It takes me about half a book of Austen before I start enjoying it. That first half is always such a struggle. I’m constantly looking at the page numbers and monitoring whether I’m a tenth through, a fifth through, a third through…
And then, just when I’m thinking I can’t possibly go on, something takes over. I am connected to each of the characters, I understand what drives them, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
I wasn’t particularly drawn to Emma herself – she is the classic 19th century English woman, and somewhat annoying with her matchmaking – but the characters who surround her are brilliant. It always amazes me how I can read about people from the early 1800s and can immediately think of someone I know who has the exact same characteristics. Technology has changed so much over time… but it hasn’t done anything to change human nature.
Why did it take me so long to discover this book!?
I have to admit, the first chapter was one of the most tedious chapters I’ve read during this 100 book challenge. I was ready to give it the flick. Then a word here and there piqued my interest… there was a deep mystery, albeit so slightly mentioned, and from that page on I was hooked.
This one was spooky! Similar to Wuthering Heights, this one kept me awake at night wondering if the noises outside my window were in fact coming from a vampire. It may sound crazy, but while I was reading this book, it seemed to consume me and my real-world thoughts, and everywhere I looked I saw things that reminded me of the book.
My third Austen book (but only my second ‘official count’ for the 100 book challenge) was Persuasion. I didn’t have high hopes, considering I found Pride and Prejudice such a struggle and I was getting very little sleep thanks to my two, albeit adorable, ratbags.
I’d bought Emma, Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion from MacLeans and knew I needed to tackle one of them. So of course I chose the latter, being the one with the fewer pages.
Finally an Austen girl I can relate to!
Wuthering Heights, the song, is the soundtrack of my early childhood. My mother would pull the Kate Bush record from its sleeve and put it on the player, then dance around the loungeroom in all her glory.
Wuthering Heights, the book, I knew nothing about. But guess what song was stuck in my head for the entire 52 days it took me to read it?
I had a gift voucher to spend at the local book shop and was excited to buy a few from the 100 book challenge list. The Penguin and Vintage classics were selling for $14 each so I began searching the shelves for familiar titles.
At one stage I had War and Peace in one hand and Of Mice and Men in the other. The former is a whopping 580,000 words and the latter a mere 30,000. Being part of the classics range, they were both $14. It seemed a no-brainer: War and Peace was much more value for money. Just 2.4 cents per 1000 words.
I had my 6 month old daughter in the pram, and she had started to fidget. She wanted out. I put the books down to lift her out of the pram. Baby on hip, I then decided which of the two books I would add to my collection.
I’d seen the movie a hundred times as a kid, but I don’t know if I’d ever read the book. I think I’d tried a few times (the first few pages seemed very familiar) but never made it all the way through.
Ahhh, but as I’m quickly learning with this 100 book challenge, sometimes one needs to have a bit of maturity behind them to truly appreciate what an author is trying to get across (I discovered this recently when I read To Kill a Mockingbird).
I remember having to read this book in high school as part of English class. I checked the book out from the library and struggled through the first few pages. In preparation for the exam I read the Sparknotes Study Guide and watched the movie from start to finish (the image of the rabid dog is clear in my mind).
I passed the exam without reading more than 10 pages max.
Did a bit of a premonition draw me to this book?
I began reading my 22nd book late in my pregnancy when it was starting to get real. Being my second baby, I had all the usual concerns: was spare time for me now a thing of the past? would I ever get to write or read again? how was I going to share my love between two kids? would my three-year-old son like the baby at all?
And then there was the thought that this baby could be a girl and (terror!) how would I go being a mum to a girl, when up until then, I’d always seen myself as a boy’s mum?
Granted, being a mum to girls in the 1860s would probably be just a little different to my own experience but I thought I’d give it a go. Thought I’d finally read this classic tale that so many people (everyone, apparently… please read on) seemed to know about but one that I’d never tackled before.
This book hooked me from the very first page and I couldn’t put it down. When I wasn’t reading, I’d think about it all day. And when I was reading, I’d be drawn into the story, oblivious to what was going on around me. I felt guilty that I was neglecting my family!
Luckily it was all over in just 6 days. That’s almost a record for my 100 book challenge. Beaten only by Catcher in the Rye, which had a similar effect on me and took just 5 days to finish.
If it wasn’t for one small thing, I’d have given it a perfect 10 out of 10.