Anyway, before I tell you about my summer reading, I want to catch you all up on what I read for classes last semester. And, since I'm
North and South - Elizabeth Gaskell
I really had good intentions with this one. It was assigned for a British novels class I was taking, and I honestly enjoyed most of the books we read. Besides, I'd heard that it was about the working class and had a strong female protagonist. It sounds like exactly the kind of book I'd love, right? Yeah, well, about that. First of all, the structure is pretty awful. Admittedly, this is partially because it was originally serialized. Gaskell had to meet certain guidelines, so I don't blame her entirely, but it's still a pretty awkwardly-paced book. Secondly, the characters just aren't as good as Austen's or even Bronte's. Thirdly, the romance is completely unbelievable and feels contrived. Lastly, at this point in the semester I was really tired of books that focus on compromise. The whole book is a compromise between North and South, labor and the masters, poverty and wealth, etc. Just for once I'd like to read a British novel that doesn't end with "I think we all learned a valuable lesson about first impressions and compromise," especially when it comes to working conditions for the working poor, and especially when that compromise means that no-one really has to change in any meaningful way. I love that Gaskell tackled issues like industrialization and working conditions. I just wish she had actually committed to it instead of only going halfway.
Reasons for Leaving: bad pacing, mediocre writing, flat characters, annoying plot.
Likelihood of Resuming Someday: Maybe when I haven't just finished four
Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
This book was also for that British novels class. (I promise I'm usually a better student than this.) I'd always assumed that the people whom I'd heard complaining about Dickens were just not classics lovers. Surely I would be different. After all, my favorite books include The Odyssey and Persuasion. Well, I managed to get about five chapters into this one before wanting to stab my eyes out with a rusty metal file. After that, I refused to read any further, and relied on Sparknotes for everything except the last few pages. Seriously, how on earth is Dickens so popular? Like, what kind of bookish crack is the literary world on that makes people want to read this? I don't know, but I will try everything in my power to never read another Dickens novel again for as long as I live.
Reasons for Leaving: boring, bland, torturous writing. I thought I was actually going to die.
Likelihood of Resuming Someday: Never again, oh goodness please no.
This one was actually for a Medieval History class, which was about as enjoyable as you could expect a 9:00 a.m. lecture class to be. To be honest with you, I read the beginning and end of this one. Since the middle was mostly a list of all the people our heroes killed ("and then he killed this guy, and then that guy, and then about 1000 more) I figured it was safe to skip it. The beginning and end had some interesting bits that made for a useful final exam essay, but that's about all I got out of it. (Sorry, Eric.)
Reasons for Leaving: The middle was tedious and repetitive.
Likelihood of Resuming Someday: It's an interesting and useful source for the time period, so maybe? We'll see.
Well, that's what I've been not reading this semester. Soon I'll tell you about what I actually finished. Hint: it was pretty awesome. See you soon!