Sunday, November 04, 2012

Deciding to Join "Bleak House" Read-a-Long in the Aftermath of Sandy

This week I was going to post what I learned from my vacation to Northern California, but in the aftermath of storm Sandy writing about a vacation seems inappropriate.

My brother lives in NYC.  Here is a picture he took of the west village from his apartment window immediately after the storm.  If you look closely you can see the dark buildings in the background. How eerie it must have been:

I didn't hear from him again until Tuesday night at 6:00 p.m. when he emailed to say, "Just walked north twenty blocks and charging phone at an ATM. They think the power will take a few days to a week."

On Wednesday he went to Brooklyn and spent the rest of the week with friends.  His power was restored Saturday morning at 4:00 a.m.  It took 12 hours for his apartment to reheat.  The building where he works will be open tomorrow, but will not have heat until Wednesday.   Today he was supposed to have run in the NYC marathon; he is not too upset that the race has been canceled though since he injured his knee a couple of weeks ago.  Instead he is staying inside and is reading Daniel J. Boorstin's book The Creators: A History of Heroes of the Imagination:

According to Wikipedia this book is about the story of mankind's creativity. It highlights great works of art, music and literature but it is more than a recitation or list. It is a book of ideas and the people behind those ideas. It encompasses architecture, music, literature, painting, sculpture, the performing arts, theater, religious expression and philosophy.

He is enjoying the book, but at 832 pages it is a daunting read.

Speaking of daunting reads, I have decided to join a read-a-long of Charles Dickens’ classic novel Bleak House hosted by Jenny (Jenny Love to Read) and Trish (Love, Laughter and a Touch of Insanity). 

I've been meaning to read one of Charles Dickens' books for some time, so when Kim from Sophisticated Dorkiness  mentioned she was participating in the read-a-long I decided to join as well.  In the past I've found it easier to read a classic novel as part of a book club or on-line discussion group.  According to the book's jacket the novel is about:
The injustices of the out-of-date English legal system, which bring misery and ruin to the characters involved in settling the distribution of the Jarndyse estate.  The other great theme of the novel is that of hypocritical philanthropists-portrayed here in the character of Mrs. Jellby-who bestow charity on distant lands at the expense of family and neighbours. 
I also spotted Bleak House on Flavorwire's An Essential Stormy Weather Reading List where they wrote:
Bleak House begins with the weather: “Implacable November weather” with a dense fog everywhere. Not only this, but mud and drizzle and flakes of soot “as big as full-grown snow-flakes — gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun.” The weather is meant, at least in part, to evoke the equally dark and oppressive mire of the mid-nineteenth century judicial system — both topics perfect to read about while sitting safe inside by the fire as a wild storm rages outside.
How appropriate.  Also, since injustice is one of my favorite reading topics along with the fact that Bleak House is considered Dickens best work this should be a good read for me.

The only problem is my copy of the book is 880 pages long.  Talk about daunting.  It is a good thing the read-a-long doesn't end until December 31st.

What is the most daunting book you have ever read?  Have you read any of Charles Dickens' works?  If you've read the  Bleak House what were your thoughts?

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  1. I'm glad you're joining the Bleak House read-a-long. I'm just a bit into the audio book, but so far I like it a lot.

  2. Anonymous9:29 PM

    Most daunting book to date: Atlas Shrugged, hands down.

    Currently wading through Anna Karenina (after recently giving up on Vanity Fair).

    Love Dickens - well, Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities, anyway.

  3. I'm glad to hear that your brother is OK and has power back. It's been a bit surreal to say the least. I've read Great Expectations and a Tale of Two Cities but haven't read Bleak House.

  4. I'm glad your brother is safe. I haven't read Charles Dickens’ Bleak House yet but I think it would be interesting to read. :)

  5. My friends in NJ went back to school for one day and not they are closed again tomorrow for snow!

  6. I'm thinking Crime and Punishment was the most daunting. Although, for me, any Jane Austen is pretty daunting. I did finish the last Harry Potter book in about sixteen hours. It's all about how good the writing and story are.

    Thanks for some new recommendations.

    Happy Sharefest.

  7. I read "War and Peace" in preparation for taking a literature class on it, and then I didn't end up taking the class! I loved it, though--great to read and not "heavy" at all. I did pass on reading it again, though, when my book club read it.

  8. Happy Sharefest! That is an amazing photo, and like you said, so eerie. I feel for so many people who were impacted by this fierce storm.

  9. Kim,
    I am too. I've only read a few pages, but after I got past the Jarndyce and Jaryndyce introduction it doesn't seem so daunting.

  10. Ah - Atlas Shrugged definitely a daunting book. I attempted to read it about 20 years ago, after my roommate’s boyfriend raved about how it was the best book he’d ever read. I quit after I was about 75% finished. I couldn’t take the secret underground society any longer – I thought it was stupid. I know that was the whole point of the book.

    I also own A Tale of Two Cities, but have never read more than one or two pages.

  11. Christine,
    Thanks I'm glad too. Is everything back to normal for your family?

    Two Dickens books - I'm impressed.

  12. Anna,
    Thanks for the well wishes.

  13. Sorta Southern Single Mom,
    Crazy, but important that they stay home and are safe. NJ desperately needs a break.

  14. Miss Robin,
    I agree Crime and Punishment is a daunting read. The russian vocabulary doesn't help. I certainly wouldn't classify Jane Austin as an easy read either. Can you believe it - I haven't read any of the Harry Potter books. I think I was already preferring nonfiction when they came out.

  15. Marcy,
    War and Peace? I think it would take more than a readalong to get me to read this one. I've read Anna Karenina and that is enough Tolstoy for me. At least for now anyway. Impressed you've read it.

  16. Leigh Powell Hines,
    Thanks for stopping in. I agree so many lives were affected. I have seen quite a few charities that seem legitimate this time around.

  17. It's really something to look back and see what was going on a year ago. Being in Philly I was spared damage from Sandy. In my area there were just incidents of damage from downed trees.