I just abandoned a classic book. I listened for 10 of its 19 hours, and it wasn’t growing on me. In truth, part of this was the narrator. She voiced the main character with a breathy voice I found annoying. But it’s much more than that.
Why do we expect a book written in 1847 to be captivating today? I know some folks feel that way, but I didn’t this time. The social commentary of another era can be interesting, because certainly people lived remarkably different lives then. The writing can be unique, and it influences authors who came after.
But really? Reading about a governess, orphan, and the people in her life didn’t feel relevant. It was my choice to abandon a boring book. If it had been written in 1947 or 2007, I doubt that I’d feel this guilty.
I can give myself permission to abandon a recent book no one else likes, or even one everyone else adores. No one book is for everyone, certainly not every classic. I can tell a friend that there are too many books in the world to force yourself to read Moby Dick if you hate it.
So why should I force myself to love Jane Eyre? Or if not love, then just finish and review. How hard must I try to finish, because I could perhaps switch to a print version. But when push comes to shove, I’m not a “coming-of-age story” reader. I’m long past that in my life, and it doesn’t hold much appeal. Give a complex, adult dilemma-ridden novel and I’m all in.
So that’s one point. The other is Mr. Rochester. He’s an ass, and is nearly old enough to be Jane’s father. Also, he treats her poorly and is quite intent on his chauvinistic mindset. He’s a product of his time, to be sure. But I don’t have patience for it, especially in light of the #metoo movement and our growing awareness of sexual and emotional abuse.
The good things about Jane are her strength and persistence in life. They’re admirable, to be sure. Guess what? I’m going to find another book about a crazy-strong woman, who lives in a world I can better relate to. Those books are everywhere. I’d particularly like to find one that’s intersectional because, again, that feels more relevant to my century.
A classic book likely has good lessons to tell. And I’m feeling better already about ditching this one. I learned more from the process of writing this blog post than from reading the book. And I’m okay with that. Go me!