Friday, January 9, 2009

A Pile of Classics

Does this happen to anyone else? Over the past several years, I have read many classics with a Yahoo reading group. After voting on the selections, a reading schedule is set and the book is discussed in segments throughout the month. Occasionally, a real chunkster is chosen and the schedule becomes a bit more demanding. Unfortunately, I got into a pattern of falling behind schedule and then setting the book aside (even though I was enjoying it) in order to start the next book on time. As a result, I have accumulated six classics with bookmarks stuck somewhere in the middle and they are now languishing on my shelves:

The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope (pg. 327, started 10/08)
Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (pg.157, started 9/05)
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackery (pg.353, started 7/05)
Middlemarch by George Eliot (pg.490, started 2/07)
The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann (pg. 188, started 1/06)
Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham (pg.265, started 8/06)

I intend to finish all of these books. My dilemma is to figure out the best way to accomplish this. Since I just started The Way We Live Now in October, I'll finish that first. Should I continue reading a chapter or two every few days, or perhaps designate one day a week as my "classics day"? I'll try both and see which works better. The other books pose a different problem. What if I can't remember what Becky Sharp or Dorothea Brooke have been up to? I'm afraid I may need to start skimming those from the beginning. Well, at least I can be assured this pile will not grow - I'm no longer active in the group.


  1. remind me of me! I have a few books that I have had to leave in the middle of as well. I come back later and think, "Now, what was happening? I dont remember this. Did they explain this or is this the first time I am hearing of it?" It probably depends on how well you remember any of it and how long ago you last read it. It might be helpful to skim the end of the previous chapters or something similar just to freshen up. I can't imagine re-reading all of them again! Good luck to you! :)

  2. Rebecca,
    It's good to know I'm not alone in this! I'll try to pick up where I left off and hope for the best...

  3. I've really enjoyed PBS' broadcast of Tess of D'Urbervilles which just ended last Sunday (I wish I'd read this post earlier or I would have told you about it sooner!). Sometimes classics are a trial to get through, especially when we're busy, but I find them so much more rewarding than the trite novels we find too much in abundance today. I always like to save my huge Russian reads for Winter. Maybe this year I'll get through The Brothers Karamazov. I hope so!

  4. Bellezza,
    I missed the first episode of Tess and decided not to record the second in hope that Netflix would have it soon. Winter is the absolute BEST time for big Russian novels! Crime and Punishment will be next for me...but I need to do something about that big pile first ;-) I really love classics, but just got into trouble with deadlines here. Good luck with The Brothers Karamazov!

  5. I think that happens to all of us at times. I would have to say start Tess after you finish the current one. I loved this one when I read it.

  6. Lisa,
    Tess probably will be next. My daughter just read it for a freshman English class last semester and she loved it, too.


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