Like everyone with a heart, I watch the Les Misérables trailers once or twice a week and get a little teary. This started last April or May.
Like anyone who believes books are inherently better than any movie could ever be (although it’s a tie with Gone with the Wind), I decided to read Les Mis before the movie came out in December.
I hauled that brick with me everywhere this summer. It went to the cabin, to Lake Michigan, two weddings, and more. I managed to get a solid four hundred pages read. I read the beautiful chapter about Jean valJean which is one of the most moving examples of grace in all of literature. That was the climax of the book. It’s all been downhill from there. And by downhill I mean hundred page histories of convents and endless rants against just about anything. I am no stranger to the lengthy novel, but Dickens/Eliot/Thackeray/Trollope are a little sneakier about preaching to the reader, more show less tell.
Anyways, it’s ridiculous to get 543 pages into a novel and not to finish it (although my edition is 1196 pages). I did what any reasonable person would do when faced with her own pitiable lack of discipline. I went to my sixth graders.
They are perhaps the world’s best nags. Not a day goes by without their asking about being able to eat more than one unhealthy snack a week. Or they frequently remind me at 2:43 pm that study hall begins in 2 minutes. If I ever ask them to remind me of something I can see their faces light up with delight at the task of reminding to take the lunch count every quarter of the hour for the rest of the day.
So I explained my goal, gave them how many pages I’d read, how many pages I had left to read, and asked them to tell me how many pages I’d need to read to finish by Christmas. A real-life math problem combined with the enticement of writing on the board was too much for them to resist. Eagerly, with fiendish glee in their eyes, they calculated that I would need to read 12 pages a day to finish. The practical ones upped the daily page requirement by explaining that I wouldn’t want to be finishing in the theatre.
I’m still behind in my daily reading. But at least now I am asked a few times a day how far I’ve gotten in my book. Progress?