The More I Read, The More They Pull Me In

imagesThere are just way too many books out there that are flashing big bright “Read Me!” signs. I have dedicated myself to going back for those classics and well-received contemporary books that have escaped my reading lists (or disappeared under a covering of dust and forgetfulness). But then I hear about a new and exciting title and my urgency juices start to flow causing Henry James and Émile Zola to slide back behind Clarissa and The Good Soldier Svejk.

Is there a computer algorithm available which calculates the value of literature against the estimated time remaining and generates the optimal prioritized reading list?

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Epistolary Novel

I recently read The Color Purple by Alice Walker. If you haven’t read it and never saw the movie, then it’s a good, if not too deep, representation of the life of African-Americans in the South (and Africa) before WWII. The book really doesn’t add much to the movie and since the Spielberg film is colorful and evocative, it may be the better choice (I know, take away my library card and send me over to the Math Department in disgrace). However, if you are interested more in the form of the novel than in the plot and characters, stick with the book.

The Color Purple is an example of an Epistolary Novel:  a novel which is presented in the form of an exchange of letters. Some of the earliest novels were originally written as a series of letters, notably Pamela and Clarissa by Samuel Richardson. Although the long and detailed letters strike us today as being very artificial, we have to remember that there was no television or home movies back in the eighteenth century so letter writing was a practically an Olympic event. Postal Service back then was also very different so sending and receiving several letters a day was not unreasonable, presuming you had a speedy footman on call.

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