Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Now is the time for Copperfield

Lately, I have been reading David Copperfield as part of my nighttime routine. My paperback copy of Dickens' illustrious work was found collecting dust one summer in a second-hand book shop at Winnipeg Beach. I was inspired to my $2.00 purchase by some vague feeling that it was virtuous to read the classics (or, at least, have them on your bookshelf). So, after 6 months or so of allowing the book to collect dust in my possession, I picked it up and actually started to read.

Though I've read Dickens before, it has always been of the shorter Christmas-themed type, so Copperfield's complexity came as a bit of a shock. With a dictionary within reach, I struggled to make sense of the unfamiliar language, reading chapter after chapter, until one day, after finishing the chapter XII, I came to a realization. David was off to seek his aunt, whom he had never met, out of desperate times that were a result of many hardships in his young life, and I didn't care. Not at all! He could get there, or not, and it would make no difference to me. This orphaned and abused boy had just been robbed, and was off on a long journey on foot, and I didn't have any interest in reading the next chapter. So I didn't.

Fast forward a year or so. Nik is born, and I am reading every baby care book and website I can find. His sleep problems begin, and that triggers another reading binge, starting with sleep solution books, and branching off into basic parenting philosophies. I am starting to make myself crazy with all this research. Then my sister lends me a book by Billie Letts, out of the blue, Where the Heart Is. It is a breeze to read, and I am done it within the week. Now, I have the fiction bug. I pick up A Wizard of Earthsea, one of Andrew's books on the shelf downstairs. More difficult, but thin, and it only takes me a few weeks to get through. Upon completing both books, I feel a sense of loss. I have really begun to look forward to my before-bed chapter, in the quiet of the evening, tucked into bed. The books just aren't lasting long enough.

And then I remember Copperfield. I remember how I felt it would never end, and how a month of reading it barely made a dent in the book. I realize that if I am looking for a book that will last, I need to look no further. So, I pull it off of the shelf, and pick up where I left off, at Chapter XIII. Soon I meet Betsey Trotwood and Mr. Dick, and watch Janet chasing the donkeys off of the lawn, and David is put to bed under Mr. Dick's sound advice, and I am hooked.

Now is the time in my life to read David Copperfield. Now is the time in my life where reading a chapter of such a long and formally-written book is a respite and not a chore. My intellect is challenged, and my need for quiet and still and uninterruption is met. Surprisingly, the book that I gave up on over a year ago is my sanctuary today. A good lesson to extrapolate, I think.

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