For the Record

Let the record state that I have finally accomplished a longtime goal of mine…and this time I did it WELL ahead of my deadline.

I have finally finished this book.

I bought Middlemarch shortly before Christmas 2010. I decided that one of my goals for 2011 was to read this book. With this in mind, I started reading this book about a year or so ago, stuck the king of diamonds from a deck of playing cards that I found in an end-table somewhere around page 34, and stopped reading it until about ten days ago.

Needless to say, I failed at completing that particular goal for 2011. So I put it on my list of goals for 2012.

Now, if you know me, you know that I’m currently working as a substitute teacher. Being a substitute teacher, I have an hour or two of downtime during the day that is the regular teacher’s planning period(s). The regular teacher has to work to do during this time; I don’t. So I bring books with me and read. (Or I go and observe other teachers in the building…in a very specific circumstance, but that’s another story that I’m not quite ready to share.)

So, I’ve read The House at Riverton by Kate Morton and The Boy in the Stripped Pajamas by John Boyne. I highly recommend both books. I also recommend the movie of The Boy... even more than I recommend the book.

After I finished those books…and a couple others that I’m not recommending, I re-started reading Middlemarch. I was determined to finish it by the middle of March…to be ironical. Or something.

Well, I did it. I did this almost entirely in planning periods while subbing…except I read the last 60ish pages at home tonight because I wanted to know how the story ended. Now, much of this is in large part due to Senor K’s two-and-a-half hour prep period that I enjoyed on Tuesday. And the two-hour-long prep that Mrs. R had that I used yesterday didn’t hurt anything either.

But either way, I’m done. I can cross that off my bucket-list and my 2012 to-do list.

Did I like it? I don’t know. I think it is a good book and it is decidedly well-written. But at the same time, I think it’s a little too full of its own virtue. I really disliked the fact that the majority of the epigraphs where written by George Eliot herself. If you’re going to put epigraphs in your book, quote someone else. Otherwise, you sound self-centered. (Sorry, Marian/Marianne/George; that’s just how I feel.)

Nevertheless, Mr. Eliot/Miss Evans did manage to make me care about her characters. They annoyed me. They made me sad. They made me happy. Heck, I’m even relatively sure that they made me chuckle a time or two.

This is the best way I can describe Middlemarch. A few years ago, a friend of mine described the book as “literary brussel sprouts.” Now brussel sprouts have a really bad reputation, but a few months ago, I ate some brussel sprouts that were absolutely delicious. Brussel sprouts are good for you. And they can be delicious. And honestly, in the end, I liked Middlemarch.

But I’m sorry, Virginia Woolf. It is not the only, or even one of the only, novels for adults in the English language.

And now I need more books to read.


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