Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What a Difference a Day (Or Two) Makes

I find this interesting:  when I read the first chapter or two of "Bleak House" I loved it.  Then, as my reading got sporadic due to my London trip, reading it became somewhat of an effort, as I alluded to in my last blog post.  The numerous characters got all jumbled up in my head, and as colorful as those characters were, I felt they were somewhat cartoonish, which made them hard for me to relate to.  Now that I am back at home, and getting settled into my routine schedule where I can read a bit every day, I find I am again greatly enjoying "Bleak House" again.  The characters are all settled in my mind, and the humor is really jumping out at me.  I'm finding the book to be quite delightful, and I'm laughing out loud rather frequently as I crawl through the pages.  So why the change in attitude?  I'm not sure.  I suspect the stress of travel, and the large and event-filled breaks between reading sessions made it difficult to climb into the world that Dickens builds in this novel.  And it is indeed a separate world that Dickens creates here, even more so than in most novels, I think.  This novel works much better, at least for me, now that there's time to let myself walk into that world, and forget about this one.  This discovery makes me wonder:  how many books have I read that I disliked, or did not get much out of, but which I could have enjoyed if my mind had been in a more receptive state?  Are some books more suited to a particular frame of mind than others?  Louis Pasteur famously said "Chance favors the prepared mind".  Is this true for literature as well?


J.D. said...

This is an interesting thought. I often think reading a book for a class ruins its allure for me, which is funny since I'm now a teacher.

Somehow, being forced to read something always put me in a mindset to dislike it. Upon returning to it later, I often found I liked it.

Kristin said...

>Are some books more suited to a particular frame of mind than others?

Yes, I believe so. There are a number of books that I have read and not particularly enjoyed simply because I didn't devote the time and effort they needed ("Heart of Darkness" comes to mind). I also find that heavier/darker books (especially Russian novels) are best read during the winter. Dickens, for me, is always an October read...except of course his Christmas stories!