I have decided to call it quits with A Tale of Two Cities. I'm not proud of it, but it has been good for me. Someone I have great respect for said something along the lines of "If you're not enjoying it, don't read it. Life's too short to read anything you don't really enjoy." And another person I have respect for said something like, "You can always give it another go later."
I adore Charles Dickens, and I found A Tale of Two Cities funny and beautifully written and interesting, but my heart wasn't in it. I was putting off reading and so wasting my spare time with idleness. Right now, with nine pieces of assessment to complete in six weeks, I absolutely cannot use my little droplets of spare time doing something that gives me just a little taste of pleasure. I seriously need someting warm and friendly and constantly witty that will leave me with the satisfaction that by stopping my study to read, I've actually done something nice for myself! It is essential!
So I began All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot. I doubt if more than a hundred people on the face of the planet have read or even heard about this book. I gain no satisfaction of accomplishment as I would with a Charles Dickens book, a book that lets you boast about your reading life and relate to crowds of other well-read people. But I see that it completely doesn't matter.
James Herriot is just wonderful. With a tinglingily witty and oven-roastedly delicious narrative, he tells chapter by chapter the strange and hilarious tales of his everyday life as a veterinary surgeon on call for farms and house pets. Each chapter is a story all of itself. I can read for ten minutes and feel rewarded. Every chapter I laugh until my eyes water, because there is something so much heartier about these frank endearing country characters, windswept purple moors, pork rib dinners, gum boots, icy midnight emergency calls, pranks, gossips and inside-jokes in which you share a slice, than anything I've ever known. Perhaps it's a piece of heaven.
I have all intention of reading A Tale of Two Cities completely. Maybe I'll do it in a week's time. Maybe I'll do it in twenty years time. But I'm going to really really enjoy it when I do it. Life's too short.