Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I Like Big Books



Well, I have gotten myself into trouble again, reading-wise.  It's ridiculous, but I am simultaneously reading two books which are more than 800 pages, and I have two books scheduled for my June discussion groups that are more than 500 pages each -- one is 600 pages!  Here's what I'm reading right now:

About 800 pages
Over 1000 pages (includes appendices)

(Disclosure:  I am mostly listening to Our Mutual Friend on audio, in the car.  It will take weeks since it's 28 discs and I'm not usually in the car more than 30 or 40 minutes a day.  I'm currently on disc 12. )

And here's what's up in June for my book groups: 

541 pages
615 pages

And I have absolutely no excuse for these selections, since I chose both of them!  Of Human Bondage is for the Classics discussion group, and though I didn't schedule it for June, I did nominate it last year, and I knew it was on the schedule.  I did choose Cutting for Stone for my library book group, and I've heard great things about it and I've been wanting to read it for a couple of years now.  I just wasn't thinking about the other group when I put it on the schedule, and it's been published in the library newsletter so it's too late to back out now.   Hopefully the group members won't revolt when they see how many pages it is -- the group meets this week and it will be nice to get those books passed out since they're taking up an awful lot of space on the shelves at work.

If nothing else, these books should make a nice dent in my pile of books for the 2012 Chunkster Challenge. (I am not counting Our Mutual Friend, since the rules of the challenge specify no audio books or e-books).  After I finish these, I'll only need one more chunky book with a length between 551-750 pages.  I'll probably read East of Eden by John Steinbeck, since it's also on my TBR Challenge List.  Most of the other chunky books on the TBR shelves are either too long or too short for the challenge, though I think some of the Trollopes might count.

I'm still plugging away at A Dance with Dragons, which will probably be the longest book I'll read this year.  It lists as more than 1000 pages but a lot of that is appendices, e.g., lists of all the characters (don't get me started).  The story itself is about 950 pages.  It's taking me a long time because I have so many other books to read, and frankly, the size of it is really unwieldy.  I've read some long books before, including both War and Peace and Gone with the Wind, but both of those were in paperback.  DWD is too big to read in bed and too heavy to carry back and forth to work to read on my breaks, and the waiting list at the library is too long to get a second copy to leave there!  I guess I could wait until the paperback comes out, but I really don't see the point of buying two copies.  

I had the same problem last year when I read The Three Musketeers -- it was a beautiful hardcover edition, but just too darn heavy to lug around.  This is why I never read omnibus editions of books, they are just too awkward.  What about you bloggers?  Do you lug big fat books around or just read them at home?  And what's the longest single book you've ever read? (Mine has to be War and Peace.) And do you attempt to read them on e-books or listen on audio?   Anyone completed the Chunkster Challenge yet?  What did you read?

And does anyone else ever get sucked into reading multiple chunky books at the same time? 

26 comments:

  1. I don't carry around big books either and never have. I guess War and Peace is the longest book I've read, too. I'm a mood reader, so I usually have around five books going at once. I tend to shy away from longer books because of the time commitment and the fear that I'll lose interest before I reach the end. It's hard to find big chunks of time to read those big chunky books. When I was younger, I read a lot of the longer classics and I'm glad I did.

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    1. I usually have more than one book going nowadays too. I think blogging and Goodreads are starting to overwhelm me with choices. I agree than there is a time commitment to some of those chunksters -- I don't think I'd ever pick up War and Peace at this point. I do want to read Les Miserables someday but the length scares me.

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  2. I love big books too, but I manage to pace myself! :)

    Actually there are big books and then there are big books. I just finished 11/22/63, that weighed in at over 800 pages, but I finished it in less than a week. Little Dorrit took a couple of months, and Anna Karenina took almost a year. I imagine you will read the George Martin a lot faster Dickens.

    Gone With the Wind, at >1000 pages, is probably the longest book, but I don't know how it compares to Tolstoy and Dickens with regards to word count.

    Swann's Way felt like the longest book :)

    I tend to read chunksters at home, but I've taken to getting Kindle editions of classics to have on my phone and ipad for travel.

