Why you should read Les Misérables

You’re watching it on PBS, and maybe you can hum all the tunes from the musical – but there’s nothing quite like reading the book itself.

But it’s so looong!

True. Compared to the miniseries adaptation‘s six-hour running time, the unabridged audiobook – read by master narrator George Guidall – runs for over sixty hours, and the Modern Library edition is 1,330 pages long, with 365 chapters. One reason that many 19th Century novels are so long is that they were originally read serially, in weekly installments, rather than straight-through. Read this way, the novel’s length becomes an asset, stretching out the narrative across time. Prolong the pleasure! Set out to read one chapter a day, for a year – and enjoy binging ahead when you just can’t stand the suspense.

What suspense? I already know the story! Continue reading “Why you should read Les Misérables”

Reading Notre Dame

Vision of Notre Dame: a sketch by Victor Hugo

It has to be the worst possible reason to have a bestseller. In the wake of last week’s devastating fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel Notre Dame de Paris – perhaps better known to English speakers as The Hunchback of Notre Dame – has climbed to the top of the charts.

One unforgettable passage in particular has grown more even more poignant. Continue reading “Reading Notre Dame”

#BookBingoNW2017: Reread a Book You Read in School

Although we are hard pressed to think of a single drawback to Book Bingo, it is true that for some readers it calls forth unwelcome memories of required reading. Yet the popularity of bingo and similar reading challenges and groups suggests that something appeals to us about being stretched beyond our habitual reading appetites. Might those same restrictions we chafed at in school suddenly feel like a welcome dose of structure, now that we can read whatever we please?

Rereading can be an interesting way of deepening our awareness both of a text, and of our former selves. This is especially true when we willingly and with curiosity take up some book that we have previously experienced as obligatory drudgery. Freed from the need to take notes, uncover themes or prep for a quiz, we can encounter afresh some of the best and most engaging books ever written, reclaiming them for our own.

Continue reading “#BookBingoNW2017: Reread a Book You Read in School”

Book Bingo: Written Over 100 Years Ago – Vintage Beach Reads!

Join The Seattle Public Library and Seattle Arts & Lectures for our 2nd annual Summer Book Bingo for adults! Follow us throughout the summer for reading suggestions based on each category.

Wait, we’ve got a Book Bingo square asking you to read a book written over one hundred years ago? This is Summer reading! What’s with Ye Olde musty dusty classics!? Not to worry: there are plenty of great escapist beach reads that have been around for at least a century.

Jurassic

Continue reading “Book Bingo: Written Over 100 Years Ago – Vintage Beach Reads!”

125th Anniversary Series: What We Were Reading in 1891

2016 marks the 125th anniversary of The Seattle Public Library. After it was adopted as a department of the city in 1890, the Library opened its first reading room in Pioneer Square on April 8, 1891. To honor this milestone, we will be posting a series of articles here about the Library’s history and life in the 1890’s. We also encourage our patrons to share their favorite memories of SPL on social media using the hashtag #SPL125. Be sure to follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest. – editor

Wouldn’t it be great if you could take a time machine back to the 1890s? You can! When we read like people in the 1890s, we see the world through their eyes. Go there now, via titles that were all the rage in the Gilded Age: Continue reading “125th Anniversary Series: What We Were Reading in 1891”