I love to read (I've already read 8 books in 2008), but often times I gravitate toward mindless fiction. I generally stick to Christian fiction so I don't usually end up reading trash, but it isn't great literature by any stretch of the imagination. Then the things I pick up at the library - I've ended up with some real doosies. One of my dreams (probably after all my kids are no longer homeschooled - and since I'm clearly not even done having kids yet, this could be a while!) is to go back to school and get my masters, or even my PhD in some literary field. While I did really well in school, graduating summa cum laude with my BA in English, I know I have some real gaps in my knowledge. One of those major gaps, because of my tendency to read drivel, is that there are many, many classics I have not read. I did some research at various university web sites and found lists of both American and British literature that are recommended reading before entering a master's program. I decided that rather than check out mindless book after mindless book from the library, I would read through these lists. It's not that I don't think drivel has its place. Children's literature is full of it, and even though it doesn't teach the children much, it is very valuable for building vocabulary. For adults, it is a great way to relax. But I think I will require myself to finish a book of literary value before indulging in each mindless book this year.
For my first pick, just going down the list, I ended up with The Awakening by Kate Chopin. This actually cracks me up because this very happy to be a stay at home, homeschooling mom with extremely conservative views when it comes to marriage and family ended up starting her journey with one of the most controversial pieces of feminist literature of its time! Even though I completely disagreed with the book and its premise, I enjoyed reading it because it is very well written. It made me sad that this woman felt trapped in a loving marriage with loving children and saw desperate measures as her only way out. I am blessed to know that even on days I don't feel like it, my husband and my children are blessings. I don't know if you really want me to type many of my impressions of the book because a) I could be the only one alive interested in my impressions of this book, and b) if you ever wanted to read it, I would ruin the plot for you!
Even though I enjoyed The Awakening from a literary critique viewpoint, I am thankful to have just started Jane Austen's Mansfield Park. This is one of Austen's books that I have never read and it is a wonderful contrast to the book I just finished!