The Pleasure of Serial Reading

Cartoon raven and bat resembling Poe and Dracula.

I recently discovered Dracula Daily, a newsletter which sends you individual chapters from Dracula by Bram Stoker in “real time.” As you might remember, Dracula is written as a series of letters, journal entries, newspaper articles and so on, each dated between May 3 and November 10th. The newsletter sends each entry on the date shown.

Besides loving the sheer cleverness of this concept, I’m finding it a novel (hahahah!) way to read. Getting a small piece at a time slows me down, not just literally, but also in the way I process a story. I think about the details more, enjoy the clues, appreciate the small ironies and bits of humor in a way that I don’t when I’m page-turning to find out what happens next. For example, it’s delightful thinking about Jonathan Harker collecting recipes to send home to Mina on his way to Castle Dracula. The newsletter lets me savor the words in a way I don’t when I’ve got the entire book in my hands. It’s not bad as a memory exercise, too. I recently read an article called “How to Prevent Memory Loss” and two of the suggestions were pay more attention (it’s easy to forget things you never noticed properly in the first place) and read novels (you need to remember what happens along the way as the story progresses). This newsletter makes it very easy to do both.

Disappointingly, Dracula Daily doesn’t send an entry every single day for the simple and very good reason that the novel just doesn’t have an event for every consecutive day. I miss the days I don’t get a newsletter. Fortunately, I’ve since discovered a second literary newsletter, Edgar Allan Poe Daily, which sends part of a story or a poem from the master of macabre on each day that Dracula Daily does not send one. It’s genius. I just started “Murders in the Rue Morgue”, and I’d forgotten what an innovator Poe was. You can see where Arthur Conan Doyle got his inspiration for Sherlock Holmes. And once again, getting the text in short segments gives me the patience and incentive to read carefully and slowly, savoring the details and the language. It’s just a delight.

For those who are just starting these newsletters, they also provide archived text, so you can jump to an earlier date and read until you catch up to the current missive. Hope you enjoy them as much as I have. And if you come across any others, let me know in the comments!

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