So, I am a reader. Anyone who knows me is not surprised by this. For as long as I can remember, I have read. However, my not so secret shame is that I have never read much of anything that could be considered a “classic.” In fact, the majority of my reading would fall into the decidedly not classic genres of science fiction, fantasy, action-adventure and thrillers. So, earlier this year, I decided to rectify this situation by committing to read at least 12 works that are considered to be classic literature. One such book was one that I read along with my 12 year old daughter as part of her Geography studies, Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne.
Of course, I’ve heard of the book and the author is well known for several of his other books, including 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, but I’ve never read him. I haven’t even seen the Jackie Chan movie version so I really had very little idea of what to expect. In short, I thoroughly enjoyed it and so did Peanut. We listened to the book together as part of school time and the version we listened to was read by the amazing Jim Dale. His talents for accents and altering cadence and pitch really made it feel alive and by the end, we were right there with Phileas Fogg and Passepartout, hoping he would win the bet. In particular, the portrayal of his often bumbling French servant was delightful.
I could write a much longer review of the book but I don’t really feel that it is needed. What I will say is that it is a great book to read as part of a Geography or History class with your kids. All of the places that they visit, the various modes of transportation from the 1870’s and the different cultures mentioned are all ripe topics for homeschooling. The pace is not breakneck but it is also plenty fast enough to keep Peanut engaged and interested.
As for my own quest to read more classics. This book certainly qualifies and was very enjoyable to boot. I will definitely read more of Verne’s works as I really admired his ability to keep a large number of plot points going and then tied it all up at the end. There were even a number of twists that I definitely didn’t see coming and that’s always fun.