Victor Hugo's Les Miserables is widely regarded as one of the most famous and classic works in world literature. Countless readers have enjoyed this novel set in the 1815-1832 era in France about Jean Valjean and his beloved daughter Cosette. However, Les Miserables is a long text that could overwhelm many, especially if it is an assignment for school. By employing some basic reading techniques and considering alternative means to familiarize yourself with the book, you can read and enjoy this classic work of literature.
Method 1 of 3: Get Ahead of a Les Misérables Reading
Step 1. Buy a well-translated version
Les miserables has many translated versions. Choose one that suits your reading needs and has been accurately translated.
In general, the scholarly versions of Les Misérables will offer the best translations with helpful annotations. You can usually buy them at specialized bookstores and even online stores
Step 2. Refrain from forcing yourself to read
If you force yourself to read either because of personal or social expectations, you can make reading Les Misérables really a chore. Take the pressure off yourself and you can truly enjoy reading this play on Imperial France and redemption.
- Keep the book handy in your home or office. This could encourage you to read it if you are bored instead of watching TV.
- Take it with you on vacation, to a pool, to an amusement park, or on your commute to work in the morning. Having the book with you can entertain you when you are bored or need a distraction.
Step 3. Review the book when you are relaxed
Refrain from reading when you are stressed or in a hurry. Reading Les Misérables when you're relaxed can help you enjoy the story more.
- Studies have shown that a positive and relaxing environment can motivate you to read.
- For example, keep your copy of Les Misérables by your bed. This will allow you to take it before going to sleep. You can also make an appointment with yourself and take it to the cafeteria on a Saturday morning and read it over a cappuccino.
Step 4. Consult a study guide
If you are having difficulty moving forward because the text deals with complex historical events, consider consulting a study guide. This can help you understand the text and its themes, as well as really enjoy the book.
- Most major works of literature have study guides with annotated comments that can help explain difficult sections of the book. CliffsNotes, Shmoop, and Masterplots can help you break down the most difficult thematic and historical elements.
- You may also want to review a history textbook for vital context on Imperial France, which can also help you better understand Les Misérables. The Insurgent Barricade by Mark Traugott provides a fascinating look at the origins of the Parisian barricades and how they were used in political rebellions.
- Discuss any difficulties with your instructor or a friend. I could suggest effective ways to finish the book.
Method 2 of 3: Review Les Misérables Strategically for an Exam
Step 1. Create a work plan
If you feel overwhelmed by Les Misérables or don't like to read, develop a plan for approaching the job. This can help you finish the task strategically.
- There are different ways that you can develop a plan to approach your reading work. For example, if you have three weeks to read this 1500-page tome, you can break it down into a 71.5-page set of daily readings.
- You could also allot a specific amount of time to each chapter of the book. This can help you avoid getting stuck in one part of the story. For example, you could aim to read one chapter a day or multiple chapters if they are shorter.
- Take breaks to refresh your brain and recharge your batteries.
Step 2. Start reading the book as soon as possible
It is never too early to start the required readings. This can minimize your stress and help you retain the information. It can also help you enjoy the book more.
Read 30 to 60 minutes a day to help you finish Les Misérables more effectively
Step 3. Divide the book into manageable chunks
Reading shorter, more manageable sections can help you successfully complete the required readings. This can ensure that you finish every section of the book, even if it's not pretty.
Set yourself a rhythm without exceeding the allotted time for each chapter. This can motivate you to move forward
Step 4. Employ "gutting" strategies
People who read many texts, including academic ones, use techniques to quickly "gut" reading assignments (or get the most important information about them). Learning how to gut Les Misérables can help you move forward more effectively and more enjoyably.
- The most important sections of any text are generally the introduction and conclusion or the first and last chapters. Make sure to read them carefully and then quickly read the rest of the text for important details.
- In many cases, just reading the first page of a novel can give you a general idea of the subject of a book.
- Giving the book a quick read, which is the equivalent of reading about 450 words per minute, can help you get to the important plot points without focusing too much on language, character development, or minor themes.
- You may also want to use a study guide that provides plot summaries to help you pick out what to read, skim, and just skip.
- You can get an idea of the plot from a study guide and then do a quick read for important literary devices, such as dialogue or imagery.
Step 5. Take notes as you read
Take notes on the book as you read Les Misérables. You may need to remember the information for a class or another time. By taking notes as you read, you can build an integrated study guide.
- Taking notes is a delicate juggling between getting too much or too little information. Don't write down everything you've read, just the most relevant information or details.
- Take notes by hand. Studies have shown that people retain information more effectively by taking notes by hand rather than typing them on a computer or recording them on a device.
Method 3 of 3: Try Alternatives to Reading
Step 1. It depends on media other than books
Les Misérables comes in many different forms, not just as a novel. Its popularity has spawned musicals, plays, and movies. Consider using one of these media to help you understand the story or as an alternative to reading the book.
- There are many different film versions of Les Misérables. You can watch any of them to understand the story.
- You can go see the play or the musical. Big cities, including New York and London, still show productions of Les Misérables, and you might even find them at a local theater.
- You may find that watching the movie or play helps motivate you to read.
- If you travel a lot, try using an eReader or tablet instead of a physical copy. This can help you pass the time without having to carry heavy books with you.
Step 2. Suggest it for your book club
Reading can sometimes be a boring or lonely task. Suggesting Les Misérables to your book club can make reading the book a more enjoyable task.
- Watching a story unfold and discussing it can be a powerful motivation for many people. Plus, it makes the process more enjoyable.
- Combine Les Miserables with other activities you enjoy, like eating a French meal or having a glass of French wine.
Step 3. Listen to the Les Miserables audiobook
If you really don't like reading, listen to an audio version of Les Misérables. This can allow you to enjoy the story without having to read.
Studies have shown that listening to books offers basically the same intellectual benefits as reading them. In fact, there are some people who learn better by listening than by visual stimulation
Step 4. Take your time
If you're going to read Les Misérables for the sheer delight, there's no pressure to finish it quickly. Take your time while reading the book to allow yourself to truly enjoy this classic work of literature.
Divide the book into chapters to make it more digestible
- When you finish the book, you can reward yourself by renting the movie or watching the musical version.
- For an added challenge, read it in the original French.