giving up on great expectations

So there's this awesome website, dailylit.com, where you can get books delivered to your inbox or rss aggregator. Public domain books are free, and copyrighted books are offered for less than you'd pay on half.com (which, in my opinion, seems to have better prices and is more reasonable for sellers, than amazon...heresy, I know).

When I first discovered dailylit, I got excited and thought that maybe this was my shot at getting through some of those 'great works' I've been meaning to read but just can't seem to strike my fancy the way other (read: less significant and thus less likely to come up in intelligent discussions and thus seemingly less likely to cause me to embarrass myself) books do. Austen and Dickens, Moby Dick, and a few classic self-help books appear on the 'free table.'

And so, in a cloud of enterprising spirit and romantic notions, not to mention the thrill of having something to fill in the gaps of boredom at work (this was back in the day when those existed, mind you), I signed up to read Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I'd attempted to read this book several years ago, but I just couldn't manage to plod my way through the first couple of chapters. I kept getting distracted at the wordiness, and it's hard to take a book seriously when you keep getting stuck on the fact that the author was CLEARLY paid by the word, and thus you are faced with a few too many word-flourishes.

In short, I thought Great Expectations was really boring the first time around, and I'd put it down in lieu of the Great Gatsby. This time, I resolved to plod through it, page by page, this time, because surely there was more to it! Besides, even if it is STILL boring after a few years, at least I only have to devote about a minute and a half per day on reading it.

Oh how the young are naive. I'm still finding it difficult to plod through, even if I'm being spoon-fed. Every couple of days I decide to stop the subscription, and it's right at that moment that the plot moves forward enough to keep me interested for the next couple of days.

In general, I am a fan of simplicity and a modicum of hedonism. If it's more stressful or agonizing or just plain boring than it is pleasant or useful, I tend not to do something. Live life to the fullest, cast off the shackles of useless things, release what is no longer serving you, blah blah blah. I am torn on this issue, though, because I value being well read, appreciating good writing, and generally crossing things off the 'to read' list.

If I continue at this pace, I will be reading Dickens into next year, and lingering in a book makes me a little bit crazy. Does this outweigh the prospect of NOT reading the book? Of giving up on Dickens again, and plunging back into ignorance? Being well-read requires determination, of course, but where does 'being well-read' take a knee to enjoying the process? Ultimately I don't read because I 'should' - I read because I like reading.

Your thoughts?

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