Read And Enjoy Classic Literature
The all-in-1 online book club for busy people.
About Read With Me
My name is Lisa VanDamme and I am the founder of VanDamme Academy, a small private school in Southern California with big ambitions to provide students with an exceptional education and a joyful learning experience.
The single, animating element of my career – the one that provides me with an endlessly replenishing daily dose of endorphins – is teaching literature. I am not a literary scholar. I cannot classify works by “school” or “movement,” I cannot describe how they reflect the historical period in which they were written, I don’t know how to inventory their various literary devices. And I don’t care to.
If I have a unique talent as a teacher of literature, it boils down to this: I am passionate about great books. Hugo wrenches my heart and makes me weep tears of anguish and of wonderment. Rostand stirs me to noble ambition in work and love and life. Tolstoy challenges me to think – and to feel – on planes higher than I had ever known. Ibsen, Dostoevsky, Balzac, Jane Austen, Maupassant, Rattigan, Sinclair Lewis – all have helped me to see, in the words of English professor Mark Edmundson, “that life is bigger, sweeter, more tragic and intense—more alive with meaning than I had thought.” I derive profound personal joy from literature, and I have a knack for helping others do the same.
That is why I started Read With Me. I know so many people – thoughtful, intelligent, motivated people – who avoid reading the classics. And for understandable reasons: they’re busy, they don’t know what to read, they’ve never been taught how to enjoy it, they have unpleasant memories of tedious discussions in high school English…
If you are intimidated, uninitiated, jaded, disillusioned or just plain busy – read with me. Let me show you what reading can be.
How It Works…
1. Audio & Commentary
- We will read a classic work of literature together, one section at a time – works by such authors as Hugo, Ibsen, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Wilde, Tennyson, and Rostand.
- Every Sunday, you will be given a new reading assignment, and the following Saturday, I will share my thoughts about the reading. Audio of my reading of the assignment and my commentary will be available in the Read With Me app.
- You need not stay in pace with the group. As long as you are a subscriber, the audio and commentary will be added to your virtual library, and will be there for you whenever you’re ready.
- The Read With Me web app will allow you to easily navigate chapters, mark your place, and listen on the go.
- Unlike typical courses and companions to literature, I will integrate commentary after every assignment that highlights what I find most valuable or important about that section.
- My commentary is not dry, soulless, academic lessons, but rather thoughts meant to draw out the real value of the book to you.
2. Members-Only Facebook Group
- You will receive an invitation to my exclusive members-only Facebook group where you can discuss the chapter with me and many thoughtful, motivated readers.
- You are welcome to participate in the discussion as much or as little as you choose. Some people enjoy sharing their thoughts to the group, others prefer merely to observe the discussion, and still others bypass Facebook and stick to the audio only.
- You need not stay in pace with the group to comment. I monitor comments on past posts, so you can enjoy feedback wherever you are in the group.
“It’s like having someone whisper in your ear, ‘Notice this!’ or, ‘Don’t worry about that!’ right when you need it. This has really helped me get to the core of the book. I think I’ve learned more about the right way to experience and analyze literature in the few weeks that we’ve been together than in my 20 years of formal education.”
“I love feeling connected to the group that’s grown here. I look forward to comments from certain people, and I love when newcomers chime in, too. As much as I LOVE having Lisa as our ‘teacher,’ it’s also nice to get perspectives from all kinds of ‘regular people.'”
Being read To
“Your reading is achingly packed with emotion, your voice so expressive, I feel carried away by it. I wonder sometimes if I’m feeling my emotions, or yours.”
“I love a passionate reader. Sometimes the most subtle change in your voice will cause me to pause the recording and reflect on what I just heard.”
“…I know what to expect. Preliminary thoughts and the reading, a focused summary, another post or two drawing out important elements, and favorites. Just enough without being too much.”
“Many books will languish in my to-read pile for ages until I decide to start a book club about them (and I therefore *have to* read them). This group is an excellent external motivation.”
“This club feels like an oasis. I feel nurtured when I interact with the group, like it’s a spa for the soul.
I always want to come back to enrich my life.”
Q: Is there a way to try it out before I subscribe?
A: When you sign up, you will be given access to a free account where you can listen to the first four chapters of Victor Hugo’s Ninety-Three along with my commentary. Then, if you want to hear more, you will have the option to subscribe.
Q: I may not be able to keep up every week. Should I wait to subscribe?
A: Every book we read while you are a subscriber will be added to your virtual library. If you fall behind, you can catch up any time and you are welcome to revisit the material as often as you like. The longer you’re a member, the better stocked your library will be.