Judge the book cover: A Tale of Two Cities

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness. . . .”

A novel about the French Revolution is not exactly light reading material. A Tale of Two Cities demands your concentration, and I’ve been told that the ending is worth all the time it takes to get there. I knew this before getting into the Dickens classic, but I still feel somewhat surprised by the complexities of this well-known tale. I’m almost halfway done and I can honestly say that reading this book is taking some effort. But let me be clear, the effort is enjoyable and a welcome change from some of the beach reads I sped through on my recent vacation.

I just read this essay written by a teacher who points out that kids are now skimming books and finding information about them online rather than actually sitting down and reading the book. If this is where things are headed, I feel bad for kids. There is something incredibly gratifying about spending time with a book, reading it page by page and as slowly as it takes to understand and appreciate each and every word the author skillfully put down. Reading A Tale of Two Cities and other classics is about more than just understanding the story and its characters. It’s about turning that last page and feeling a sense of completion that you can only get when you’ve read a book from cover to cover.

I’m reading the Penguin Clothbound Classic version of A Tale of Two Cities, which is the first image below. It is wonderfully tactile and includes some great illustrations, including the title-page from the first bound edition of the book.

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