I was thinking about the Margaret George novels, which have started to turn yellow they’ve been sitting on my shelves for so long (you know, the ones about Henry VIII and Mary Queen of Scots?).
And I was thinking about the non-fiction, the seemingly endless works by Antonia Fraser and Alison Weir, and about Rebecca West’s Black Lamb and Grey Falcon.
It was all pretty random, the only consistent theme being my feeling-sorry-for-selfy because the size of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall (which is actually a terrifically well-told story) has prohibited its being toted on my commutes and being dragged into bed.
That means that I’m reading an average of 10 pages a day, which means I’ll be finishing Wolf Hall (assuming I don’t miss a day) in approximately 2028. (Although, if it’s a nice weekend and my schedule cooperates, I might finish it on the porch this weekend, where it can sprawl across my lap as needed.)
But as it turns out the 650-ish pages that I’ve been moaning about are really not so many, not in the wider reading scheme of things.
When I sorted my fiction inventory file, these were the longest books to come out.
True, some of them are compilations and contain more than one novel (I’ve *-ed those) but, still, I’ve read three of them (I’ve bolded those).
1004 Fanny Burney’s Cecilia (1782)
1006 Charles Dickens’ Dombey and Son (1848)
1023 Mervyn Peake’s The Gormenghast Trilogy (1988) *
1024 Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind (1936)
1024 Elizabeth Moon’s The Deed of Paksenarrion (1992) *
1065 Sigrid Unset’s Kristin Lavransdatter (1929) *
1079 David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest (1079)
1086 James Michener’s Centennial (1974)
1088 James Michener’s The Source (1965)
1111 Mary Gentle’s Ash: A Secret History (1999) *
1130 James Michener’s Hawaii (1957)
1168 Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged (1955)
1198 Marguerite Young’s Miss MacIntosh, My Darling (1965)
1222 Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables (1862)
1444 Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace (1869)
1472 Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy (1993)
It’s fun: pulling out a chunk of your inventory, musing at whether it reflects your reading habits.
I’d say this chunk does not-too-badly (some classics, some genre, some commercial, some literary) but because it’s so costly (and, therefore, less profitable) to produce works in translation, I’d say the seeming preponderance of authors from England and the U.S. is somewhat misrepresentative.
Anyhow: herein ends my moaning about the size of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall.
How about you? What’s the longest book you’ve read? Are you moving v-e-r-y slowly through something yourself these reading days?