Big Books

I’m making my way through another big book. This time it’s Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity. Which actually looks worse than it is. It’s a massive, very heavy hardcover absolutely crammed full of information. But while the page numbers run well past 900, once you factor in all the notes and the bibliography, it’s only 700 pages of actual reading.

The same could not be said for Les Miserables, because my copy did not have any notes. I read all 1202 of those pages.

Because I have a goal of the amount of books that I read every year, I tend to shy away from tackling really big books. The thinking is that taking time on those books will hurt my chances of achieving my goal. (One year I was one book short of my goal and I was super sad about it.) I clearly also have terrible memories of taking 3 weeks to get through Daniel Deronda.

But I digress.

I’ve been working at 2 very intimidating looking books in a fairly short amount of time and, as we’re all aware, people like to comment on reading material. Especially if they also fancy themselves readers (I’m afraid that I have a rather lofty impression of what actually constitutes a reader). Aside from the “whoa that’s a big book” comments, what I’m hearing most often is that they would never read a book that big.

And I’m left wondering why that is?

Don’t you ever finish with a book and wish that there was more to it? Big books have more!

Don’t you ever feel like maybe the book was wrapped up too quickly, like they ran out of space? Big books do not do that. They wrap up perfectly in their own sweet time.

You could argue that big books are heavier and you don’t want to lug them around. I’d be inclined to agree with you today – Far From the Tree is a heavy mofo. But with ereaders as popular as they are, there’s no reason for you not to attempt to read War and Peace (there shouldn’t be any pages missing anyway) or Anna Karenina or Middlemarch.

Are long books always classics? No – there are plenty of recent books that are long too. I just can’t think of any… biographies can be long! The Queen Mother’s biography was massive. But then, she did live until she was 102 so that was a lot of life to cover. I know that you can get a 3-volume biography of Winston Churchill as well. But that’s broken up into sections.

What’s my point here?

Don’t be afraid of long books! Sometimes they are the very best ones.