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    1. It is difficult to gauge the actual length without knowing the word count -- even different editions of the same book vary. I did find an article online about someone who analyzed Dickens' works on the computer to find out the actual length. He also studied the number of times food was mentioned and the recurrence of various words, etc. David Copperfield was the longest with more than 358,000 words, followed by Bleak House and then Dombey and Son (all of which I have read). I wonder if the actual word count of Gone with the Wind is shorter. It's certainly easier to read.

      The George Martin novels went pretty fast at first, but he keeps adding more characters and back story and it's getting confusing, so I'm not as eager to read it lately. Or maybe I'm just putting it off because I know when I finish it there'll be a really long wait until the next installment. It took five or six years for him to finish the fifth book and there are two more planned in the series.

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  3. I don't mind big books as long as they're interesting all the way through! :D The biggest one I've read this year was about a week or two ago - The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, which was 1008 pages and THEN the indexes etc. Sheesh. :D

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    1. George Martin's novels are the same way with all the indexes -- it's full of characters and their various alliances, I can't keep it all straight. Honestly, it's starting to annoy me. Family trees are one thing but it's getting ridiculous. Though I have been known to keep lists of characters in books, especially when they're all thrown at me in the beginning of a book. Wish I'd done that in the beginning of Delta Wedding!

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  4. I usually stick with big books at home and carry around a lighter one. Now, that's usually my Nook, and I sometimes read longer novels on it. Right now, I'm reading Clarissa on it. If I manage to finish it, that will be the longest book I've ever read! I usually stick with just one long book at a time and read a few shorter ones at the same time. However, right now I'm reading Clarissa and have been reading the Outlander series, which has been books with over 900 pages! Like Jane mentions though, those don't feel as long since they are still light reading despite the length. I think the longest book I've read page-wise is Gone with the Wind, maybe because the edition I read was a mass market paperback with small pages, so it's longer than some of the books by Tolstoy or Dickens that might be longer in word count.
    I have Cutting for Stone but haven't read it yet. I may have to give it a try soon. It's one of those books I rushed out and bought and now it's been sitting on the shelf for a long time. :(

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    1. Reading Gone with the Wind was definitely easier than Tolstoy or Dickens, especially Anna Karenina which seemed to drag on forever.

      I bought my copy of Cutting for Stone at a library sale a couple of years ago. Since I pick the books for the book group, I've been specifically selecting books from my TBR shelf. I know it's totally mercenary, but since I'm in charge and I HAVE to read the books, I should get something out of it, right? Besides, I keep hearing great things about it.

      And I have several unread books on the shelves which I rushed out to buy. . . several years ago. You are not alone.

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  5. Yikes! I think the only way I could read those books together in such a short period of time is if I severely put my social life on hold. Good luck!

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    1. Well, I've been listening to Our Mutual Friend in the car most days for about a month, and I'm less than halfway through. I almost always read on my lunch hour, and a little before bedtime. I think the two books for June will be short reads. I do like to have different books for different moods, anyway.

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  6. I tend to read just one book at a time, just to immerse myself in one story rather than switching back & forth. I do carry even the bigger books around with me, even the hardbacks - at least to work & back, so I can read at lunch (and stuck in traffic on the way home). I thought the longest book I'd read was Samuel Richardson's Clarissa, which in my oversize Penguin is 1497 pages, but when I checked my copy of Sir Charles Grandison, I was surprised to find it is 1600 pages - but the pages are a lot smaller than the Penguin.

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    1. Reading while stuck in traffic -- do you carpool, or take a bus??

      I've been switching off between books to get caught up for all my book groups, but now I have time to immerse myself in Dickens, which is getting really good.

      I'd never heard of Charles Grandison, but 1600 pages sounds daunting! On Goodreads it says it's the longest book in the English language. Wow!

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  7. Somehow I managed to sign up for ReadAlongs of War & Peace and Les Miserables at the same time. I'm failing miserably at both of them :( I can handle more than one book at a time but I don't do well with more than one chunkster.

