Reading Goals – Abridged

Everyone I know keeps quite busy in early retirement. It might in fact be true that early retirees are even more busy than they were when they were working. Summer, which gloriously exploded this week in MN, is an especially busy time.

Whether it is the season or my age (I turned 55 back in April), I am finding myself too busy to accomplish everything with the time I have. I’m feeling I am at the point where I need to start modifying some of my longer-term goals to fit my schedule.

A few years ago on our fall trip to England & Scotland we stayed in Oxfordshire and visited Shakespeare’s home town of Stratford-On-Avon. At his childhood home – where I learned his father was a glove maker with a pet monkey – I was inspired to make a goal of reading all of his famous plays. I remember reading ‘Twelfth Night’ and ‘Hamlet’ in college and high school, but recalled little about them.

Unfortunately, my goal to read these Great Classics ended up low on my priority list when we got back home. I didn’t even once crack the 600-page, two volume ‘Harvard Classics Shakespeare Library‘ books that I have.

Instead, I recently found a nice book with significantly abridged versions of Shakespeare’s plays. Each one spans about 10-15 pages and includes the basic character definition, main plot points, and colorful Shakespeare phrases. I’ve revisited “Twelfth Night’ and read through ‘Romeo & Juliet’ in just the last two days. Each took about 30 minutes, which perfectly fits our summer reading half hour.

Related: Summer Reading Half Hour

I’m sure my college professor would be appalled at this diminishment of the great works of The Bard, but I left campus more than 30 years ago and never made the time for it. I’m hopeful even in this ‘Reader’s Digest’ form, I’ll be able to enjoy getting to know these much-heralded works and better recognize their influence in other stories.

Who knows, perhaps the abridged works of Dickens will be next!

Anyone else hoping to read the Great Classics in retirement?

Image Credit: Fredric Leighton, The Reconciliation of the Montagues and Capulets (1850)

6 thoughts on “Reading Goals – Abridged

  1. Reading LONG anything, even in FIRE, is extremely hard. There’s a reason the youngsters came up with TLDR and apps to shorted books/articles.
    Having said that, I have not stopped learning TONS of new stuff since leaving my career. Expanding one’s mind is a key human trait that we’d be wise to continue as long as possible.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha! I told my 23 year old son I wrote an article about my Shakespeare book and he said, “Yeah? TLDR it for me. “


    2. I had to google “TLDR”. I am now ready for the onslaught of comments of…..Okay Boomer.

      Another story about ten years ago in a class taught by young people I raised my hand and requested they use full names of things they referenced rather than use acronyms or shorthand letters. I think about my early forties I lost the ability to retain such idioms.

      The same class also made references to various Star Wars episodes. I saw the first film and don’t try to explain how it really isn’t the first. I happen to be a Star Trek fan….the original series.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My son can rattle off the Star Wars movies by episode number without even thinking twice. Like you, I’m cursed with having them filed in my brain by when they were released! The second Star Wars movie, ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ is the best, even though he strangely refers to it as ‘Episode V’.


    1. It’s an old hardcover I got at a thrift store or garage sale at some point. Title is ‘Tales from Shakespeare’ by Charles & Mary Lamb. It was published by Encyclopedia Brittanica in 1924. Had no idea it was that old until I just looked at it! There are a bunch of them on eBay for less than $10.

      Liked by 1 person

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