Sunday, August 25, 2013

What is your favorite book?

My very first job that I had as a kid was at my local library.  I loved looking at all the different books that were out there and wondered what stories their pages held. I have always enjoyed reading and I hope that I always will.  Books have the power to, if the author is good enough, transport the reader to new worlds, introduce fantastic ideas and teach great and vastly important lessons.  In short, reading is a MUST in my life! 

I thought that I would start off this section of the blog with, of course, my favorite book.  Now I read all sorts of books, from the classics, to fantasy, mystery, non-fiction/biographies, cook books, young adult fiction, etc; but there is one book that has thus far, remained my absolute favorite book.  That book would be.........

...."The Count of Monte Cristo". 

Now I am not going to lie, it is not an easy book  If you are not a huge fan of reading just don't even approach this book. Just go watch the film and move on with your life.  But, if you are up for a very rewarding challenge, dive in my friend. 

My story with The Count started three years back.  I had watched the movie and really enjoyed it.  It was a very compelling story with sword fighting, a super cool abbe (priest), revenge, and even a hot air balloon.  Well it was at Christmas time my sister-in-law rented the abridged version of  The Count from her local library.  One night I saw that the book had been left out on the table.  I remembered that I enjoyed the film, so I picked it up and began to read.  

The first thing I read was the following translator's note (page 9, for those who are copyright sensitive, and yes I have copied this word for word.  This quote belongs to the original owners and is in no way my own wording.) : 

" The prevailing taste for brevity has made the spacious days of the stately three-volume novel seem very remote indeed. A distinct prejudice against length now exists: a feeling that there is a necessary antithesis between quantity and quality.  One of the results is that those delightfully interminable romances which beguiled the nights and days of our ancestors in so pleasant a fashion are now given no more than a passing nod of recognition.  Unfortunate as this is, one has to admit it with as much philosophy as may be available for the purpose. Life then had broader margins, and both opportunity and inclination are now lacking for such extensive indulgence in the printed page."

He continued his little rant with this "This, then, is felt to be sufficient apology for the present abridgment of one of the world's masterpieces.  It has been the object of the editor to provide the modern reader with a good translation and a moderately condensed version of Dumas' narrative.  This, while omitting, of necessity, some of the beauties of the original, has conserved the essentials of the story and condensed the incidents within what will be, from our point of view, more reasonable proportions.  So the reader will miss no material part of that entertainment which the author, after his more leisurely fashion, intended him to enjoy."

Well then!!!  Challenge accepted! 

Basically, what I understood from that lovely little letter was "I do apologize for what I have had to do to this book because you are not intelligent enough to handle the entire work."   Ooooooh that got under my skin.  I was not about to have some translator mocking my reading abilities.  No way.  

And that is how it all started.  

As I continued to read I discovered that the book was vastly different from the movie.  Heck one character in the movie was a representation of at least three in the book!  But I will be honest with you, the book is so much better.  Yes it is over 1,200 pages, but it is worth it.  Dumas is a fantastic writer.  He thinks about his story from every angle and doesn't overload your senses with non essential information.  Everything ties to the story in a pertinent way.  The best part about this book though, is the lessons learned by the main character in the end.  And no its not get rich, get revenge and be happy. Oh goodness I would explain it to you but..........well as Mrs. River Song says "Spoilers" :)

I would suggest you read up on your Napoleonic history if you want to have a better grasp of what is going on in the time period, but it is not necessary.  

So, do tell me, what is your favorite book?  Leave the title and author in the comment section and I may read it for my next book.  

As always, thanks for listening.  


  1. I really love To Kill a Mockingbird. You've probably read it already, but I think it's a beautiful story that captures the essence (and complexity) of Southern culture. The Count of Monte Cristo is definitely a great book! I have to agree - way better than the movie.

  2. I do really like To Kill an Mocking Bird. I read it in High School, but it would definitely be worth a re-read! Thanks for reminding me about it.