“Look at everything you read as you might look at a lollypop, hold it on a stick, see what flavour it has. Maybe it’s not worth reading. Just think, we are full of hygiene laws, we have individual cups for drinking and so forth. And we’re protected if anything gets on our cranberries, we’ll not eat them. But garbage for the mind? Anything. We’ll pour in all the filth we please.” ~Fulton J. Sheen, How to improve your mind
I haven’t been much of a classics-reader, due to laziness mostly. I get caught up in the fancy-dancy wording, can’t be bothered to go and look up what the words mean because by the time I get to the dictionary, I have to go back and read the whole paragraph, yadda yadda yadda…generally I just chuck the book. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been a reader, just books with words that I already know.
But I’ve been plagued lately. Plagued with the suspicion that I’m missing out – that the world is so much bigger and fuller than what I think it is. I've sensed a growing desire to expand my knowledge of good literature that I've not experienced before. And what better way to discover that big-ness and fullness of the world than through the classic medium of the ages: books. My desire is to branch out into books that aren't easily read in a few days (I've read entire novels in hours actually...), books that stretch me and take time to taste, chew and digest - good literature (as Bishop Sheen puts it).
“When we get hold of something good, we masticate it in order to take out of it all the flavour that is there. This chewing means that we are not always just looking at the book, we first off have to put forth considerable effort. There is no such thing as an easy path to knowledge. Do not believe these advertisements, learn to speak French in 40 easy hours. Calculus learned in an afternoon. Learn how to play the piano in ten easy lessons. We’re looking for everything easy, we do not read books. We’ve got to get hold of a digest. Everything has to be broken up for us; we’re not putting forth any effort.” ~Fulton J. Sheen, How to improve your mind
So. No more Coles notes or readers digest versions of the classics for this gal. Say hello to Cultured Sarah who will instantly recognize the obscure references to Oscar Wilde and George Eliot…in about 10 years! I figure I’ll set a goal for myself, something attainable like 6 classics a year. That’s 1 every two months. If I read more than that, great. If I read just 6, well then I’m 6 classics up from where I was before. Who’s with me? Who will aid me in my journey, read with me and spur me on? Reflect on the depth of passages…perhaps start a little online book club of sorts?
Ok then. I know you’re scared and that’s ok. However, I will report back to tempt you with the wondrous tales of each book.
My first book will be Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities only because my mom raves and rants about how good this book is. Wish me luck. Charles…be easy on me…please.
(Oh and since I haven’t thought ahead to my next book…any suggestions, comments, requests? What shall I read after I slog…er...sail though Dickens?)