Throughout March, April, and May we’ll be reading Bleak House by Charles Dickens for our Read-a-Long. I started this book once (with another group on another site), but just couldn’t keep up — it was a very busy time in my life. By the time I could commit to it, the read-a-long was over and I really wanted to read it with other people. I remember liking what I read very much and looking for others to read it with me. I hope you’ll be persuaded to give it a go! I’m really excited for this one – it will be my first Dickens (that I actually finish, I stared A Christmas Carol and it actually scared me! – different story for another time). Please note: I would greatly appreciate you reading through “How It Works” at the bottom of the page before signing on… it’s most helpful to me to have you do so.
Some Facts About the Read-a-Long:
- You do not have to be a book blogger to join.
- We will be reading the book in March, April, & May (13 weeks), with the first discussion happening on Friday, March 2nd / the book is 817 pages (paperback, Barnes and Noble Classics edition) so that’s roughly 9 pages a day.
- Don’t be intimidated. We will be going at a slow pace and discussing the book throughout our reading. The discussions are quite fun, and make the reading process very enjoyable!
What is Bleak House about?
Often considered Charles Dickens’s masterpiece, Bleak House blends together several literary genres—detective fiction, romance, melodrama, and satire—to create an unforgettable portrait of the decay and corruption at the heart of English law and society in the Victorian era.
Opening in the swirling mists of London, the novel revolves around a court case that has dragged on for decades—the infamous Jarndyce and Jarndyce lawsuit, in which an inheritance is gradually devoured by legal costs. As Dickens takes us through the case’s history, he presents a cast of characters as idiosyncratic and memorable as any he ever created, including the beautiful Lady Dedlock, who hides a shocking secret about an illegitimate child and a long-lost love; Mr. Bucket, one of the first detectives to appear in English fiction; and the hilarious Mrs. Jellyby, whose endless philanthropy has left her utterly unconcerned about her own family.
As a question of inheritance becomes a question of murder, the novel’s heroine, Esther Summerson, struggles to discover the truth about her birth and her unknown mother’s tragic life. Can the resilience of her love transform a bleak house? And—more devastatingly—will justice prevail? (via goodreads.com)
Interesting tidbits about the author, Charles Dickens:
Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812, in Hampshire, England, and spent the first ten years of his life in Kent. When Dickens was ten, the family moved to London. His father, a naval pay clerk, was a spendthrift and eventually lost all the family’s money, sending him, his wife, and their eight children to debtors’ prison. When Dickens was twelve, his mother forced him to live apart from the family by himself for three months, at which time he worked at a blacking factory (blacking is a kind of soot used to create black pigment for such products as matches and boots) to help support the family. Along with the other children at the factory, Dickens pasted labels on bottles, an experience he hated and one that affected him deeply throughout his life. His experiences at the factory, as well as his family’s experiences with poverty and debt, spurred a passionate interest in social issues and reform… (more) (from spark notes.com)
Please let me know in the comments section of this post if you are interested! Hope you’ll join us, the more the merrier! Below is a break down of the reading schedule. Friday, February 24 will be the official starting day for reading, so if you’re joining you’ll want to grab your books by then (as our first discussion will happen the following Friday, March 2nd). Please take care to sign up with the name you are using for the rest of the read-a-long.
If you are choosing to join us after this week, you have until the second week to do so – please keep in mind that you must be caught up and able to comment about the story by the end of the week that you are joining to be added to the list.
The following is the reading and posting schedule for this read-a-long. Please note, we will be reading roughly 63 pages per week (about 9 pages a day). I have excluded the introduction (as it will be different with each edition). Because it is always easier for us to stop at chapters (rather than on page numbers, because of different editions), I’ve had to round to the nearest chapter each week. This means that some weeks are longer than others, but I’ve tried to keep it as close to 9 pages a day as possible. Please look at the week’s page amount to best plan your reading in order to keep up.
Note: I am reading from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition and my discussion posts will be based off of this version. You by no means need to read from this version, but if you are deciding which edition to read, I find these the best editions for classic works as the notations are on the same page as the reading (and they translate any foreign language throughout the book). They also have informative endnotes and introductions.
Beginning Friday, Febraury 24th and ending Friday, May 25th.
Week #/ dates :: Place in which to STOP
Week One/ February 24- March 1 :: Chapter 6
Week Two/ March 2-8 :: Chapter 10
Week Three/ March 9-15 ::Chapter 15
Week Four/ March 16-22 :: Chapter 20
Week Five/ March 23- 29 :: Chapter 24
Week Six/ March 30- April 5 :: Chapter 30
Week Seven/ April 6-12 :: Chapter 34
Week Eight/ April 13-19 :: Chapter 39
Week Nine/ April 20-26 :: Chapter 45
Week Ten/ April 27- May 3 :: Chapter 51
Week Eleven/ May 4- 10 :: Chapter 56
Week Twelve/ May 11-17 :: Chapter 61
Week Thirteen/ May 18-24 :: The End
Post #/ date post should be up on blog:
Start up Post/ Today!
Week One/ March 2nd
Week Two/ March 9th
Week Three/ March 16th
Week Four/ March 23rd
Week Five/ March 30th
Week Six/ April 6th
Week Seven/ April 13th
Week Eight/ April 20th
Week Nine/ April 27th
Week Ten/ May 4th
Week Eleven/ May 11th
Week Twelve/ May 18th
Week Thirteen/ May 25th (Final Review)
** Please don’t forget to come to this blog each Friday and share your thoughts in the comments section of the weekly Read-a-Long discussion (see below for more information).**
How it Works:
- Each week, on Friday, I will post my thoughts about the week’s reading. You will have from Friday through the following Thursday to post yours. If you are stuck on what to comment about, you can respond to my post or others’ comments. Regardless, you MUST check in each week (two weeks without a response and you will be taken off of the list — see below for details on why). You may have only one “off week” (which may not be the last week of reading for obvious reasons) and still be kept on the list, but you must let me know in the comment section by saying something like, “This is my off week — I am catching up!” Please note that your offering to the discussion must be about the current weeks’ reading, not about past weeks. ***For all week’s discussions please refrain from posting ahead, even if you have read ahead, as to not spoil the book for others***
- As these Read-a-Longs grow, so do the amount of people who participate – yay, all the more fun!!! Also, all the more keeping track of who is still reading. As you know – if you have been absent from discussion for two weeks, you will be removed from the list. However, now, in order to get back on the list, you need to a.) Have missed no more than two weeks of discussion, b.) Let me know you would like to be on the list again, and c.) Consistently be part of the discussion for the next two weeks after requesting to be put back on the list. Am I trying to be mean? Absolutely not! I LOVE having you all read a long. It is, however, a lot of work to keep track of who’s still reading, and to keep taking names off and putting them back on the list. Most importantly though, consistency is good for the group; we tend to get to know each other through discussions and rely on the conversation to keep us reading. I don’t do these read-a-longs to gain followers; I do them because the benefit of reading certain books with a group of dedicated people is often superior to reading them alone. But reading with undedicated people is worst of all, which is why I care less about numbers and more about dedication to the book and the discussions. (Bonus, at the end of the year I tally those who have done multiple read-a-longs and they get honorable mention on the Read-a-Longs page.)
- If you are a blogger you may post a link to your blog if you are posting about each of the each week’s reading. If I, or other readers, have extra time we will gladly try to visit your blog; however, you must make sure to share your thoughts here on this blog, and be part of the main conversation or your comment will not be counted.
- Comments from the previous week’s reading will be closing Thursday afternoon (before the next discussion takes place on Friday). If you would like to be part of the discussion, please remember to comment before then.