Summer of Big Books


April 9, 2008 by Tracey S. Rosenberg

This summer, I intend to take a crack at some of the Big Books which teeter in a ziggaurat on the edge of my dresser. I’m currently reading Keith Maillard’s Gloria, which checks in at over 600 pages; I’m enjoying it, but it’s one of those books that starts in the present day and continues that storyline intermittently while paying most of its attention to the backstory. While I’m enjoying the backstory (especially her college years – the sorority stuff reminds me a lot of Pledged), I’m wondering not only where the story is going but when it’s going to go.

But once that’s finished, line up the big hitters. I’m going to try to finish several of these by the end of August, but as I need to put my energy into writing (i.e. finishing MY book), I’m not going to set a fixed goal. It will be like my own mini summer reading program, like the public libraries do, except I won’t get a certificate at the end. Well, maybe I’ll print one up myself.

Possible books, in no particular order:

  1. Victor Hugo, Les Miserables
  2. Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
  3. Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers [have to get this from the library]
  4. Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy
  5. Henry Fielding, Tom Jones
  6. George Eliot, Romola (I stalled partway through aaaaaaages ago)
  7. Elizabeth Jane Howard, the Cazalet series
  8. Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
  9. Gitta Sereny, Albert Speer: His Battle With Truth
  10. Sir Walter Scott, The Heart of Midlothian

It’s quite astonishing how many books one can get away with not reading even when one has multiple degrees in English Literature from respectable universities. There’s just too much to read.

I’ve already read Ulysses and Tristram Shandy and I will not be bothering with Finnegan’s Wake. (Spoiler! Finnegan isn’t dead after all and in fact his wake is the gathering for a group of inter-galactic space vampires who want to activate the portal to the Planet Litwankrivverun.) (Powells is currently showing a first edition for $3800.)

I also have a two-volume paperback Penguin edition of War and Peace but I’m saving that in case I have a hospital stay. I understand Peace is more interesting than War.

[13 days left to use the discount coupon that Better World Books set up exclusively for readers of this blog! Details in this entry. And yes, I know that in this case ‘exclusively’ means ‘anyone who swings by.’]


One thought on “Summer of Big Books

  1. kicking_k says:

    This post basically makes me want to jump up and down and go “squee!” because two of my favourite books are on that list.

    Tom Jones has been a friend since I was fifteen – either I was very brave tackling such a big book then, or I wanted to impress somebody, but it was definitely worth it.

    Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, on the other hand, is a much more recent acquaintance; on the other hand, it proved to me that it’s possible to read a thousand-page book and wish it were longer!

    I am very fond of Pickwick, too. There is no plot to speak of, but it’s so agreeable and such an easy read that it doesn’t matter. I read and liked Romola, but haven’t felt the need to re-read. (It was for a course.)

    I’ve never read any Scott, and I’ve put off tackling him for many years now, just because I know I probably should.

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Tiny bio

I live, work, and write in Edinburgh. I travel to other places as much as I can. To contact me, email writingmostly at gmail dot com.


CURRENTLY READING: The Ginseng Hunter by Jeff Talarigo.

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