Am I Ready For The Long Haul?

…And a deep breath and a huge sigh all around! I have just had the most manic week I think I have ever worked. Today was my first day working from home in over a week, I wanted to say it was my first day off but that hasn’t quite happened and probably won’t happen for a few days.  The reasons, well, over the last weekend we had the opening four days of the Liverpool International Music Festival which my team have been working on for months. It was madness, brilliant but madness. We had thousands turn up (60,000 on the last day on Monday) and myself and the Beard, who kindly was forced volunteered to help out, did all the meet and greets which ended up with us taking over 120 screaming girls to meet lots and lots of pop stars – knackering but loads of fun, especially as my aunty and cousin came to stay for some of it!

These celebrations, and the week and a half of madness in the office leading up to it, have meant reading has really gone out the window and I am haven’t really picked up very much. I have finally been doing some book sorting and got rid of about 200 half of which have gone to neighbours and the library, the rest are going to be donated to my local bookshop. This sorting has highlighted a) just how many bloody books I have – not that I am complaining – and that b) I have a lot of books lingering on the bookshelves that have something in common, they are all bloody huge…

Bloody Big Books

(Note that the selection of books pictured above are some recent additions to my ‘really bloody big and really bloody scary’ row of shelves at the bottom of one of my bookcases – seriously, I keep them there because my eye line skips them and they do genuinely daunt me.)

You see, in my head, initially I think they are going to be 500 pages of me pondering over how many books I could be reading instead, being honest. Yet actually, when I was sorting through the shelves of books in the lounge which I have read, I realised that out of all the books I have kept that I have really loved they have been books of a larger size. Once you are in a book you love you often don’t want it to end, with a longer book it won’t!

This leads me to think that it must be that the pressure I put upon myself (along with some work deadlines) reading wise means I tend to go for shorter books overall. If I try and make excuses for this I could say that with everything that went on with Gran over the last year and a bit I couldn’t really get into a long book, then there was this huge project at work. Yet now feels like time to try some longer books, maybe the biggest hurdle is taking that leap of faith and patience with something massive? Any recommendations, new or old, would be most welcome. What are your thoughts on those chunky tomes?


Filed under Book Thoughts, Random Savidgeness

16 responses to “Am I Ready For The Long Haul?

  1. Chunky tomes *can* be scary – I have to psych myself up a bit to read one nowadays and blogging in many ways doesn’t help because you end up with a big gap between reviews. Also, if you don’t have decent periods of time to set aside, it can be hard to get into a longer work. But I read the very long Anna Karenina for the first time this year and loved it. So I say don’t be intimidated – go for it!

  2. Elizabeth Taylor

    Of course, it all depends on the book. I remember reading Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy which was over 1300 pages long and I didn’t want it to end.

  3. queenofthepark

    Read Questions of Travel. It looks chunky but it’s very giving and will sweep you up in its flow. That was my experience. My daughter loved it as well. So Australian and yet so universally modern. And I know you have a great Australian experience coming up soon, so this will be a good complementary read!

  4. gaskella

    I tend to put the chunksters off, but when I give in and read them, I get totally absorbed. I too have the Luminaries and The Kills on my shelf – but I also have Wolf Hall, and many other great long novels waiting to be read too!

  5. I have both Questions of Travel and The Luminaries sitting here on my desk beckoning me to pick them up. In fact Questions of Travel will be read soon as I am discussing that one with my online Australian book group coming up in November. BTW this blog is a great source for anyone interested in titles with an Aussie flavour. I personally do find big tomes a bit daunting and usually set them aside for holiday reading when I can give them my undivided attention.

  6. I’m definitely feeling the book brick nerves right now, too. I’m in the middle of Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch and plan to follow up with The Luminaries, which I’ve heard amazing things about. I’m not sure what the UK release date is (it’s not available here in the US until the end of next month), but if you can get a copy of The Goldfinch, I would highly recommend it. I have always been a person who reads at least two books at a time, but this one has made me totally monogamous…because nothing else I pick up seems like it’s going to be as good.

