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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. – editor