What To Do When Hardy Gets You Down

One book, a two-week holiday and very low motivation to read it.

Yes, I have been set Far From The Madding Crowd to read. This is how it makes me feel:

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and also this

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when I realise I have to spend most of my holiday

a) mentally preparing myself to read it

b) actually reading it

c) recovering from the inane and mind-numbing experience that occurs whilst reading it.

Ladies and Gentlemen; I think this website explains my dedication to the art of reading. But not all books are the light of my life and the fire of my loins: far from it. Already once this year I have battled against Hardy, in Tess D’Urberville. I was not sure who would win that particular battle, but lo I surfaced from that struggle the victor.

1 – Me, 0 – Hardy and his evil designs.

Gone! I thought. It has been read, and suffered through, and now no more 19th Century rabbling. I thought I was safe in my English Class, as we have been studying Plath and Hughes poetry for the past 7 weeks. Well, my good luck has run out, as I have been set Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd as holiday work. I must say, I was seriously considering doing a cheeky read of the summary, but then I thought no! I cannot have a book blog and behave in such a manner.

So every night I slowly made my way through it. In a week I read no more than 30 pages. Given that my copy had 328 pages  (I know this off the top of my head as I kept on having to reference it to see how much more I had left), I would not finish in time for our first class back.

I had no hope. Like a runner whose legs are burning with lactic acid, I had tried so hard to succeed and yet felt like I going nowhere and in severe pain. Until! Until I remembered the magic that is skim reading. This is what got me through in a rapid (but orderly) fashion. Now, before you moan and complain, remember that Hardy spends 90% of the time describing a blade of grass in the field, or the countryside, which really are not relevant to the plot, which is the main thing I need.. Controversial, but ultimately true. So my top tip for getting through Hardy, is this: 

Focus on reading the dialogue properly, and skim everything else.

This sounds stupid, but it works remarkably well. Of course, some descriptions are important, but then if they are and you have missed them you can always go back and read that specific section properly. If you get to speed through ten pages, and have to re-read one paragraph on the eleventh page, surely it is worth it, as opposed to having finely-comb everything?

Of course, this method will not work for many other books where things actually happen, and the writer more cleverly adopts symbolism etc. that affect later events in the novel. Also, I know that I am going to be studying this in class, so I do not need to have an amazing working knowledge of the text: I just need to understand what is going on, and then later we will together go through the themes. Lastly, do not do this if you enjoy a book! I hate Hardy, so I just wanted to get the experience over as quickly as possible so that I could get onto something I really liked.

I hope this helps all my fellow students out there who have good intentions but low motivation:

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