While I was doing a lot of walking and riding and commuting from one side of Toronto to the other last summer and autumn, I was choosing my books based on their size, on how easily they would slip inside a bag or a pocket.*
I’ve got no issue with that, really. Muriel Spark and Penelope Fitzgerald can play defense for the skinny book any day.
But what to do with all the bigger books that kept getting left at home, left on the shelf.
What to say to the bound pages of Robert Bolano and Gregory David Roberts, to those reading friends who have sworn on their merit and nagged me (nicely!) into buying those weighty tomes.
What to do with that idea I’ve had, of re-reading Tolstoy and Elliot, and picking up A Suitable Boy again (hoping, at long last, that I’ve forgotten having been told who the suitable boy is, which was spoiled for me 500-some-odd pages into reading this novel).
Well, here’s one solution. The Chunkster Challenge. Hopefully sharing reading space with other chunky-minded readers will bode well for new reading habits.
But already I have found that my original reading plans with this challenge in mind have ballooned.
Somehow, in making my list, I had overlooked the mass market shelves in my library; I forgot that a seemingly innocuous pocketbook can conceal an incongruous page count.
So what about Marge Piercy’s Gone to Soldiers? And Joyce Carol Oates’ Them? Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man? And Wally Lamb’s I Know This Much Is True?
And what about the Penguin classics nestled in there? The Trollope novels: Can You Forgive Her? The Way We Live Now?
And those fantasy novels that I collected years ago, with the best of intentions? Melanie Rawn’s The Golden Key? Tad Williams’ The Dragonbone Chair? And one which is constantly dangled about these days: G.R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones?
To say nothing of the other novels that I overlooked while making my original list. Because I was in a particular mood that day.
Though I have been in other particular kinds of moods since. Moods which made these books look all-the-more-inviting:
Elizabeth Arthur’s Antarctic Navigation
Ann-Marie MacDonald’s The Way the Crow Flies
Julie Orringer’s The Invisible Bridge
Leslie Marmon Silko’s The Almanac of the Dead
Ann Fairbairn’s Five Smooth Stones
Fanny Burney’s Cecilia
Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables
Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones, and
Marguerite Young’s Miss MacIntosh, My Darling
Right now, my big read is Tiina Nunnally’s translation of Sigrid Undset’s trilogy of novels published as Kristin Lavransdatter.
But even though I’m not mathematically inclined, I know that I need to be more than 100 pages into this novel (which does seem to read remarkably quickly) if I am to read more than one book of this size in this reading year.
That doesn’t stop me from making loooong lists of biiiiiig books to read in 2012, in my reading lifetime.
How about you? Are you reading any big books right now? Are you planning to?
Are any of these (or those on my original list) particular favourites of yours?
* And most often it had to share book space with Coach House Press’ Stroll by Shawn Micallef, which is a delightful companion with which to travel.