For the past few weeks, I have been slogging my way through George Eliot’s Middlemarch. If you’re not familiar with this giant book, it is the story of a small English town in the early 1800s. The book is hard to summarize because I haven’t finished it yet, and it has a ton of plotlines, but so far it’s about politics, marriage, the roles of women, education, religion, and idealism vs. reality. Middlemarch was first published as a serial novel in 1871-1872. Most of the modern-day copies that I’ve seen are between 800 and 1000 pages. My copy was printed by a small press, so it is 651 pages of microscopic print. Seriously, after about an hour of reading, my eyes feel like they are going to bleed. And, I’m still less than halfway through this thing.
So, why am I reading it? Because I’ve been told many times that Middlemarch is the most rewarding book that I will ever slog through. So far, it’s not the best classic I’ve ever read, but it’s still pretty good. I’m actually enjoying it (except for the eyeball-bursting font).
Reading Middlemarch has made me think about other rewarding slogs. The first one that comes to mind is Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. The language is outdated, so I couldn’t read it as quickly as a modern book, but the characters and story are brilliant. Another rewarding slog is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. My copy is over 1100 pages. I don’t agree with the book’s philosophy, and the preachy characters are mildly annoying, but the story is actually quite entertaining. I didn’t feel like I wasted the months that it took to get through it.
I don’t know if anyone reads this blog, but if you’re reading, what are your rewarding slogs?