I’m calling it a day for Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon. It was good and it’s made me realize I should set more time aside for reading. Continue reading “Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon Update #2”
So far so good. My 24-hour readathon got off to a good start and although I haven’t read as much as I hoped I would, I’m trying to go easy on myself. If anything, I’ve done more reading today than I usually do! Continue reading “Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon Update #1”
Tomorrow is Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon, a reading challenge in which all participants read all day and share their experiences on blogs and social media platforms. Readers also participate in mini-challenges and win prizes. To prepare for Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon, I’m selecting all the books I plan to read through the day. Continue reading “Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon TBR”
What is Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-A-Thon, you ask?
It’s a fun reading challenge where you choose a book (or a few books) and read as much as possible during the day. You can read for the full 24 hours and suffer a sleep-deprived, reading hangover…or read for most of the day. Continue reading “Today is Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-A-Thon!”
My read-a-thon did not go exactly as planned.
But that’s okay because I plan to foster my reading habit everyday. Even if it means just reading an interesting article on communications or social media, an engaging blog post or a how-to book.
I’ve actually learned a lot about myself this summer. Continue reading “Read-A-Thon Update: Summer Reflections”
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way–in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”
– Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
I love this opening passage of the novel because it’s so iconic and because it embodies so much of what characterizes Charles Dickens’ writing style.
For me, his writing style is what took centre stage in the novel– even before the plot line itself. I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy the book at first because it seemed to have such a slow start and pace, but as I continued reading it, I found myself really enjoying his writing.
I learned very quickly that Charles Dickens was a descriptive writer, who had the talent of describing characters and their mannerisms thoroughly. He was an observer of his time, noting the social and political issues, the people and the mood.
The story gradually becomes more engaging and intriguing with its mystery, foreshadowing and revelations. Maybe what I felt was a slow pace was just Charles Dickens’ way of building suspense and intrigue.
A Tale of Two Cities begins in 1775 with unrest in both England and France. Mr. Lorry, a teller from Tellson’s Bank in England reunites a young orphan named Lucie Manette with her father, Dr. Manette in a suburb of Paris, France. Dr. Manette, now a shoemaker, is mentally disturbed by his past imprisonment in the Bastille Tower. He doesn’t remember who imprisoned him but he leaves with Lucie and Mr. Lorry back to England.
Years pass and it is 1780, when Charles Darnay, a young and charming Frenchman, is accused of being a spy in England. A lawyer named Stryver pleads Charles’ case but it is Sydney Carton, a troubled but clever English lawyer, who acquits Charles Darnay. Lucie and her father are also involved in testifying during this trial. Lucie gives her account of meeting Charles Darnay on a ship from France to England and regards Charles with sympathy. After Charles is released, he and Sydney go to a tavern, and talk about Lucie. This foreshadows Sydney and Charles’ love for Lucie later on in the novel.
Sydney and Charles frequently visit Lucie and her father in Soho. It is through Charles and Sydney’s friendship, and through their love for Lucie that their fates become intertwined. Mystery surrounds Dr. Manette because there is a past and story he has mentally suppressed, and there is mystery around Charles Darnay as well, because he has another identity tied to his past. The novel shows how past is closely tied to present and how people’s lives are interconnected.
All of this is set against the backdrop of the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror. Danger, intrigue and suspense ensue as Charles and Sydney find themselves in France, in the middle of unrest, violence and bloodshed. There are twists and turns, revelations and surprises as the novel progresses, and finishes with an unexpected ending.
I really enjoyed A Tale of Two Cities and Charles Dickens surprised me. I think of him as a highly skilled and versatile writer. He was a little bit quirky in his writing style, which gave him a uniqueness and a flair.
Reading A Tale of Two Cities reminded me that reading a novel doesn’t mean rushing through it at breakneck speed (which always happens when I’m excited about a book and it’s a fairly easy read). You can’t just flip through a Dickens book–it takes patience, reflection and time to read his work. He wrote in great detail and in lengthy sentences with many pauses throughout, almost as if he were thinking out loud.
I never read or studied Charles Dickens in school, but wish I had. This was an excellent read to start my read-a-thon and I’m looking forward to the next classic!
What classics have you read or would you recommend? Did you read A Tale of Two Cities? If so, what did you like/dislike about it?
I took a BBC quiz recently and was very disappointed by my results. I had only read 11 of the listed classics, just over the average of 6.
That’s when I realized I don’t read as much as I used to, or as often as I should. Stephen King says that if you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time or tools to write.
Books are how we writers learn the craft–they were our first teacher and mentor, showing us the ways to excite, thrill, terrify and capture our readers. It was through reading Nancy Drew mysteries that I learned about the magic of cliffhangers, through Anne of Green Gables that I learned about the power and beauty of descriptive language, and through Tolkien that I learned about the philosophy of words.
That’s why I’ve taken it upon myself to read as many classics as I can over the next few months and post my thoughts about them. I enjoy reading and have read a fair amount, but I haven’t read nearly enough classics in my opinion.
I’ve set a goal for about 15 and September as a deadline, as I think the summer months are the perfect time to kick back and enjoy some reading outdoors on a nice patio. I plan to start April 28th.
The only read-a-thon I’ve really tried is Canada Reads and that was a great experience in discovering new books that I might not have chosen to read.
Coincidentally, Dewey’s 24-hour Read-a-thon happens today and on a day in October. People read books for 24 hours, post on their blogs about their experience and visit other people’s blogs. Maybe I’ll try Dewey’s read-a-thon in October.
Do you read as often as you’d like? Do you participate in any read-a-thons?