Over the past few days I finished the three books from my last post (Wired to Create received 2 out of 5 stars, The Lady Investigates 3, and David Copperfield obviously got 5). I followed those up with a mediocre YA fairy tale retelling (The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine. Not worth the time.) Now I’m back to juggling two “print” books and one audio book. This time they are all well-known books because I’m trying to put a dent in my to-read list (currently at 1,003.) They are Dracula by Bram Stoker, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, and Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.
All 3 of these books have been on my official to-read list since 2010 and on my “mental” to-read list for many years even before that. I’m very excited to be done with them once and for all…the thought of finishing is about the only thing keeping me going with at least one of them (cough…Mr. La Mancha.)
I’m 114 pages into Dracula and it is finally picking up (though the last chapter was kind of slow.) However, despite the excess of romanticism and slow start, I really am enjoying the book. I love the author’s use of journal entries and letters to tell the story. Epistolary novels were nothing new when this was published, but I don’t think I’ve read anything from its era quite as well developed with the journal entries/letters. It has a proper flavor of horror that I’m immensely enjoying. After years of reading spin-off novels and comparisons, it is nice to finally meet Dr. Van Helsing, Mina, and even Count Dracula “in the flesh.” I think I will get along splendidly with this one.
I’m less sure about Heart of Darkness, but I haven’t gotten as far. Actually, I’ve barely read the first page. The actual text is only 77 pages but the copy I have is 509 pages. It is full of “Backgrounds and Contexts,” including “Nineteenth-Century Attitudes Towards Race,” and “Criticism,” such as “Cannibalizing Traditions: Representation and Critique in Heart of Darkness.” It is an intimidating sight and I don’t think I’m interested enough in the actual work to read all of it. Or maybe any of it besides the 77 pages of text. We’ll see how it goes. If this book is as confusing as my friend Kris says, I might need the other 432 pages to explain it. But what kind of book needs 432 pages of explanation? Doesn’t sound like a book that should be published.
Finally, my audio book, good old Don Quixote. I have had a copy of the work for years but it really isn’t one of those books you see on your shelf and think ‘Ah, I am going to tackle Cervantes today.’ Or at least, I don’t. The audio book is 38 hours. I am on disc 4 of 28 or 29 and am pretty unimpressed. It is interesting, fantastical, and I hope tongue-in-cheek, but with an odd lack of cohesion so far. Waaayyyy too much poetry. And there are the most random details thrown in….like 10 minutes of his friends discussing his library before burning it. Anyway, I’m determined to finish and maybe this book will have a shocking, stellar ending that will tie everything together. Maybe. Probably not. It has to be famous for some reason, though. Right now I just hope it won’t put me to sleep while I’m driving.