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    1. Okay, that's a lot of readalongs! I've hardly touched Dance with Dragons lately because I had THREE books for book groups to finish in the past two weeks (which I did successfully). Now I can switch back and forth between the two, but they're very different so that's much easier. I'll probably finish the George Martin in a week or so.

      I only finished War and Peace because it was for a class in college, and it was the entire semester's reading -- besides that we only read The Death of Ivan Ilyich, which I loved. And I hate to admit it but I never read the last 50 pages, which is an epilogue and is really a long essay by Tolstoy about the philosophy of history or something like that. It was so boring I stopped reading it, but the novel itself is essentially over. None of that was on the final, thankfully.

      And I've forgotten almost the entire plot of W&P anyhow. ; -)

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  8. I used to love big books - the longer a great story lasts, the better. But now my TBR is so large, I prefer shorter books. I look at the big tomes and think: I should read that sometime. But I have to be very brave to pick them up.

    Good luck with your big books. You need a read-a-thon or two, it seems.

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    1. I think that's why I have so many big books on the TBR shelf! I've signed up for a Victorian Celebration hosted by Allie at A Literary Odyssey, and I'm hoping to read as many of the shorter Victorians as possible.

      I would love another read-a-thon, but now that I work full-time I have so much to do on my days off! I do look forward to long plane rides and other times when I can read uninterrupted.

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  9. I used to read long books when I went to work on public transport. There was very little chance of my being left with nothing to read if the bus was late. These days if it's a very long book it has to go onto Kindle, my back just won't take it.

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    1. I can definitely see the appeal of the Kindle, especially when traveling. I always pack too many books, but I need to have choices and I can't bear the thought of being stuck with something I hate. I like long books with very thin pages -- as long as the print isn't too small!

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  10. I take a different approach with the really long classics -- I treat them as if they are serialized (as many of them were) and just read a few pages a day. It seems to keep me from getting to about p. 400 and petering out. So far the approach has gotten me through some Trollope, Thackeray, Hardy and some Gaskell and I'm heading into Book Three of War and Peace. Even if I am tearing through another book, I find I have time for a few pages a day.

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    1. I agree about the serialization -- I've been taking my time with Dickens on audio and it's working very well. Luckily my library has just bought more Dickens on audio and even one by Trollope. I think there's some Hardy as well. Might even tackle Moby Dick on audio someday!

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  11. War and Peace is the longest book I've read too. I've been putting off reading Wolf Hall just because it's so awkward and bulky. At the moment I'm choosing books from my TBR pile because they're slim volumes and I can read them quickly. The Kindle is great for chunky classics, I seem to be able to read more quickly using it.

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    1. I'm beginning to see the appeal of Kindle for big fat books! Of course it is fun to see my bookmark progress, I'm pretty close to the 600 page mark for Dickens.

      I keep hearing good things about Wolf Hall, it might be just the thing after I finish Game of Thrones, with the medieval setting. Without all the fantasy stuff, naturally!

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  12. The Martin book is waiting for me in a corner. Last month I read Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson and, although I enjoyed it immensely, it was ALMOST too much (over 900 pages) so now I am wary of starting anything that long. (Sorry for the first comment - it had an obnoxious typo so I removed it).

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    1. I know exactly what you mean, after I finish these two epic books I'll need a break with something shorter and totally different! At least Cutting for Stone and Of Human Bondage are stand-alone books. But I predict some novellas and very short books in the future!

      And thanks for the editing, no worries. :-)

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  13. I love big books too. Before I bought an e-reader, I did lug them around. I remember reading the unabridged version of Les Mis my junior year of high school. I carried it around for almost three months. Senior year it was Lord of the Rings. It's been several years but in that time, big purses have developed into a necessity for me.

    I bought an ereader at the end of last year. I was reading Middlemarch at the time and just knowing that it would come in handy for big classics was an incentive. I like reading long books on it (The Warmth of Other Suns is a recent example).

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  14. The George R. R. Martin book caught my eye, since I recently completed a review of Game of Thrones on my blog.

    I've just been looking around for some interesting book blogs to follow, and it looks like yours is up my alley. Hope you don't mind me following along!

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