Guys, it's the end of April already. How is it possible that this year is going by both quickly and slowly? The fact that I took up half the month reading one of the most boring (and long) classics I have ever come across probably had something to do with it. *shakes fist at Daniel Deronda*.
Even with the-book-that-wouldn't-end in the mix, I finished almost everything I had set out to read this month. The only book I didn't get completely through was Twilight Sleep by Edith Wharton, and I only need a few more days to get it finished up. All in all, I did okay.
Here's what my April looked like:
100 pages of Les Misérables
My favorite read of the month was probably The Art of Starving by Sam J. Miller. This young adult contemporary about a teen boy with anorexia was extremely dark, but it did provide a pretty good exploration of the psychological impact of an eating disorder. Add to that Miller's black humor and his sympathetic, likable protagonist, Matt, and you've got a moving and thought provoking reading experience. It felt gritty and real, and I appreciated that.
My least favorite read of the month was (do I even have to say it?) Daniel Deronda. My goodness this is one classic that has not aged well! It was packed full of stereotypes about the Jewish people that were painful to read in 2021, and the plot wasn't exactly action-packed either. Who would have thought that a 700 page story about a man's slow journey towards embracing his heritage would have been boring? I kid. But seriously, it was one of the most trying reading experiences I've had this year.
Next month, I'm going to take a break from gigantic classics and try to knock some of the shorter books off my lists. Here's the plan:
Twilight Sleep by Edith Wharton
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
At least two books chosen from my owned-not-read list based on my mood
At least 100 pages of Les Misérables
To be honest, I'm not super-looking forward to these picks. Over the past four years that I've been working on Classics Club, I've basically already read most of the books that I was really excited about. What I'm left with now are the stragglers - the books that I put on the list out of a feeling of "I really should read this" instead of books I genuinely wanted to read. It's true that part of this challenge for me is broadening my literary horizons, but I think there's a fine line between trying something new and forcing yourself to read something you have no interest in.
I've been working on Classics Club for four years. That's a long time. The way I approach reading has evolved since 2017. I'm starting to see less value in trying to read all the big names and more value on spending my precious reading time on novels I think I will love. I've gotten so far with this challenge that there is no way I'm giving up on it now, but if I were to do a second round, I would select books differently for sure.
In any case, I do not think I'm going to enjoy On the Road or Absalom, Absalom! Neither are my preferred genre of classic. It would be absolutely delightful if I end up being wrong though. It would be funny if I disproved my own point about book selection the very month after writing this post. I guess I'll find out the truth soon enough.
What about everyone else out there? What are you planning on reading this month? Do you ever make yourself pick up books that you aren't personally interested in out of a sense of duty? I'd love to know!