Monday, September 8, 2014

Saving the Best for Last

I have a friend who loves Dickens.  (I don't hold this against her.)  She's read and loved everything old Chuck wrote, from the well-known Great Expectations  and Christmas Carol stock to the lesser known short stories and novellas.

What she hasn't read?  Our Mutual Friend.

And I loved her reason--she's saving it.

Dickens is, in his own colorful terms, "dead as a doornail" so certainly isn't writing any more.  Once you've read the last plot twist, the last unique character, the last ending,  you're done. You can re-read, of course--and I'm a huge proponent of re-reading beloved novels--but the last surprise has been had.

I just bought a new book this weekend--four novels in one volume by one of my absolute favorite writers, Irene Nemirovsky.   Though Nemirovsky died in 1942 (ethnically Jewish, she was sent to a Auschwitz and died there at the age of 39), I have one advantage over my friend and Dickens--not all of her work has been translated or is readily available in English printings.  But the impulse to "save" at least one of her books remains.

When I compare this to fangirling over a living favorite author, the impulse makes a lot of sense.  We eagerly await the publication of the next novel, the start of a new series, the conclusion of a beloved trilogy.  When there will be no more new novels, saving books becomes a way to preserve that excitement.

Sound like something that would appeal to you?  A few ways to save a favorite:

1) Pick a "start" date and read your favorite author in the order he or she was published, with the original wait times in between books.  So, for instance, start with Dickens' The Pickwick Papers in "1837" (ie, today) and read Oliver Twist two years from now (in "1839").  Following his publication history, you have about 28 years (!!!) of reading.

2) Pick milestones to celebrate by reading an unread book by your favorite author.  For instance, read a new book every five years on milestone birthdays.

3) Classic authors are constantly being released in new editions--and some are downright gorgeous.  Wait for a "new release" and buy a beautiful book.

4) Wait to read with someone else.  For instance, parents and grandparents can wait until kids or grandkids are old enough for the author, then read a book you've never read together.

What do you think--does "saving" books make sense?  Or would you rather devour your favorite author's work without leaving a morsel untouched?

2 comments:

  1. I don't think I want to do it, but the idea of reading all of Dickens as serially published is somewhat enticing! On the other hand, portioning out a chapter per month would make me even more confused by the plot twists. (I still don't quite understand the ending of Little Dorrit, and I've watched it twice and read the book.)

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  2. True about the plot twists! I have a now-retired English teacher friend who used to have her classes read Dickens in serialized rather than novel form--she said it did keep them more engaged, and I think that's what she was aiming for--just making classics engaging and accessible. An interesting idea!

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