Monday, February 2, 2015

2015: The Year of Reading...

The 2015 Reading Challenge. I'm starting now!
A 2015 reading challenge shared by Anne of 

I'm not really sure if I've ever had a year where I didn't read, but this year I'm making it a priority. My friend Shannan shared the above challenge from Modern Mrs. Darcy and my interest was immediately piqued. So often I focus on changing my food habits, being mindful of portions and fullness levels, trying to make sure I exercise that I can get overwhelmed with things I feel like I HAVE to do... but reading is such an enjoyable activity for me. 

It's something I love to do, so why not accept a challenge in reading. We started a small little "book club" on face*book to discuss and share about the books we're reading. Each month we're choosing from one of the topics above. So far we've all been choosing different books in each theme and then sharing about what we've learned from them, if we enjoyed them, if we'd read them again, etc... 

For the month of January we chose the topic of "A book that you should have read in high school."  I picked A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens. 

One thing I was debating about this challenge was if it mattered whether we read a physical book, an e-book, or listened to an unabridged audio book. As a group we decided that whatever way was easiest and best for us as individuals was perfectly fine. Since I commute to work, I listen to a LOT of books via Audi*ble. I'd even say that 95% of my reading is done through listening. Generally I retain a lot more information that way, and it's easy for me to get involved in a story much more quickly. 

A Tale of Two Cities, however... was a completely different ballgame. First I tried reading a kindle version of the book. That lasted for about 2 chapters. The language is so different from what we're used too in today's times, that I had a really hard time stepping into the story and trying to understand it. Next I found this very old hardback copy from the library I work at. I was able to get through about 100 pages using the hardback copy... but again it was a painful read and I just didn't think I'd ever finish the book reading it in the traditional way. FINALLY, I bought an audio book version on Audi*ble, one that was narrated by Simon Vance (one of my favorite audio book narrators - another book he has read is"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.")  

As much as I love Simon Vance's reading style and voice... I continued to have a very difficult time understanding the varied plot lines, characters, and themes of this book. I can honestly say, I don't think I could have gotten through it in high school. I was determined to finish the book for this challenge though, and by January 29th I had completed listening to it. 

To help me further understand the story I also watched an older movie version on You*Tube, a "Cliffs*notes" cartoon on You*Tube, and I took an online quiz (I got 11 correct... *sigh* lol!) So this book definitely would not have been a great way to start out my high school English semester. 

However, I think if I read a modern day and/or modern English retelling of the story I would probably enjoy it a lot more. The relationship between the father and daughter is sweet and compelling. My favorite characters were the owners of the wine shop, Mr. and Mrs. Defarge just because their personalities were so unique and strong, yet also quite troubled. It would have been much easier to read this book with a teacher's guide to help me understand all of the Christian allegories along with the roles of friendship, loyalty, patriotism, division of classes, etc... There are so many themes rolling together throughout this book it was a challenge for me to try to keep up with them all. 

Have you read a Tale of Two Cities? What are/were your thoughts and feelings on the book? 

Our group decided that for February we could choose a book that's currently on the bestseller list. My personal pick is "The Girl on the Train" by Paula Hawkins. I'll share my review and thoughts on that book later this month! I hope you'll join us in challenging yourself to read more this year!

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