Well this is probably going to be another short but sweet post I imagine because seriously, who tells people they’ve read something when they haven’t?! (Apologies if you actually HAVE done that) I could understand someone doing it at a young age I guess if they wanted to look cool or intellectual, but I don’t see why anyone would feel the need to do that. There is nothing wrong with saying you haven’t read a book, no matter how popular or critically acclaimed it is. There are so many wonderful novels in the world and it is impossible to read all of them! So instead I am going for ‘a book you tell people you’ve read but haven’t actually finished’ because I do have two books that fit this criteria.
As I have mentioned before I don’t often abandon books, so these were the exceptions to the rule rather than the norm. The two that I am going to be talking about were books I was made to read at school, figures!
First up is Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. Ohh boy how I HATED this book with a passion. I had encountered the film several times in the past and at least twice I had been forced to watch it in primary school. I hated Oliver and his silly decisions, I hated Fagin and Dodger’s love for stealing and their mistreatment of others.
“Stealing is morally wrong!” Cried my young self, ‘”how can these people steal from someone?!”
Ohh to be so young and naive…
I found Nancy equally insufferable – ok, to cut a story short, I just hated everybody and everything about Oliver Twist.
When I encountered it again as the book version in secondary school English I wanted to punch someone. Why was this story following me around?! It’s safe to say while I understood the themes at an older age I still hated it, especially Dickens painfully drawn out writing style. I remember myself internally screaming, wondering why he had to describe the streets of London over five pages instead of in one paragraph. I never got the chance to read Oliver Twist in full, which at the time I was grateful of. For some reason at my school we would study a text but leave some chapters out that weren’t that key or relevant to the essay question we were being set. Consequently there are various gaps in my Oliver Twist experience and the school left the ending out altogether. As I had already seen the film I knew what happened, but I do find it bizarre that the curriculum did that, it seems weird and wrong to only give students half the picture of a novel. What are they trying to do? Teach us not to finish what we started?
Oliver Twist put me off Dickens for what I was sure would be a lifetime. I swore I would never go near him again; he had blotted his copybook as the saying goes. Then, last year the world was celebrating the 200th anniversary of his birth and the world went Dickens crazy here in England (he is after all, one of our rare claims to fame). Suddenly all these documentaries, TV movies like The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Great Expectations, (A film adaptation of Great Expectations too!) and reruns of various old other Dickens adaptations were everywhere. It was hard to escape and eventually I came round to the idea of giving his books another go. If ALL these people thought he was truly amazing, surely I was missing something? I bought sixteen of his books with the beautiful Vintage covers and red spines for an amazing deal that made them less than £1 each, bargain! 😀 This summer I read Great Expectations and adored it, which makes me wonder what I would think of Oliver Twist now, would I still despise it? Only one way to find out I guess. 😛
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The second book or technically play I guess that I tell people I have read but haven’t actually finished is Romeo and Juliet. Again we studied the text up to about two thirds of the way through, enough so that we could answer and essay question and then they didn’t bother to finish it off. Instead they showed us the film with Leonardo DiCaprio. (No complaints there, am I right ladies?) Again this was a story that if I could have gone back in time and prevented the author from writing it, I would have. Granted that might affect the entire course and progress of literature but hey-ho, I’m willing to take the risk! I found Shakespeare painful at the best of the times, (stupid iambic pentameter) but a story about two teenagers falling in ‘love’ after five seconds, acting like complete idiots and being self destructive simply because they couldn’t control their own hormones? Ugh. At the time it seemed to me like the most degrading, insulting and ridiculous teenage depiction I had ever come across and it really angered me. I mean, now I’m older I understand that the stupidity is kind of the point of it. The discussion of whether it was true love or infatuation etc. etc. and all that fun stuff, but it still annoys me too much for me to care, if I’m brutally honest. I know Shakespeare was important in so many ways but I just don’t like the guys work, I’m sorry.
In the case of both of these books I do consider them ‘read’ and that’s why I call them so. I trudged through enough of their pages to get the full essence of the story, and even though I didn’t get to read the end of them I know how they conclude. Oliver Twist I will return to eventually, but Shakespeare? I have my doubts…
Ok, this post didn’t turn out so short and sweet did it? :S Oh well, I am just incapable of not rambling!
Have you ever told someone you had read a book when you hadn’t? If so why? Do you consider unfinished books read? What are your experiences with Shakespeare and Dickens? 🙂
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Header Image: My own, please do not reuse.
Dickens Books: My own, please do not reuse.
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