While Dracula is a fun and interesting book to read, it can also be a difficult and challenging experience. Being written in the epistolary format, the story is often told through the journals or letters of various characters. While this keeps the excitement levels high, being able to receive the points of view from different characters with with different beliefs and values, it is also challenging, due to the difficulty of connecting the subplots of the many different characters.
In order to help myself understand the book better, there are a few circumstances which I must meet in order to fully grasp the material. Firstly, I need to read the book somewhere that is quiet and undisturbed. I find that when reading Dracula in a public setting ( such as in a noisy room or at the beach) the everyday language of bystanders contradicts the Victorian British language used by Stoker, which makes it difficult to concentrate.
Since there are many phrases and words I do not know, I also find it helpful to read either by a computer or my phone. This not only helps my understanding of unfamiliar words and phrases, but considering that Dracula is a Victorian Era novel, i can easily look up information on the Victorian Era to show how circumstances in the book were relevant to that time period. For example, early in the novel, Mina refers to the "New Woman", and through the aid of the internet, I was able to learn that the "New Woman" was a Victorian term used to describe women who pushed to be independent from men and challenge the male-dominated society.
Probably the most important condition of my reading process is my use of annotations while I read. Whether it be a passage of major significance, or simply something that connects to another reading, I annotate it using post-its I stick in the book, which also serve as a place to write notes. What I find that these notes are both helpful and inspiring. They help me remember important details, but at the same time, I can look back and see how far along I've come in understanding and reading Dracula. While it may be challenging at times, reading Dracula has both helped my understanding of the Victorian era, and my understanding of the horror genre as a whole. The novel never fails to leave me wanting more and find out what happens next.