Back in the beginning of the year I set forth to read 12 books from the popular BBC Big Read list. Now the first quarter is over and three of those books are complete. Here’s here are my reactions to each book –
A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens: I wanted to like this book, I like the story and have enjoyed the different movies from Patrick Stewarts down to Albert Finneys versions. It’s a classic and I don’t regret reading it. What better way to invite a feeling of Christmas than to read about Scrooge and his magical transformation from miserable miser to generous soul. What I do regret is that I couldn’t find quiet alone time to give it the attention and focus it deserves. Dickens is not the easiest reading even for experienced readers. I wanted to be sucked in and be able to live through the story in the same way I enjoy modern fiction but it wasn’t to be. The words refused to come alive for me and I didn’t have the patience to force them to do so either. This book is best enjoyed in front of a fireplace with a glass of wine and time for quiet contemplation – not from one’s phone while holding a wiggly toddler who is watching one of their obnoxious TV shows.
Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte – Somehow I escaped reading this in High School and perhaps it was for the best that I did. Along the same lines of Christmas Carol, this book requires lots of attention to keep track of what’s going on. I had more quiet time to work on reading this time, which helped, but in the end I can honestly say I didn’t enjoy the experience. The characters are not likable which makes it hard to empathize with their multitude of plights.
Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad – Once again, this was a harder read, although it seemed easier than Wuthering Heights. Maybe I’m finally getting the hang of 18th century literature, who knows? Then again, Heart of Darkness takes place deep within the Congo, a setting I find fascinating. It also deals with more urgent matters than Wuthering Heights, such as life and death situations and slavery, which I prefer over stories where the main plot question revolves around the question, “Does he really love me?”
So far I’ve been enjoying the challenge of reading books that fall far outside my preferred reading bubble. The language of these books is distinct and delicious and meant to be savored, like foreign chocolate. I can’t wait to get a taste of the next one!
Here are the remaining books left on my personal list for this year –
- A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving
- Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
- Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
- The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
- A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
- Dune – Frank Herbert
- The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
- To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
- The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
What are you reading this year? Share in the comments!