I’m slightly book mad. Okay, maybe a tad more than slightly. Books make up a big chunk of my life–I read voraciously; I blog about books; I tweet about books; and I’m a committed bookstagrammer. I Facebook about books (is Facebook a verb?); I even wrote a book and I’m currently trying to write another. Given this bookish obsession, is it any wonder I take note of my books and my book-buying habits?
The last book I bought in 2016 was Don Quixote of La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes. Why? Good question. Because I have a Great Gatsby kind-of self-improvement programme going on.
Last year I read Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Excuse me while I take a bow. What a palaver it was reading that monster. I spent months wading through Tolstoy’s long-winded story. I persevered because Anna Karenina set my heart alight and I’m an optimist. I was hoping for another such wonderful reading experience. No such luck.
When my reading buddy, Beth (a Texan based in the UK who was once a tour guide of Jane Austen’s house) suggested a bunch of us tackle Don Quixote, I naively jumped on board.
Don Quixote is apparently the most popular book in history after the Bible and was published over 400 years ago. This did not stop me from being irritated by Alonso Quijano who became Don Quixote. He was the kind of man who nowadays would drive 30km under the speed limit in some bid for chivalry. Who can stay committed to such a restless dimwit? And as for fighting windmills, honestly this guy did my head in. His book collection was impressive but that was all I liked about him.
After a couple of months of lacklustre reading I pulled the plug–especially because I realised I didn’t need to read the 1,000-page book to experience the story. I found a much quicker and much more enjoyable way to experience the story of Don Quixote.
This month the West Australian Ballet performed Don Quixote in Perth’s historic His Majesty’s Theatre. What delight! How wonderful to be swept into the romance of this traditional classic.
Did I grow to love the story of Don Quixote? Certainly. Do I regret not finishing the book? Definitely not. But I am grateful I had the wonderful experience of witnessing WAB’s adaptation and pleased beyond relief that I didn’t spend months trawling through the book.
Ballet vs book? On this occasion, I joyfully choose the ballet.