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How to Ruin Reading

     Bleak HouseAs much as I complain about having to do it (and being Irish, I am fond of complaining), I do like reading. I find it enjoyable. It’s a particularly useful hobby to have for those horrendous moments of panic when the internet is down and you can’t waste your evening away interneting.

     But if there’s one way to ruin reading, it’s by making someone have to read a specific book by a deadline. Even if it’s a really good book and something you enjoy, the fun is taken out of it.

     Doing an English degree, I find this happens quite frequently.

     You show up at the first lecture and receive the reading list. So follows is a careful plan being made of when you have to have each book read by and seeing ‘oh, I don’t have lectures on a Wednesday, I shall have to use Wednesday to get ALL of my reading done’ and even marking down in your to-do list ‘get 25% read by Sunday to keep on track of things’ (as an occasional kindle user I am partial to the percentage marker). This method probably isn’t used by the majority of people, but it’s how I roll when it comes to reading for classes.

     What this does though is ruin reading. It becomes something that has to be done rather than something enjoyable and I think the problem is having the deadline. I don’t mind having to read the books (and I’ve managed to get through some pretty boring and difficult reads for English lectures), but having the deadline puts an amount of pressure on getting it read.

     I’m currently reading Bleak House by Charles Dickens for a class on Victorian texts. Now, Bleak House is a long text – around 750 pages I think, going by my copy, but it’s a good read. Admittedly, I watched the BBC TV series made in 2005 that I found handily on Netflix first because I had a lot of notes to write out which is easier to do in front of the TV (or laptop in my case) than a book,  but nevertheless, I do like the book.

     We were given our reading list in the first week of the semester and the lectures on Bleak House aren’t until next week, week five of the semester. That’s loads of time to get it read!

     But in that time I’ve also had to read The Great Gatsby, Of Mice and Men and Quicksand for my American literature class, which happily enough are all fairly short, but for Victorian texts: a selection of poetry…and the dreaded Wuthering Heights. All the while having other college work to do, and when I say other college work I mean Japanese study which is very time consuming.

     Anyway, the point of that list is that I haven’t actually had a chance to start Bleach House until quite recently and am now finding myself with limited time to get through the more than 700 pages. If I were reading for enjoyment, it might take a very long time to get through but at least I’d be able to read it properly and think about what I’m reading (something quite needed for Bleak House as you work your way through the myriad of names, trying to remember and figure out how everyone is connected to everyone else), but I can’t do that.

     In order to have it read for the lecture, I am forcing myself to read as quickly as possible which is causing details to be lost to me and the enjoyment as well.

     Finishing my ramblings for now,

     Emma

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4 thoughts on “How to Ruin Reading

  1. If English professors were kindly people they would adopt Hard Times as the set text, which is much shorter than Bleak House. But they never do. It’s still a Victorian novel, and by Dickens. But for some reason it has to be a long novel, as if no one ever wrote short stories in Victorian times.

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    1. I have noticed that all the Victorian texts are quite long. Luckily we’re studying some poetry this week to break it up, but hell, even the poems are long!
      Hard Times would be much nicer to get through, what with half the page count and all. My only saving grace is that at least the BBC have a fondness for making tv adaptations of victorian texts.

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