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21 October 2015

Curl up with a reallllly big book I have to say, I've read the Jean Auell books (though not consecutively), and I'm still struggling with The Pillars of the Earth (I put it down for too long and now I have to refresh the characters in my mind). I thought the last Harry Potter book was long (but quick)! Name some of the longest books you've read, and whether you loved or hated them.[More:]

For example The Crimson Petal and the White was one long novel (835 pages) that has never left my mind, even though I still wonder if I liked it or not. And I gave up trying to finish Jonathan Strange, even though I liked it for the most part.
Dammit, I forgot the "more inside". I'm sorry.
posted by redvixen 21 October | 20:43
I read a lot of those Auel books as a kid but at some point I could not read the same "circling her areola" scene again and asked myself if I really needed to read these any more. I use to be very big on finishing books and never needed bookmarks because I'd know exactly where I left off. (I'm almost sure that stopped with Autumn of the Patriarch, because it was possibly one long paragraph.)

I use to look for really big books because I loved being firmly inside a book I didn't have to worry about ending too soon. In fact, that's the only reason I got Infinite Jest. (That's also the reason I was at first entranced with comic books, because the story didn't end.) I'd never heard of it, knew nothing about it, and only yanked it off the shelf because it was huge. I started reading it and by time I noticed the footnotes, it so cracked me up as a novel device on top of the start that I knew I was getting it. Little did I know the looks would get from people who recognized the name. The thing about that book is in between the ripping parts were chunks that were pretty purely to punish the reader, but even knowing that, I still had my book discipline then.

I read The Crimson Petal and the White because Emily Gilmore mentioned it for her book club and I was exactly in the mood for it right then. Did not appreciate the miniseries.

After dealing with my attention span being medically massacred so the whole concept of ever picking up Godel, Escher and Bach was out the window, everything changed, then things changed again when I finally figured that out. Then there were the years of mandatory reading of really badly written, horribly laid out things so dry that the bead of information extracted would have made me angry anyone had to put up with that if I wasn't using all my energy miserably plodding through an academic desert. And this is when I discovered genre trash I would have never considered before, because it was the exact opposite of academic journals with no useful conclusions from the staunchly uninspired. Unfortunately, I have a very narrow tolerance for trash. Where I read everything as a kid, I can barely give a crap now. There has to be some prompt or motivating factor now. I barely follow literature at all now, where a turn of phrase use to be so important to me. Also, unless I'm traveling I will barely look at a hard copy because the genre trash really started with the accidental acquisition of my first e-books, although they were pdfs. I still don't have a dedicated reader of any kind but I do have e-copies of books I have that have not moved off shelves.

I bet the next big book I read will be either the Alec or 1Q84, because they're here, untouched, the latter in two versions, but here is another newish issue: eye fatigue. For someone who had to deal with near blindness for so long, it was weird to discover how much of an issue this was.

There's a lot of struggle with books, from being young, non white, female, non traditional, non conformist-- there's a lot to endure and understand, but once you've stopped having to struggle for long enough, it's hard to find something worth struggling for, except when there are so few things with me in mind, there isn't much choice.

I remember A Suitable Boy being satisfying in the end but that got lost to a recent Indian immigrant who didn't seem to understand I was only lending it to her a very long time ago.

I would love book recommendations of all kinds, be they ardent, goofy or what have you.

In fact, I'd be up for resurrecting the book swap idea with e-books I was working on.
posted by ethylene 21 October | 23:14
I very much enjoyed Harry Mulisch's The Discovery of Heaven. (thanks jouke!)
posted by JanetLand 22 October | 06:50
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James, winner of this year's Booker Prize and 700+ page novel/doorstop, was my top pick for Best Book of 2014. It chronicles the history of Jamaica over the 20 years following an assassination attempt on Bob Marley in 1976.

From my Goodreads review: "This is a difficult, compelling, exciting book, based on the true story of Jamaica's flirtation with communist rule during the late 1970s complete with CIA involvement, an assassination attempt on Bob Marley, and the migration to America of Jamaican bad actors who set up a massive drug network. It's told by various characters, who pop in and out of each other's narratives, and sometimes slink away not to be heard from again. Reading this book for me involved frequent referral to the four-page character list at the front of the book, and to previous chapters whenever an event resurfaced that had been alluded to or fleshed out more than three chapters before. Most of the major plotlines resolve in one way or another, but the reader has to work for that knowledge. It all sounds like a major slog, I know, but if you want to get the exhilarating feeling that comes when you figure something out, and you want to feel that many times over the course of a book, read this one. Your diligence will be rewarded."
posted by initapplette 22 October | 10:16
Clarissa -- meh

Les Miserables -- great

Atlas Shrugged -- readable but ended my short college infatuation with libertarian philosophy

And Ladies of the Club -- enjoyable

War and Peace -- took me three tries but definitely a great, great book

Pillars of the Earth -- very engrossing

Magic Mountain -- long because you really have to finish it and then read it again immediately. First reading is a slog, second a delight.

posted by bearwife 22 October | 12:12
The last really long book I read was "New York" by Edward Rutherfurd. It was for my book club. I stopped 2/3 of the way through. It was initially interesting and I liked the characters. But all of a sudden the story would jump by 50 years and an entire storyline would just be abandoned. The closer it got to modern times, the less plausible it became.

The Goldfinch was a fairly long book, another book club group (my choice), but I loved it. The characters were vivid and real and the story gripped me.
posted by Senyar 22 October | 17:27
I loved The Stand, and keep toying with the idea of reading the expanded version, but it's quite a commitment.
posted by theora55 23 October | 12:16
Theora55, the expanded version is worth it. I loved The Stand, too, it was the first book that led me to Stephen King (though I've dropped reading his new books..they've lost something to me). There are scenes in the expanded version that more completely round out the characters and their interactions. And it's not really that much longer.
posted by redvixen 24 October | 19:08
Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson is one. I liked it so much I re-read it.
posted by Splunge 25 October | 17:24
Middlemarch. Love, love, love that book.
posted by altolinguistic 26 October | 07:50
Yeah, it's been over fifteen years since the last go at Middlemarch. I think I'm due for a re-read.
posted by tangerine 26 October | 13:35
Middlemarch comes under the category of "Books I've read so many times that they don't seem like long books to me." Bleak House would be another one like that.
posted by JanetLand 26 October | 13:54
In the Light of What We Know. An experience. Sometimes a good one.
posted by Obscure Reference 27 October | 12:16
Yes, I can't say enough good things about Middlemarch. It is truly a long standing favorite, and I've reread it now at least twice.
posted by bearwife 28 October | 13:41
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