After some trials and tribulations with Victorian novels, I would like to share these following tips not only how to complete reading these super thicks book but also to enjoy literary journeys with classic canons.
- Mood matters
Honesty is number one rule in reading. Pick a book that perfectly suits current state of emotion. I, for instance, choose ‘Far from The Madding Crowd’ because I want to read something a little bit about women and men equality at that time. It turns out that this second Victorian reading becomes the first experience that kicks off my years-long trip with the Victorian books.
For such a serious person like me, reading, no matter how pleasant it is, requires a commitment. This is so important as it consistently reminds me not to be a quitter. I have to end what I start. That is to say I must complete reading all books that I buy, not only because I spend some money on them but also I must stick to what I begin. As such, I will attempt to make use of any vacant time to read. I may abandon some books for certain time but I will return to them unless I find they are really hard to digest or I don’t enjoy reading several titles that I will leave them for good.
- Being selective
It’s really helpful to search on the internet on which titles you are going to read. You can start with reading some titles of the favorite authors that you haven’t read or you can randomly select some books via topics. Or even if you have no ideas at all you can simply go to bookstores, take a look at the brief summary that is usually written at the back cover. If you are still unconvinced with the summary, you can read books’ first few pages as I always do.
- Big picture, big picture
Knowing book summary is the key to the overall journey. Victorian novels are so rich that they can be tricky in a way that there will be so many minor characters, events that may carry you away too far from the core of the book itself. Just remember that whenever you come to the points where you seem get lost in the story because of encountering new, minor characters or small incidents, you’d better temporarily halt your reading. Be quick to recoqnize that they are not really essential. That’s why reading the summary, understanding what books are all about, knowing the names of the major characters are very vital to guide you throughout the book. Aren’t main messages, big characters that make books worth your time?
- The devils are in the details
Victorian books, as I often say, are such priceless arts. The language, story, characterizations, for me, are marvelous. But the enjoyment they provide may distress those, like me, as non native English speakers, for understanding each and every word they convey. Those beautiful, flowery, mind-blowing phrases are surely too precious to be just taken for granted. But, paying too close attention to those will burden us as we will spend too much time to open up dictionary finding out what they actually mean.
- Taking some notes, asking help from internet
I sometimes forget to do this step or as reading process goes on I stop taking some notes but I strongly you to stick to this tip. Given its long plot with again, many minor characters, small events that can distract your reading focus, it’s good to have some notes on certain moments of the novels that matter most. Or you can write several names that come up as your reading proceeds as I sometimes experience to have met new, important characters in the middle or even in the third last part of the novels.
And if you remain puzzled with the story or the significance of certain characters, internet is always abundant with information. There are always other readers, especially native English speakers, who understand better. Yet, it’s better for you to ask their help only whenever you are in great difficulty or after you finish reading books but still find some aspects or characters that puzzle you. And yes, avoid spoilers.
- Trials and errors
I don’t remember how many fruitless efforts I have made with Victorian novels. Even after applying some of the aforementioned strategies, I sometimes find myself get cheated. There are some books that turn out to be so boring that I take so many efforts to have eventually finished reading them all. Some are even left unread. But I never give up. I learn from my mistakes though, yes, I keep making similar mistakes once in a while. Never mind, though. That won’t stop me from reading another title and another title. I now regard enjoying Victorian masterpieces, or novels in larger extent, as never ending trip that is going to surprise me in remarkable ways, either good or bad, but the point is I try to enjoy all trips in all those books. And I sincerely hope you do, too.