How to finish reading Don Quixote
How I did it: When I was younger, mainly in highschool, I tried to read the book (also because it was mandatory). But I found it quite boring, especially when Cervantes started talking about shepherds in love, and things like that. However, many people find the book great, so I thought there should be something else, deeper (now I can say they were right: if you just see the surface, it is a silly adventure of two guys; but this is actually the tip of a much more complex iceberg).
So I decided to give it another try. First of all, I looked for a cheap edition (five euros for both volumes), for two reasons: 1) being a cheap edition, I felt it was ok to write notes on the margins of the book (I always felt a deep respect for books, so I never mark or write on them; however, writing my feelings in the margins made me interact a lot more with the story, which in the end made me enjoy it deeply). 2) as it was a cheap edition, it has very few notes (notes are great probably when you read the book a second time, but the first time you read it, they are just distracting you from the story; I realised this was one of the reasons I was not enjoying the book the previous times I started it).
I started reading the first part in February 2011. By September I started the second volume, and I finished it today. As I am cycling to my workplace, I usually do not have a lot of time to read books (which usually was in the bus or the train), so I had to make an extra effort to find time to read at least four or five pages a day.
Before starting, I decided to pay special attention to subjects related to science and mathematics, as an interesting cross goal. However, I found very few quotes related to science; there are some mentions, but you realise soon that Cervantes was a man of letters. So, there are many, many references about how people lived in the 17th century, how did they wear, eat, speak... I think Cervantes simply cared more about people than about nature in general. Most science you will find in the book is about medicine.
Despite this (about not finding a lot of scientific subjects), I enjoyed a lot the book. I overcame my dislike about shepherd stories not thinking too much about it, and kept reading. Then I found out what a treasure this book is. It is a real time-machine to the 17th century. Now that I have finished it, I feel like having travelled there and lived among those people.
Lessons & tips: If you think it is too long, just do not think about reading all the 900 pages in a day. Just focus about reading four or five pages a day.
Make it an interesting reading. Read it your way. My way to do this was getting an edition with few or no notes (so they did not distract me), to be able to write my own comments (I never started reading without my pen), and looking for a cross subject that interests me (in my case, science), so I could tell other people things I found out that other people didn't.
Resources: As it is a classic of literature, you will find thousands of editions. You can also read it for free in Internet (for example here), but I do prefer to read a real book. And, if you do speak Spanish, try to read it in Spanish (even though it is Middle Spanish, which makes it more difficult in the beginning, but you will get the hang of it).
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