  7. dijinn

    I heartily concur, the perfect kinds o’ books a definitely the sort that go on and on and never end. A few of my random favorites would be;

    The Crimson Petal and the White
    The Passage
    House of Leaves

    But the absolute best gargantuan book would have to be, sans doubt… David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. It is the one book I am always perpetually reading it. Never get tired of it. If you read it and dislike it, I’d happily reimburse your out of pocket expense for the book. I’m that confident you’ll enjoy it.

  8. Sharkell

    Congratulations on the success of your music festival. 60,000 is quite a crowd! I can only read chunksters when I am in the mood but usually love them when I am brave enough to pick them up. I have been eyeing off A Suitable Boy for months now and this week took the big step of taking it off the shelf and reading the first couple of pages. I get the feeling I am going to love it but I’m not sure when is the best time to start – perhaps no time is a good time and I need to bite the bullet and just start reading!

  9. I love chunksters. I love being wrapped up in a story for that long (when it’s good, of course).

  10. David

    I currently have three huge tomes on my TBR pile and I find them very daunting: The Kills and The Luminaries (honestly I have a sneaky feeling the former will end up going to a charity shop unread) and also David Peace’s Red Or Dead, which I’m uncertain why I bought as football is really not my thing but I stood and read the first few pages in WHSmith and was weirdly hypnotised by the rhythm in the same way a Formula 1 grand prix can hypnotise me on the radio on a Sunday morning as I make my breakfast. Neeee-yowMMmmmm neeee-yowMMmmmmm….

    Questions of Travel is clearly a very good book. It has won prizes so it must be. I didn’t like it, found it a huge slog with very little interesting to say and gave up on page 277. But then I didn’t like her last novel either, so I suspect it is just me.

    On the whole though, when I DO get over my fear and read chunksters I love them: A Suitable Boy has already been mentioned, but also Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance, Ann-Marie MacDonald’s The Way The Crow Flies, Ahdaf Soueif’s stunning In The Eye Of The Sun, William Riviere’s Echoes of War, Steinbeck’s East of Eden and many more.

  11. I’m half way through The Luminaries and it’s excellent. It has a large cast of characters and a complicated plot but she’s really excellent at holding it all together and making a thrilling read. Usually with long novels with lots of characters I start get get confused about who is who but in this I’m able to keep them all sorted in my mind so it’s really engaging.

  12. I always feel like the longest, biggest book I ever read was Bolano’s 2666. It probably wasn’t but it certainly felt that way! Sometimes with books that size, you feel like you are slogging through, but when it’s finished, you realise just how much you were living it! Joyce
    Carol Oates has a couple of biggies, Blonde and My Sister, My Love and both are books to luxuriate in!

  13. mikewbn1

    Hi Simon – I see that you have Questions of Travel in the pile, it is very thick so I understand why it’s daunting, but definitely worth the effort…

  14. It’s silly really but blogging is the main thing stopping me from picking up big books, because I worry about having a big gap between posting reviews. Clearly that’s stupid because I have really loved some chunky books. And also I have so few readers, who will notice the gap?! But even for bloggers like you with an actual following, I doubt a longer gap between reviews will be minded that much, especially if you write musing posts like this in-between.

  15. Marie

    Hey Simon — I’m desperate to know, how were you able to get rid of some 200 books? I’m in awe! My weeding attempts often resultn in ten or fifteen books out the door, if that. 😦 Were they mostly “I’ll probably never get to this” or “I read it, it was ok, but I’ll never read it again”? Any tips you might have, I’d be glad to hear them. Thanks!

  16. Good luck I ve read naked singularity and just finished the 950 page indian novel Mirror of beauty I got the trwo bookers on order from library so must be a glutton for long books ,all the best stu

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