Saturday, March 12, 2011

Books I've "Read" Recently

I've been cleaning toilets for the past five months. It's a bit of an ego buster to graduate from college with honors and then to find you are no more employable than high school drop-outs. But I realized early on in my janitoring career that I needed to do something to make myself feel like I wasn't totally wasting my time/life. So I read. Obviously I couldn't carry a book around with me and read while dusting, but I got myself an iPod and began downloading books from Librivox. Now that I have only a week more of this job ahead of me, I thought I'd share all the classics I've been able to listen to. These are in no particular order, and there's a good chance I'm omitting a few.

Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Loved it. I had never read this before, surprisingly... nor had I read any other Mark Twain novels. In my defense, we were assigned almost no books to read in high school, and everyone in college assumed we'd already read him. Being a janitor for five months was worth it for this book alone.

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain
Mark Twain was one of the only authors I doubled up on. I was working on getting a wide range of reading in. Anyway, this book surprised me. I think I was expecting something more similar in tone to the Disney movie loosely based on this book. It was hilarious in the beginning, and while it was funny the whole way through it got very political and very dark towards the middle and end. Still a great read, of course.

Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
How can you not like this book? It was a fun, quick way to spend a shift.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Dark and awesome. I was quite disappointed by the movie version which I ran into on Netflix a few months after I listened to the book.

The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas
Loved this one as well. This one was published in serial form, so each chapter was exciting and included some sort of climax to keep the reader interested for next time. Also, it has one of the best female villains I have ever read.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I went into this one not knowing what to expect. I know Austen is a brilliant author, but I'd never read her and wasn't really sure she was my type. I'm not going to begin an Austen obsession after this book, but it was still good... good enough that I very may well read another of her books eventually.

My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
I tried to stick mostly to "you'll find them in SparkNotes classic books," but in this instance I strayed away from that. Vic Bobb was right. Hilarious. It was a good way to spend a week.

Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
I blame my inability to understand written descriptions of battles, but this book bored me.

Andersen's Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen
Meh, okay. It didn't really make me hunger for more fairy tales, though.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
So good! I almost cried at the end... the only thing that stopped me was that people would have been very confused as to why the janitor was bawling at work.

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
Also great. I wish they'd spent a little more time actually talking about the awesome rescues that the Scarlet Pimpernel made, but it was an awesome romance novel that I didn't have to feel like a lamewad for liking. I'm a little in love with Sir Percy, I'll be honest.

The Princess and the Goblin by George Macdonald
Regardless of the fact that this is a children's book, it was totally awesome. It totally captured my imagination and is very highly ranked on my "what I will read my children" list.

The Princess and Curdie by George Macdonald
The sequel to the above book. While it's not quite as good as the original, it was still well worth reading.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
There's not much better than a cocaine-using genius detective!

Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
I'd heard that people were angry enough at Hardy after writing this book that he gave up novels for good after. I always wondered what could be so terrible. I totally understand after reading the book. I loved it, but sometimes I think Hardy is some sort of creepy masochist who only escaped being a serial killer by taking out his sick urges on characters instead of real life. I went to work the day I was going to start this book feeling down about the fact that I was intelligent and capable but just couldn't get my foot in the door anywhere. And then for six hours I listen to the story of Jude who only wants to be in academia but can't because he doesn't have the right family background so he spends years working as a laborer. Talk about depressing. Of course, that was nothing compared to the rest of the book, but you'll have to read it yourself to find out more.

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Weird, but pretty good. Carroll does a great job capturing the essence of a dream.

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Do you know how many hours this book is? It's sixty. I've been listening to this book for five weeks, and I just finished it on Thursday. Despite the ridiculously long digressions on Waterloo and convents, I really enjoyed it. I never would have read this book otherwise, and it was a great life decision.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
This brings us to the last book. I just started this book on Friday and will finish it next week. It's quite good so far. I feel bad for poor Jane and feel quite similar to her in a lot of ways.

So that's how I made the best of my time as a janitor. Even though I am super stoked to be done with that, I will miss the steady stream of classic literature.


  1. OK, best description of Sherlock Holmes ever.
    Three Musketeers is one my favorites.
    This list has inspired me to read some books that I haven't gotten to yet.
    I miss you.

  2. No fair. Bailey said everything I was going to say. Therefore I will say that you rock for "reading" all of these, and thanks for the tip (I knew I could listen to Librivox, but never realized I could download them into itunes!)