In general, I don’t like to begin the new year with a whole bunch of reading plans. I am usually able to focus my energy on one or two projects at a time, and not much more. To that end, I’ve chosen to participate in only one reading challenge in 2018: a year-long, chapter-a-day readalong of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables.
The Les Miserables Readalong is the brain-child of Nick at One Catholic Life. He noticed, while reading David Bellos’s The Novel of the Century: The Extraordinary Adventure of Les Miserables, that there are exactly 365 chapters in the famous book — one for each day of the year. He decided to read the book in just this way; to build a daily routine that included time spent reading the book, savoring each chapter slowly, and intentionally stretching the experience over a full calendar year. He explains his reasoning much more eloquently below:
“Imagine getting up early each morning and as part of your daily routine opening up one of the truly great books of the world and spending a little time with unforgettable characters like Jean Valjean, the Bishop of Digne, Fantine, Javert, and little Gavroche. Or imagine settling in each evening before going to sleep, losing yourself in the world of 19th century France: galley slaves, the sewers of Paris, the battle of Waterloo, the barricades. And finally, imagine waking up on December 31, 2018, knowing that you are about to finish the last chapter of one of the longest and most profound books ever written. This is the extraordinary adventure of the Les Misérables Read-along.”
I was drawn to this challenge for a couple of reasons: firstly, because Les Mis is a book I’d like to read but can’t quite stomach the size of, and secondly, because the idea of spending an entire year absorbing a book sounds immensely appealing right now. It forces me, firstly, to address my daily routine with more intention. It also falls right into line with efforts I’ve been making to read (and live) more mindfully.
Part of the challenge, for me, will be carving out a regular space in my daily routine. Another challenge will be keeping the pace: neither falling behind nor moving ahead, but savoring the story one chapter at a time. I’m actually excited to read with this much intention — it’s not something I do much of anymore.
This challenge will run from January 1 — December 31, 2018. If you’re interested in joining, you can download Nick’s daily schedule here!