now and then, i like to try impossible things.

There are two motives for reading a book: one, that you enjoy it, the other that you can boast about it. -- Bertrand Russell

So I have a few confessions to make. Why not? After all, it's a bleak, icy Monday afternoon. Isn't that a good time to get things off your chest?

Brace yourselves: here's the truth. In spite of my proud English major training, I still judge (and buy) books based on their covers. I do. I really, really do.

Also, I sometimes lose my head entirely when I'm in a bookstore. All logic goes out the window. I become impulsive in a whole new way.

Two summers ago, I was going through a pretty rough time. I was kind of a mess. And then I wandered through Barnes & Noble, and fell in love. At first sight.

With a 1331-page, $28.00 hardcover edition of Les Miserables. And I made sure it followed me home.

So now it's been on my bookshelf, haunting me with its glorious cover, and all those pages...

There's something about a massive book, I mean a really massive book, that whispers to me that I will, one day, have the time and intelligence and presence of mind to actually read the thing.

I like to believe that about myself. Even if it never happens.

But lately, that never happening has been getting on my nerves. I look up at my collection of large books, like Don Quixote, War and Peace, and a fair amount of Dickens. And I'd really like to believe that I'll read them all someday, but I never make that kind of time.

So last year, I put number seven onto this list. I want to read this book before September rolls around.

February 2011 is a really bad time to try and wedge a 1331-page book into my life. I mean, I have so much else on my mind. So many things happening, changing, rearranging, moving forward, falling behind... Who has the time?

But, like I said before, I'm not a mentally well-balanced kind of girl. One of the happiest semesters of my life had three major literature classes in it. I miss having hours and hours of reading. I miss getting completely lost in a book. Word drunk. Book binging. Page diving.

So this is my plan. I'm reading Les Miserables. I'm finally doing it, getting to know this book. And I'm hoping to read the whole, messy, glorious thing during the month of February. Which is a little crazy. But after all, it turns out to be just 1194 pages of text, which, if I'm doing my math right, works out to about forty-three pages a day.

Which is, um, a bit more than I've been reading lately. Okay, a lot more.

But if I don't do this, then I'll be terrified that every emotional crisis of my life will warrant another huge literary paperweight. Or that my attention span will calcify. (Have you read this article? There's a quote in there about how we can't absorb information as well as we used to... People are actually losing the ability to read books.That's enough to give me nightmares for weeks...)

So, here goes nothing. Me & Victor Hugo: we'll be spending February together. And I'll let you know how it goes.

Nothing like a good book dare, an impossible reading challenge, to take the chill out of the air.


  1. I approve.

    (And I could be remembering this wrong, but I'm pretty sure Stephanie read the whole thing in French, so you CAN'T let her win completely.)

  2. I love the phrase "word drunk". Only a reader can appreciate the wonder that is being word drunk.

    I love your list idea! I must have missed it when you posted, but since I have just had a birthday, I am going to make a list of 45 things that I will do before I turn 46 - eek!

    If you need any advice or help with starting a running program, let me know. I have been running since I was in middle school, and I have helped a lot of people who didn't run before start running programs. You have to go into it proactively, kind of like, "I am runner, hear me huff and puff!" :)

  3. I'm relishing all this encouragement! Thanks so much! :)

    And Shelley, I'm so excited for your list! Woo hoo! And happy birthday! ... I'll keep you posted about running. I'm hoping to start in a couple of weeks... exciting!!

  4. I read Les Mis while in high school. You can do it!