| || |
I have a confession to make: there are a bunch of books that have been collecting dust on my shelves for, in some cases, over a decade. Those same books have been collecting metaphorical dust on my Goodreads to-read shelf since I joined in 2007. They're all the really long ones; the ones that double as doorstops. I've read many long books but not in the past few years, other than continuations of series I am already invested in and perhaps one or two audiobooks that were serious time investments. I consider this a gaping hole in my journey to be a well-read person considering many of the books that people are always asking if I've read are serious time sucks: Infinite Jest, The Stand, War and Peace, Gone with the Wind, and that damn Game of Thrones series that has replaced the Twilight series as that book that all your relatives, coworkers, people on mass transit, your gynecologist, and your best friend's cousin's roommate ask if you've read.
I think what stops me is a lack of accomplishment. I can finish three or four books in the time it would take me to read some of these books. I can finish three or four wonderful books in some cases, and it is so much easier for me to abandon a book I'm not enjoying if I haven't already invested a lot of time into it. (so it could (but won't) go without saying that I refuse to give up on really long books) I was emailing with Tatiana and Catie recently about my intent to start slowly reading Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, which rings in at an impressive 1,079 pages. By some accounts it is a huge undertaking and one that takes a ton of commitment, but when I read some of the 5-star reviews on Goodreads, I am certain that I want to read it. (Bonus: It would up my street cred with Seattle hipsters) In 2009, many participants in Infinite Summer read the entirety of it in small increments. (75 pages a week) Though I found out about the project only recently, I really like the idea of slowly reading long books with a community of readers. Last year I did many readalongs with friends of mine during the first half of the year but I let it fall by the wayside during the second half, despite the enjoyment it brings me.
In my dreams, I could find perhaps four or five people who all want to read one of these books with me. We could read 100 pages a week and take turns writing a blog post about what we thought of that section and how the readalong is going. But since I doubt that will come together easily, I am thinking that I can just pick a book to start with and just post every Sunday on my progress. Maybe I'll end up reading much more than 100 pages a week. Maybe I'll even finish say, five of these books this year. (cue the laugh track) For now I'll just set my goal at a whopping ONE dust collector off my to-read shelf.
Here are my choices:
The Stand by Stephen King (1,153 pages)
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (1,392 pages)
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (1,024 pages)
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace (1,079 pages)
Kristin Lavransdattar by Sigrid Undset (1,168 pages)
This Is All: The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn by Aidan Chambers (816 pages)
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson (1,007 pages)
The Magus by John Fowles (656 pages)
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality by Eliezer Yudkowsky (1,425 pages but ongoing)
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (672 pages)
Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (578 pages)
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin (864 pages)
Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey (1, 015 pages)
The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy (704 pages)
When I think about which book to start with, I am almost positive I have to start with Infinite Jest. It's the one I'm most scared of so it makes the most sense to shoot for it while I'm gung-ho about finishing one of these books. What do you think? What imposing tomes do you have collecting dust on your shelves? Want to challenge yourself with me? (or even perhaps read Infinite Jest with me? Would anyone actually read posts about my progress on long books? (I'm really skeptical that they would!)
Please, people of the internet, answer all my questions.