Today I finished reading Nicholas Nickleby, which I started reading so long ago that I don’t remember exactly when I started it, but just have a vague notion that it was around the middle of the year last year, and so I must have been reading this epic tome for about eight months, give or take a few weeks.

To be fair, it was certainly not the only book I was reading in that time – there were several Book Club books scattered throughout, and attempts to re-read The Hobbit as well as re-read Sabriel (both of which are favourites from my adolescence) – not to mention interception of my time by other pursuits, most notably Farsi and piano.

But Nicholas Nickleby is finished now – all 777 pages of it – and, because it is as masterfully written as any Charles Dickens classic, I thoroughly enjoyed it (despite what the 8-month reading of it would suggest).

[If you choose to read on, be warned there are some very minor spoilers.] Continue reading


suspended in mid-air

Usually when I finish reading a book, I write a post for it, but I’ve been pretty undecided on whether or not to write a post for David Copperfield. This isn’t because I didn’t enjoy the book (I enjoyed it immensely), but because it is a classic, and I don’t think it really needs a “review”. Also, it’s such a huge book – where would I begin?   Continue reading

porcupines & donkeys

I feel like a lot of my recent posts have been rather “thought-heavy” – by which I mean that they seem to be heavy with thoughts. (That makes sense, right?) With this in mind, I’ve been meaning to post something a bit more light-hearted and whimsical to kind of balance it out.

Something else that seems a bit unusual about my blog lately, is the absence of book-related posts. The last post to be filed under the “books” category was written at the start of January! That’s two and a half months since I wrote anything significant about books! The main reason for this is, of course, that I’m still making my way through David Copperfield, which is an incredibly long novel. (I generally prefer to wait until I’ve finished an entire novel before posting anything about it.)

Having made these observations about the state of my blog, I’ve finally decided that, tonight, I’d do something to remedy it.

Charles Dickens has held the post of my most favourite author for many years. I believe the first Dickens novel I read was Oliver Twist, which my class studied in grade 10 English. Afterwards, having thoroughly enjoyed everything about his writing – the style, construction, character development, etc, etc – I proceeded to read A Tale of Two Cities, and then Great Expectations. I’ve also read The Old Curiosity Shop (although I’ll admit that this one did not have quite as great an impact, or leave quite as strong an impression upon me, as the other two).

I will acknowledge, of course, that 19th Century literature isn’t for everyone, but so many “classics” were written around this era, and the wit and profundity contained in these works is incredible (in my opinion, anyway).

But let’s not get too far into that. I want to keep this post relatively “light”, and wanted to mention the above simply as a preface to the short excerpts that I wanted to share. But, first, in my typical way, there’s still a bit of preamble to get through:

I do a lot of my reading in public places, around other people: on the bus, at train stations, at cafes/restaurants, in waiting rooms, and, very occasionally, at the cafeteria at work during my lunch breaks. Consequently, I am often in these public places when I come across particularly amusing moments contained within whatever novel I happen to be reading, and often cannot help grinning as I read through these. Far from being embarrassing, however, I find that I tend to be further amused by the very situation, and am compelled to grin all the more. Not surprisingly, this has happened many times while reading David Copperfield.

To appreciate the amusement I derived from the below quote, you don’t really need to know anything about the story, but I would like it to be known that it is spoken by Thomas Traddles, a friend of the novel’s eponymous protagonist. The two of them are on their way to meet important people (it does not matter who, but, if you must know, they are Dora’s aunts), and David kindly implores Thomas to smooth down his hair. Thomas’s response is thus:

“Nothing will induce it… You have no idea what obstinate hair mine is, Copperfield. I am quite a fretful porcupine.”

(I just think it’s funny that he called himself a porcupine.)

Another amusing character is David’s aunt, Betsey Trotwood, who displays innumerable eccentricities. One of the first of these that we are introduced to is her ongoing war against donkeys trespassing on her front lawn:

The one great outrage of her life, demanding to be constantly avenged, was the passage of a donkey over that immaculate spot.

And I could go on, but it’s getting late, and it’s just started raining, and those two things combined are clearly a sign that I should go lie in bed and listen to the rain (and, I dunno, maybe sleep as well).