I mentioned in my last post how frustrated I've been feeling of late, particularly with reading. Half of me wanted to put every single book in my 'currently reading' pile back on the shelf and start again entirely, whereas the other half thought that this would be, well, a bit if a shame. So I have done both, oddly. That is to say, last night I read Carry on Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse (the 'Jeeves and Wooster' series, as I read through it, continues to be absolutely flawless, nothing wrong with them, everything right with them). It wasn't on my list (any of them) and I just needed to read Jeeves and Wooster and that was that. And then today I finished Tom Jones, also very enjoyable however I must admit the length got the better of me.
And I intend to continue with my various lists, despite admitting that some of these books have not got a hope in hell of giving me any satisfaction other than finishing them (yes, Tolstoy, I'm looking at you). And why? Because I have noble intentions. I read mainly for pleasure, and part of enjoying a book is understanding it, and sometimes part of understanding it comes from knowing where it came from and what inspired it. Part of learning this is reading books that make you want to die whilst everyone else is telling you how marvellous they are. A perfect example is Shakespeare. I had next to no fun reading through the complete works, but how nice to be able to pick out and understand references in other novels without being prompted in anyway! I think to be a better reader, one has to put up with the dull.
I don't see how it is possible for me to read everything I wanted to read in February with only a few days to go, but that's ok because some of my more abstract goals have been met. I may not have read Bleak House, for example, but I did manage to read Catch 22 and Portrait of an Artist. I don't feel bad about not meeting these goals, I think this month was so awful it's a miracle I achieved anything at all.
Anyway, this is not an end of the month / beginning of the month post, that is, of course, for the 1st March (not that I don't have my plans!). The point is simply intentions, noble ones. And I do have noble intentions. I won't lie, a few times I have glanced through my 2012 challenges and curled my lip at it: I put that list together in November / December 2011, and it is now nearly March 2012: my outlook has changed, as has my mood. But what makes me want to stick to my lists is that these books I have picked are good. They may not be interesting, and I may well hate a few of them, but they are worth reading regardless of how I feel about them. Most of them on there have had so much impact on literature, knowledge, and society in general, they feel independent of me. I don't know if that is a useful way to look at books because it suggests that one oughtn't criticise them, but in my mind, their worth has been proved, however I still am entitled to make up my own mind.
And so I keep going. I'm half-inclined to say I won't pick up a new book until my 'currently reading' pile has disappeared (apart from Les Misérables and The Bible), however Atonement keeps sort of looking at me. But definitely not tonight, for tonight I am reading (and enjoying!) The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins.