A few weeks ago, I finished reading Emile Zola’s The Masterpiece (thoughts here). As you may recall, I wasn’t thrilled with it. Nevertheless, it has been haunting me.
Shortly after I finished that Zola novel, I picked up The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. I found it rather frustrating to read. “What is the point?” I kept thinking as one adventure led in to another. I was not particularly enjoying it. Since I was also under a self-imposed time limit in which to read Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky, I thought I’d take a Dumas break and read that. C&P is one of my favorite books, and this reread was no exception. It was my priority read so I read it in about a week and a half. So deep, so thoughtful, so intricate and realistic. I loved being brought inside Rodya’s head.
Last night I finished C&P on an emotional high and again picked up The Three Musketeers, since my Classics Circuit date and book club meeting is fast approaching. With in seconds, I was laughing. Dumas is so funny! It’s all a joke. There is no point, other than pure entertainment. This is truly a delightful read.
So what have I discovered? To what would be Zola’s delight, reading his novel made me approach my next book looking for a “serious purpose.” Reading Crime and Punishment after a “frivolous” read (that is, Dumas’s pointless adventure novel) was intensely satisfying. Finally, picking up a light-hearted adventure after a deeply emotional book is purely delightful.
It make me think more carefully about what order I choose to read books in. After my light-hearted Dumas novel, I might need something more serious before I tackle more light-hearted Tolkein. But then again, maybe Dumas will get me in the mood for something else “adventuresome” and maybe Tolkein is not all that light-hearted once the hobbits get to Mount Doom!
Interspersed with these other reads, I’ve been dabbling in some William Blake poetry. He’s also rather serious, so I may take my time on this! Hirsch’s How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry is also rather deep, so we’ll see how my progress will go on that (I’ve only just begun).
How does reading order affect your reads? Has a book been “ruined” for you because you read it after such-and-such book? Or, has a recent read made a book better?
Note: I have been doing weekly reading journals, listing my reading progress, for more than a year now, but I plan on doing them a little differently in the future. I have a full plate of Library Loot that I need to tell you about, but I think I’ll wait for one more book to come in and do a vlog about it because I’m quite excited about my recent picks. I also have a long list of “finds” from around the blogosphere, but I’ll get to that another time.