Summer is here, the poll is closed and my summer doorstop tome is decided: I’ll be reading Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray. Becky Sharp triumphed over Don Quixote by a whisker but that’s what you’d expect from her, isn’t it?
Thanks everyone for voting — and special thanks for choosing a book that I imagine is available for cheap or free in ebook edition, thus making its tome-ishness easier to handle. I’ll be reporting back once I’ve read it — and I’ll resist watching the Mira Nair film adaptation, starring Reese Witherspoon, till I’m done.
Happy summer reading, everyone! And speaking of summer reading, we have programs at the Key West Library this year, for children and, for the second year running, for adults. So stop by, pick up a reading log and get your read on.
Every once in awhile I say to myself, hey you lazy self, you should read more classics. * Then a new work of historical fiction or a new season of Justified catches my attention and I conveniently forget.
So now I’m going to take a serious step, the book-reading equivalent of one of those public weight-loss efforts. (No way am I doing that.) I’m going to publicly declare my intention to read a long-neglected classic work of literature. And report back on my progress.
To make this even more fun, I decided my summer classic read should be significant. No slim little Dostoyevsky for me. My classic is going to be a Capital C Classic, at least 500 pages, capable of stopping a door in its original hardcover form.
And you’re going to choose it for me. I came up with four titles, all books that I should have read by now. But haven’t. Here’s my understanding of what each book is about.
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville: Man chases after whale. 1851, American
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes: Man tilts at windmills. 1605, Spanish
Pamela by Samuel Richardson: Young woman resists employer’s son’s advances. 1740, English
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray: Woman claws her way up social ranks. 1847, English
* Just for the record I came up with this idea — even drafted this blog post — BEFORE the much-circulated Slow Books Manifesto that appeared on the Atlantic website. Modeled on Michael Pollan’s rules for eating, it proclaims that we should “Read books. As often as we can. Mostly classics.” At least it was much-discussed in library circles. I get what she’s saying and I am feeling the need, obviously, for a little more classic fiber in my reading diet. But on the whole I agree with the reply of Seattle Public Library’s David Wright, which I’m reposting beyond the jump here. It’s a long reply but it’s worth reading. Wright, by the way, is one of the authors of SPL’s Shelf Talk blog, which is always a worthwhile read.