Friday, May 6, 2011

Book 83: Finished/Reflections on Reading.

I'm always amused by my feelings towards certain titles. When I was first discovering reading, I had very strict feelings about the types of books I read. Obviously as a young girl, I read a lot of classic children's literature, like The Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I also read The Babysitter's Club, The Boxcar Children, and random titles from other big names.

Moving into middle school, I began to discover other things that captured my interest. I don't ever remember the young adult section being as big or as diverse as it is now, so I had a hard time finding interesting things for my age group. That is when I began to branch out (one of my friend's and I loved to read Mary Higgins Clark and would share our books). It was only after some great English teachers that I began to venture into the classics, and I did so with great trepidation.

When our English teachers passed out lists of classic titles, I always searched for titles similar to what I already enjoyed-I read a lot of H.G. Wells, Orwell, etc. It was only after some gentle nudging that I started to read and enjoy other classic pieces.

But during all the time, I never had any interest in reading anything by any of the Brontes. I equated Brontes with stuck-up, old school literature that I had no interest in. And while I loved Homer, Austen, Eliot, Fitzgerald, Woolf, and Faulkner, I just skipped right over the Brontes and moved on.

I don't know why I held that prejudice for so long. When I finally read Wuthering Heights last year, I loved it. And then I loved Villette, but there was something inside of me that stayed far away from this title. Something about Jane Eyre spooked me.

At first, I was worried it wouldn't be any good. But after reading Charlotte's other title, I knew that the writing would be excellent. Then I was worried that I would be the one person who wouldn't like it. I would find some fatal flaw that would ruin it.

I was also worried that I would be too dumb to understand the story. I wouldn't enjoy it because I wouldn't get it.

All silly thoughts.

It also became a game as I resisted. There were many tweets going on about the fact that I needed to just dive in and read the novel. I resisted out of fun, but mainly fear.

Now I realize that was silly.

There is nothing to fear about reading a book, and especially a classic. What I have learned throughout this entire process is that classics are far more accessible than we realize. The story of Jane Eyre IS timeless and something we can all cherish and love. Who doesn't want a gruff Mr. Rochester to love? (I tried to call Matt Rochester. He didn't like it).

The story is beautiful and captured me from the beginning. And when Jane left Thornfield, I found myself freaking out. Would she return? Would Rochester take her back? Will the crazy lady die so they can be happy? I was invested and hooked. I flipped through those last 150-200 pages quickly, sucking in the story as fast as I could. By the end, I held the book closed in my lap and just sighed.

I love the adventure that literature takes us on. I love that it takes our emotions and scrambles them up so we can see all sides to an issue. I love that it can make us change our minds about the way we approach reading and what we truly enjoy. But most of all, I love that no matter how much I read, I am constantly moved in new and deeper ways. I am in love with literature, and my experience of reading Jane Eyre perfectly explains why.

I like to look back at the beginning of this journey here and see myself as a 5 year-old clutching her Laura Ingalls Wilder novels. I was curious, but cautious. I started out slowly and approached each new novel with fear and excitement.

Now, I still approach them with fear and excitement, but I also feel hopeful, that the book I am reaching for will take me on that same journey.

So thank you to those pesky few who continually nagged me to pick up Jane Eyre. I can honestly say that it is now a favorite and I cannot wait to read it over and over again.

Favorite Lines:

"I can live alone, if self-respect, and circumstances require me so to do. I need not sell my soul to buy bliss. I have an inward treasure born with me, which can keep me alive if all extraneous delights should be withheld, or offered only at a price I cannot afford to give."

"I have little left in myself -- I must have you. The world may laugh -- may call me absurd, selfish -- but it does not signify. My very soul demands you: it will be satisfied, or it will take deadly vengeance on its frame."

"Good-night, my-" He stopped, bit his lip, and abruptly left me."

"I have now been married ten years. I know what it is to live entirely for and with what I love best on earth. I hold myself supremely blest - blest beyond what language can express; because I am my husband's life as fully as he is mine. No woman was ever nearer to her mate than I am: ever more absolutely bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. I know no weariness of my Edward's society: he knows none of mine, any more than we each do the pulsation of the heart that beats in our separate bosoms; consequently, we are ever together. To be together is for us to be at once free as in solitude, as gay as in company. We talk, I believe, all day long: to talk to each other is but more animated and an audible thinking. All my confidence is bestowed on him, all his confidence is devoted to me; we are precisely suited in character - perfect concord is the result."


  1. I am so glad you loved Jane Eyre! I read it when I was 15... two times... and fell in love with it! It is one of my favorites too!
    And this post is one of my favorite posts ever!

  2. So glad you loved it. I think it's time for a re-read soon.

  3. Our expectations can be dangerously deceiving - I had a fearful view of this title because I assumed it would be another book like Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice' which I strongly disliked. However, it turns out that even men can enjoy wonderful works like Jane Eyre... and Wuthering Heights.

    My review here:

  4. I am so, so glad that all that pesky nagging was worth it in the end, especially as I was doing a lot of it. :D I was like you. I avoided the Brontes even though I'd loved classics for years, and avoided Ms. Austen as well. I finally read both Austen (Persuasion) and Emily Bronte in 2007, then Charlotte and Anne in 2008. All those years I was missing out (except for Emily, who I strongly disliked...). It made me realize I ought not to avoid these classics because of preconcieved misconceptions, too.

  5. I also worry sometimes that I will be too dense to understand a story, especially with the classics. Thankfully, usually that's just me underestimating myself.

    Your review is great. I also loved this book. As an aside, I have the cover of Jane Eyre that you've featured above, and I absolutely adore it. Great post!

  6. Yay! I am so glad you fell in love with it as I did so long ago. I still pick it up and read my favorite parts from time to time.

  7. Oh, I can't even imagine Jane Eyre being difficult! But I feared it too! Reading it ENTIRELY changed my opinion about classics. I can't believe I used to think Charlotte Bronte would be dry or stuck up. She's like a contemporary to me now, I adore her.

    (I chuckle at your image of "clutching" your Little House books as a little girl. I read those... last year.)


    So glad you loved this!! I KNEW you would. :D

  8. I am so glad you finally read this and that you enjoyed it! It's such a wonderful story.

  9. I love this post! I've recently read Jane Eyre myself after years of 'just not getting around to it' (and even have the same Reuben Toledo edition you have - so pretty) and absolutely adored it. I can't believe it took me so long to read it, and like you I couldn't wait to find out what would happen. I freaked out in so many parts. I had my heart in my throat as their 'wedding' approached, as Jane was pressured by her cousin, and was so moved by so many other moments. I too love Rochester, he's my new literary crush. It makes me want to read other classics pronto!

  10. I loved this book- your post made me want to reread it so badly!! I will definitely be pulling it out this summer.

  11. I'm so glad you liked this book. I also recently discovered it and now it's one of my favourites.

  12. Yay for recent Jane Eyre lovers!

  13. It's interesting the way our perceptions can really hinder our reading. I generally try to convince myself that I'm not afraid of or intimidated by any book, but the truth is there ARE books that I'm intimidated by--even if I think I could read them, I'm afraid of the work I might have to put into it to make it work. I read Jane Eyre so long ago that I can't imagine being afraid of it but it probably helps that it was located in the YA section of the library!

  14. I thought I posted on here already? Anyway, I'm glad you ultimately enjoyed it. I'm so excited to try the other Bronte books -- since you enjoyed them too! (Although I'm not a fan of WH...)