on their storyline, or their genre, or that they were a best seller and everyone was talking about them.

Over the last few years I've discovered a love of historical fiction which I am positive stems from my English degree has it had many pre-requisites involving Victorian narratives, Shakespeare (yes, all...ALL the plays!! That's a long post for another day) and other historical narratives as well. I even wrote my first thesis on "archetypes of women in American historical narratives" (whew!). If it takes place in the past, and even better has real historical figures in it (think Phillippa Gregory or Diana Gabaldon), I'll read it and most likely love it. In this vein I decided to sign up for the Books to Read Before I Die Challenge hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea. These are the books I have chosen for this challenge:

1. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
2. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
3. Fall on Your Knees by Ann Marie MacDonald
4. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
5. Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
6. The World According to Garp by John Irving
7. The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
8. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
9. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
10. The Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini
11. Superfreakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
12. Why Your World is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller by Jeff Rubin

Now some of these books are best sellers but many of them are from the Chapters 100 Best Books to read list that I pledged last year to read "before I die". (I made the promise to myself before I learned of the challenge but it fits together pretty nicely I think!). I haven't started any of the books yet, and I'll tell you why...

I started re-reading Emma by Jane Austen on the first of January. I am still reading it even though I have finished other books since! I love Emma and have since the first time I read it in 2nd year university. I loved "Clueless" as well, and when I found out Clueless was a "re-make" of Emma I loved it even more. I am enjoying re-reading the story and getting re-aquainted with my old friend Mr. Knightly (love him!), Harriet (annoying) and Emma (so dear) but I find that I am reading very slowly through it which I am not used to at all. Everyone that knows me is amazed by how fast I can read. However, after seeing so of y'all's lists on here I am starting to think I am not as fast as I once believed ...either that or some of you never sleep!!

So my question and the point of all this is...were you wondering when I was going to get there? Sorry... Should I be worried about finishing my challenge books and not reaching my total goals of books I want to read this year? Or just keep plugging on and read what I set out to read and number of books completed be damned?

Do you read a lot of classics or thought-provoking books? Do they take you longer to get through? Do you enjoy them as much as reading more books with less thought provoking stories? 

3 Thinks and Thoughts of Others:

SB said...

ah Beth, I do remember. But remember this: I was in a double major, meaning I didn't have to read as many novels:-)! That said, were I to do Uni again, I think I would have done straight English because I have lost a lot of what I had learned.

On that note: with reading for pleasure versus thoughtful, let me be the true democrat and say...both. of course! As in both together in one novel *a true piece of literature should be both thought provoking and good; but, also, both types novels: light and fluffy and deep with *dare I say it? symbolism!!! ha ha! I am reading right now, Bright Lights, Big Ass by Jen Lancaster, as well as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, and I will be after those 'light and fluffy' novels be reading The Cellist of Sarajevo...I say read until the year is out and then see if you made the quantity! but, in the meantime, enjoy the quality -- the books that is!! yippee! *p.s. I've had two glasses of wine in the last two hours...let that fact alone help you to determine whether to take me seriously or not!

Beth said...

Serena, Love it!

Wild Somerset Child said...

Hello. I have just fallen upon your blog - not sure how (via Nan at Hill Farm I think, and Beatrix Potter I think). But it is so good to hear of people who set themselves a reading challenge - reminds me of the notebooks I kept way back listing every book I read. Degrees aside (and how many children and young people were discouraged from Shakespeare and so many other authors because they had to analyse and discuss. The same with poetry??) I think one should read because one must, forget the time scale, forget everything but the pleasure of words. And if the book sits on the shelf for a while and others clamour for attention and intervene, so be it. Good to make your aquaintance.

Last Words...

Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one's thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world.

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe