Tuesday, March 3, 2009

How many years does it take to read a book?

When I was in middle school (1988-1991) my cousin in New York gave me a beautifully illustrated copy of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. She knew I loved to read, and since she liked the story, she thought I would too. It was a classic, right?

I was excited to get started on my new book, and jumped in right away. I didn't get much past the second chapter, however, before my enthusiasm came to a screeching halt. I didn't like it and could not get into the story. So, Jane Eyre got shelved, unfinished, in my closet.

Now, twenty years later, I have dug the beautiful book out of my attic and tackled it again. I know why I couldn't get into it before. Bronte is hard to read. Well, then it would have been hard. Now that I have Beowulf in the Middle English text under my belt and numerous Shakespeare plays down, it's a piece of cake. But for a middle schooler who was more interested in Nancy Drew novels (action & adventure), a story about an unloved orphan couldn't have been that appealing.

But Bronte is still hard in that the book is a slow starter. You keep reading it because you don't want to quit again for the first 175 pages, then it starts to get intriguing. Notice I used the word intriguing and not "exciting" or "page-turning." This is no Michael Crichton, edge-of-your-seat, can't-turn-off-the-light-and-go-to-bed, I'll-eat-when-I'm-done-with-this-chapter novel. . . . But I'm not quiting! I may only be on page 324 of 552, after two months of reading, but I'm not quiting! I will get to the end. And when I do, I'll let you know what I think.

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