Why I’m putting Les Misérables to one side…again

My parents gave me my copy of Les Misérables. It was going to be the book that I read to pass the time in between beginning Maternity Leave and having the baby. Well, Maternity Leave began in April 2019, and my daughter was born at the end of May 2019 and yet I didn’t pick up Les Mis once. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I picked it up now and again to admire the cover (my edition is a beautiful Penguin Clothbound Classics), or to flick through the pages both in awe and fear of the length (particularly with how small the font was!) but alas, I didn’t actually start reading it. Why? I’m not entirely sure, it could have been for many reasons, perhaps the length intimidated me, maybe I was too busy nesting/getting things ready for the baby, maybe I was reading other things. In reality it was probably a mixture of all of them. Either way the book remained on my bookshelf unread.

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Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

Now, fast forward to January of this year (2020) when I put together my books I plan on reading this year list, and of course it made the cut. I’ve wanted to read it for ages, and I thought if I put it on this list then I definitely would get to it because I would have that accountability. I wouldn’t want to finish up 2020 without reading all the books on the list because I’m a stickler for completing something that I set my mind to. It still seemed pretty intimidating though so of course I picked other books up first, and whilst I was making progress on the list overall, this huge title was still sitting there waiting for me. It wasn’t until halfway through the year (despite lockdown and being furloughed) that I actually picked it up and started reading it. Now, I can’t deny that the little I have read is brilliant, and I can certainly understand and appreciate why this book is and has been so popular. I decided that I would read it alongside other books so that I didn’t feel overwhelmed or bogged down by it, I’d just read a few chapters here and there, and initially that worked well. However, before long it seemed like a chore, it was there lurking in the background, and I was feeling obliged to pick it up in order to complete it simply because it was a reading goal for this year. I realised that I wasn’t picking it up because I wanted to anymore, if I ever had in the first place, irrelevant of the fact that I was enjoying it. Does that make sense?

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Anyway, after thinking about it I realised that this title is definitely one of those bucket list, I want to read it before I die books, and I want to actually enjoy it. I can tell from what I have read that I will really like it, and therefore I want to read it at the right time, and not because I feel as though I should. That sense of obligation takes the fun out of reading. Ultimately for me reading is for pleasure, and I don’t want to lose that. So, as a result I’m putting it to one side again, rather than pile on the pressure I’m going to wait for the right time so I can have the experience that I really believe it will give me. Whilst I wait for that time I will allow it to serve its original purpose once more as a beautiful book that I can admire. That’s more than enough for me for now.

Photo by Pixabay on

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Have you had to make the choice to put a book to one side because the timing was wrong? If so, what was it and why? As always I would love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks for reading, I hope that you enjoyed!

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Until the next time…Jess x

25 thoughts on “Why I’m putting Les Misérables to one side…again

  1. The musical is a MUST! You might like to watch the 1978 movie and also if you are in the US, subscribe to PBS and you can watch the series of Les Miserables made in 2019. But to see the musical on stage is a must! It is my favorite musical of all time. The book is difficult. I got stuck at the battle of Waterloo.

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  2. Not exactly. Les Mis didn’t intimidate me- I actually used my former knowledge of the musical to help me understand what is going on. I love my Les Mis cover as well- with its leather cover with words on there that refer to both the book and musical.

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  3. Great post! 😊 I have set books aside many times. Often it will be with the more heavy or literary ones in favour of something more accessible/ relatable or in line with how I am feeling at that time. As you say, it could be a timing thing. I read The Testaments in two sittings with a huge break in between and enjoyed it after the break. Reading the right book at the right time is where the joy is, definitely!

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    1. Thanks Laura 😁 yes, agreed, I picked up something light straight after making the decision to put Les Mis to one side. I’m hoping it is just a timing thing because what I did read was great and I do think I’m missing out on a read that I’ll really get a lot out of. I’m glad to hear I’m not alone with this 😊

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  4. No access to the library – closed again, I’m rediscovering books we’ve inherited from grandparents./ great grandparents. At school, I found George Eliot overwhelming, skimmed and skipped through Middlemarch . Lockdowns 1 & 2 have encouraged me to read Daniel Deronda – properly this time, and now, I’m reading her earlier books, to get to know her better, from the detailed observation of wildlife and clothing, to the role of religion in people’s lives… Defying convention, living with a partner, she’s fascinating…

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  5. Ahh thank you for sharing… indeed we shouldn’t force ourselves to read when not in the right mood and all… Les Mis is also a book I have been avoiding for the longest time ever – the musical was amazing and everyone has raving reviews about the book – I’ll definitely be keeping your words in mind when I feel pressured to pick it up.

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  6. Les Mis is a monster, and the kind of book which probably acquires complete consentration. I only got round to reading it in early 2019, and while worth the effort, I don’t think I could have got through it this year in the midst of all the stress about the pandemic. You are quite right putting it aside again for now if you are feeling abliged to read it rather than wanting to. Sounds like a case of right book and wrong timing. I’m sure you will love it when you eventually get to it.

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