Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Don Quixote Done!

I finally finished Don Quixote! It is the first book listed in The Well Educated Mind for the fact it is considered the first novel ever written. It was written in 1605 yet I was amazed at how common mankind's struggles are even after 400 years!

It felt like a huge accomplishment for me to finish all nine hundred and some odd pages because Quixote's insanity truly began to numb my brain after about the first four hundred! I keep a reading journal and summarized each.and.every.single chapter in the entire book. I was rewarded for this by the fact that I could orally summarize pretty much the entire book including all the major characters when I was done. The fact that there are over 600 characters in the novel makes this a triumph in itself! And still a month after finishing it I can still remember the majority of those details. I have always been a very fast reader but a week after finishing a book I can typically not recall anything but major themes and maybe a main character or two. A month after reading pretty much all the details are lost. After a year I can read the dust jacket and think, "Now did I ever read this book or not?" Sad but true.

Susan Wise-Bauer says in The Well Educated Mind, " Some books speak to us at one time of life and are silent at another. If a book remains voiceless to you, put it down and read the next book on the list." Even though I struggled with it, I persevered to the end of Quixote because I needed to prove to myself that I could do it. Actually I knew I could do it I just needed to know I would do it!

Francis Bacon says, "Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." I would say I took the middle road with this book. At the end I was so relieved to just be done, but after working through some of the elements of literary analysis that SWB lists in TWEM I found myself appreciating the book more and more. I still doubt that Don Quixote will rank as one of my top ten favorite books (actually I doubt it will make the top 50 when all is said and done ;) but it was a good start on my journey of self-education.


momtime said...

WoW! You go girl! I'm so proud of you! What a wonderful accomplishment! Sorry it took you 900+ pages and it won't even make the top 50 list!

I can relate to reading a book and not being able to to retain anything from the book a week later! What made the difference? Was it the journaling or do you always do that?

So very happy for you, that you set a goal and accomplished it! Way to go on starting to educate yourself! That is something I've not thought of for myself, but you've definitely got me thinking about it now!

Congratulations on the read/accomplishment!!

~Angela (mommylawyer) said...

My husband read it about a year ago and STILL talks about it ... It's one of his favorites. Congrats on reading. I hope go do the same - one day!

Jennefer said...


Yes! I totally think that journaling made all the difference in the world. I read more slowly knowing that I would need to summarize what I was reading. Then when I did forget I went back and re-read sections in order to be able to correctly sum it all up.

And I should've added in the post that I gained a much great appreciation for the novel after doing the lit analysis on it. I began to see themes I hadn't seen before and recognized some underlying currents that I didn't see upon my first reading! Still don't know that it will make the top 50 but I don't regret a moment I spent reading it either. :)

Thank you for the encouragement.

Jennefer said...

That should be a "greater" appreciation...


judahmo said...

Nice job! I, too, was inspired by TWEM to start with Don Quixote. Unfortunately, I have not finished it. I like the idea of the reading journal and summarizing the chapters. Is that something SWB recommends in the book? (Can you tell it has been a while since I started it?)