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It All Started When...

We were having dinner with a few friends, one of whom was trained as a librarian.  She mentioned that her favorite book was The Count of Monte Christo.  I knew the basic story -- dude, betrayed, falsely imprisoned, escapes years later, seeks revenge -- but somehow missed the class in high school where everybody else read it.

I was in need of a book (and have always felt bad that there are these ubiquitous classics I've never read -- especially since I was an English major), so I ordered a copy.  

When it arrived and I saw it was a 1200-page doorstop of a novel, I was glad I hadn't looked at a copy in a bookstore because I might never have bought it.  Not only was the size in and of itself intimidating, but in the time it was going to take to read it, I could get through two or three other books in my queue.

But since I already owned it and the basic revenge plot appealed to me (as well as the promise of political intrigue), I gave it a go.  

And I loved it.  I mean, loved it.  Devoured it.  Relished it.  Will read it again.  Didn't want it to end.

Money quote, as they say in the blogging world:

Moral wounds have the peculiarity that they are invisible, but do not close: always painful, always ready to bleed when touched, they remain tender and open in the heart.

It occurred to me that a number of my favorite books have been classics, and that perhaps they are classics for a reason: not just because they are "important" or "influential," but also because they are great reads.

Like The Lord of the Flies and Farenheit 451 and A Farewell to Arms.  1984.  Treasure Island.  Great stuff.

And yet there are stacks and stacks that I haven't had the pleasure of encountering yet.  I've never read any Jane Austen, though I've seen most of the movies.  :-)  I've never read any Charles Dickens.  I've never read Moby Dick.

Hence, my Classic Reads project for 2011, where I will (attempt) to read nothing but classic novels all year.  Books from the canon.  Books I'm ashamed to admit I've never read.  I'm a little nervous, but I think it's going to be great fun.

Next post, I'll list the classics I have read, the ones I couldn't make it through, and my prospective list.  Then I'll expect some help and advice from all of you -- see if we can get a discussion going -- so do check back.

Till then, good reading.