As promised, I’m kicking off this year with something that will get me back into two good habits: nightly reading, and semi-regular blogging: Over the course of the first few months of this year, I’ll be reading — and inviting others to read along with me — George Eliot’s Middlemarch.
The inspiration: Every year, I set myself a reading goal. Last year, I hit upon the bright idea of reading 25 books: Two books a month, plus one Big Read that I’d slowly make my way through over the course of the year. Last year, the Big Read was Don Quixote. How do you get through a 1000-page novel? The same way that you write a 1000-page novel: one chapter at a time. So every night, I read one of the book’s eight- to twelve-page chapters, and by the middle of the year, I was done. Don Quixote, by the way, is totally worth the effort, and I highly recommend it.
Anyway, I got so much out of this that I decided to try it again, but rather than picking a book at random, I asked friends what they’d recommend for a project like this. There was plenty of Dickens, several recommendations for Kristin Lavransdatter, and one joker even suggested Proust. But in the end, Middlemarch was the clear winner. It was also the most polarizing: while numerous people lauded it to the skies, a small but respectable handful told me that they just couldn’t stand it. And while those negative votes at first pushed me away, in the end they were the reason that I decided that this was a book I needed to read for myself.
So, here’s the plan: starting this week, anyone who wants to reads a chapter a night, six chapters a week. We meet on Mondays to talk about what we’ve read. No spoilers if you’ve read it already!
Finally: if you’re someone who knows something about English lit and wants to talk in the comments here about the context of the novel or its author, have at it in the comments to this post! And watch this space for other random medium-form musings in the year to come.
 Obviously, this doesn't include books I'm just skimming or dipping into for work. If you're curious, the other book I'm reading right now is N.K. Jemisin's The Stone Sky; after that, I'll be rotating in some nonfiction with Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Post-Facts, and Fake News.