Friday, August 27, 2010

Beginning Bleak House

Amanda at The Zen Leaf is hosting a Bleak House Readalong that officially began Wednesday. The event has been enthusiastically received with close to 30 bloggers signing on for the venture. Our plan is to read the book over two months and post an update each Wednesday. But, guess what? I'm already behind.

Bleak House is a big, sprawling Victorian novel with multiple plot lines and characters too numerous to count. Rather then give a summary and quotes (I quoted the opening sentences for Teaser Tuesday), I'll share my approach instead. Check out Amanda's post for a summary.

My history with Dickens is inconsistent. A Christmas Carol was enjoyable enough, but I struggled to get through A Tale of Two Cities. Last year, I listened to Great Expectations and was enthralled. I simply couldn't get enough, and began to wonder if perhaps the audio format had something to do with my enjoyment. We all know Dickens can be wordy, and sometimes his descriptions do go on and on, but it didn't seem to bother me at all while listening.

This time, I'll be both reading and listening. The unabridged audio version read by Robert Whitfield has been downloaded from audible, and I'm reading from the Penguin Classic edition at home. So far, this is working out very well.

The initial section introduced several characters and storylines. I easily became involved with each one, and can't wait to see them woven together. At this point, I'm not sure whether I'll post weekly, but the journey will certainly be enjoyable!

26 comments:

  1. I think audio might be a better format for me, too, but I've already got one going and they take me forever, so I couldn't do it for a readalong. Shame.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I would love to join this if I can find the time. I saw the mini-series from the BBC a few years ago and it was just brilliant! I went out and bought the book soon after, promising myself I would read it one day after I've had time to forget the plot. I've forgotten a lot now so I'd love to read it soon.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I read (and loved) Bleak House a number of years ago and "reread" it on audio before my finals; audio definitely works for it although I was a big fan of both formats.

    A trick I have used in past for big books (which Astrid above has inadvertently reminded me of) is to watch an adaptation but after each episode/installment read up to where it cuts off before reading the next one. Sometimes reading along to someone else's visual interpretation of it helps to manage and understand it.

    I simply love Dickens though and craving some more of his work. I may reread Great Expectations or plunge right in to The Pickwick Papers.

    Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Maybe it was good I didn't see this readalong until now, because I would have been tempted! What I really need to do is keep my head down and focus!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Good luck in your read a long. I wouldn't have minded reading this one - I haven't yet. I'll wait and see your opinion on it before trying. I really enjoyed Great Expectations too!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I really enjoy reading Dickens but have always read them when on holiday so that I have time to wallow and really get into the story. I'll be interested to read your posts...

    ReplyDelete
  7. Amanda - My audio version is over 33 hours long, and it's one of the shorter ones. Looking forward to the read/listen combination!

    Mrs. B. - It would be great to have you join in! The 'rules' are pretty relaxed. I hope to watch the BBC production when I've finished.

    Paperback Reader - Hmm, maybe I should think about watching the episodes as I read along. So far, I think I'm going to love it! BTW, still having trouble commenting on your blog. Don't think there's much either of us can do, but it is still frustrating.

    Sandy - Oh, I know that feeling! Focus, focus, focus...

    Darlene - My copy of the book has nearly 1,000 pages, so it's definitely a huge undertaking. Don't think I would have attempted it if I hadn't loved Great Expectations.

    Joan Hunter Dunn - This would be a perfect holiday read, now that you mention it. I think it will be a story I can just lose myself in.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I think audio is a perfect way to go with Dickens. In the 19th reading aloud was a common form of entertainment. In fact, Dickens made most of his money, not from sales of books, but from reading scenes from them aloud to paying audiences.

    Hope you enjoy Bleak House. It's one of his very best.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Good luck with this. I hope we both enjoy it! I'll look forward to reading your updates.

    By the way, thanks for letting me know about the comment on my blog. I managed to retrieve it from the spam!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I have the Naxos audiobook version and it's 35 hours! It's 28 discs and the library has it split into two volumes since you theoretically have three weeks to listen to it. I'm not in the car that much so I also listen on my ipod. It's going to take forever since I'm reading other books as well. Oh well, it was written as a serial, so I guess that's okay.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Summarizing this novel is such a daunting task! I had a difficult time trying to come up with a way to explain what was happening when I was writing my reaction.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Good luck! This is so tempting to me but I know I cannot do it justice right now. And happy to hear you enjoyed Great Expectations as it is my favorite Dickens.

    ReplyDelete
  13. C.B. James - So true! No wonder Dickens is so wonderful read aloud. Bleak House is off to a good start.

    Helen - Not sure what I've done to infuriate WordPress, but I'm spending most of my time in spam folders lately. I think Bleak HOuse is going to be fun!

    Karenlibrarian - I have to read other books, too, so we'll see how this goes. What usually happens is one book 'wins' and I just have to finish it.

    Gricel - Summarizing is always difficult for me, but Bleak House seems even harder! It can help me sort out my reaction/feelings though.

    Frances - I'm enjoying Bleak House, but still hope to join in with your readalongs later this fall.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I like your approach doing reading and listening. While Im not in a position to pick up any more challenges or readathons, I do like the sound of this dual approach. I've not tried it before, so I'd love to hear your thoughts about it sometime. Good luck with the read.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thanks, Tamara! I tried the combination read/listen earlier this year with Let the Great World Spin and that will probably end up being one of my favorites this year. This method really immerses me in a novel.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I read this book two years ago for a summer class. I liked it, but I think if I have the opportunity to re-read without academic pressures, I would enjoy it so much more. Unfortunately, I do not have the time to participate in this read along.

    I LOVE you process and this it is something that I would like to try as well. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I am going to be starting this one late, as I am trying to make it through Brothers K first.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I wanted to join this readalong but didn't think I'd have time. Maybe I'll just start a week late and play catch up because I'd really like to read it and was hoping to anyway this year.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Read this a few years ago and loved it. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I'm so relieved not to be the only one behind on the schedule. I'm hoping to regain that ground this week, but it doesn't look good.

    I'm very impressed that you're both reading and listening to the book. I'll be interested to read your reports on how that affects your thoughts about it.

    I look forward to this readalong. It's so nice to have a community encouraging me to soldier on.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Wish I'd seen the post on this when it kicked off - been meaning to read Bleak House forever!

    Best of luck with the readalong - hopefully, once all you guys finish, it'll give me enough motivation to finally stop procrastinating and read the classic.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Have a wonderful time immersing yourself in the world of Jarndyce v Jarndyce and wonderful characters with fantastic names like 'Lady Dedlock' (LOVE that name!).

    I must try audio books while I'm doing some knitting one of these days.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Not to change the subject but if you liked Great Expectations, I recommend Mister Pip! Good luck with Bleak House.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I like the idea of reading and listening to a book; on one of the podcasts I listen to, the hosts talked about this and it intrigues me!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Good Luck with Bleak House! It, and just about every other Dickens novel, has defeated me. I did love the BBC series though.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I've been falling behind on this one because I am reading the proof of the new translation of Doctor Zhivago. It's quite a challenge splashing between these two works.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking the time to comment. These conversations are my favorite part of blogging. Please check back, I almost always respond to comments!

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails