Slipping the Big One In

My reading has reached an unimagined high level, partially due to the current pandemic and also a sign of a final rush to read all those lovely titles I have coveted through the years but so far failed to read (Intimations of Mortality). I mused with slowing the flow and concentrating on a select group of gaggers which would otherwise never be allocated the time required to read one, two, even three thousand pages.

Earlier I considered dedicating the last month of the year to these big fat ones. The initial list was

  • The Transylvania Trilogy
  • Gargantua & Pantagruel
  • A Man Without Qualities
  • The Life of Samuel Johnson
  • Joseph and His Brothers
  • Clarissa Harlowe
  • The Gulag Archipelago
  • The Anatomy of Melancholy.

I’ve cracked a couple of these books in the past with mixed results: abandonment, abridgment, bewilderment. Now it’s time to polish my glasses, screw my AirPods in tight, and get the job done.

But then I flip through the vast lists of novels, drama, and even poetry which hardly represent big fat books but still have eluded my reading through the years. There are even a growing list of contemporary, even best-seller, novels that intrigue me. If I concentrate on reading books over a thousand pages how can I have time to read that 400 page novel getting such critical acclaim?

So this is the plan (remember, my plans seldom last more than a few months). First I will create a monthly reading list that represents these criteria:

  • Try to avoid current political tell-all books, no matter how effective they are in exposing the regime of crime and corruption that is hopefully trading the White House for the Big House;
  • Read a couple of books currently being read and discussed, including best sellers and book club selections;
  • Catch up on several classic texts that I should have read already, including American literature and British Victorian novels;
  • Read at least one book that meets the Big Fat Book (BFB) criteria of 600 plus pages, representing a bit of a challenge;
  • Dedicate the effort to a really big book (see list above) which will fill up any time remaining after reading the standard list of 20 titles

That should do it.

To that end, here is the reading list for November:

  1. The French Revolution — Thomas Carlisle
  2. The Book of the Courtier — Baldassare Castiglione
  3. The Prairie — James Fenimore Cooper
  4. Nicolas Nickelby — Charles Dickens
  5. Felix Holt, The Radical — George Eliot
  6. Requiem For a Nun — William Faulkner
  7. The Revolt of Angels — Anatole France
  8. The Moravian Night — Peter Handke
  9. War & War — László Krasznahorkai
  10. The White Peacock — D. H. Lawrence
  11. Home — Toni Morrison
  12. The Son — Andrej Nikolaidis
  13. Automated Alice — Jeff Noon
  14. Mysteries of Winterthurn — Joyce Carol Oates
  15. The Italian — Ann Radcliffe
  16. Mr. Hires Engagement — Georges Simenon
  17. Life On the Mississippi — Mark Twain
  18. Bluebeard: A Novel — Kurt Vonnegut
  19. Of Time and the River — Thomas Wolfe
  20. Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist – Sunil Yapa

I leave the big, big one open for now but am leaning toward the Musil.

What are your thoughts on this?

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