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.

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Big Fat Books Need Love Too

You may have noticed that I whizzed through an uncharacteristic number of novels the last two months. It was easy and usually a great deal of fun reading detective thrillers, mystery stories, and an occasional example of contemporary fiction. Unlike my doubts expressed after reading Tolstoy and the Purple Chair, I found I actually could read a book a day, as long as I was selective as to size or content.

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These Books Could Give You A Bloody Nose

Not that many years ago I was laying in bed reading The Tale of Genjii when a sharp jabbing pain in my wrist caused me to yelp, drop the book on my exposed nose, and lose my place amid all those exciting medieval pages. Surely something had snapped in my overstressed wrist and I was forced to prop-up all my big fat reading from that point on.

Another change in my reading life caused by this event was a tendency to eschew my beloved big fat books in favor of more safety minded slim titles.

I guess I got out of the habit and I have been shifting the big ones back to the bottom of the reading pile for several years now. I might have blamed my dimming eyes but I think it was more my aging patience: Why read one big one when you can read a half-dozen  that are possibly just as good, albeit much thinner.


Well, it’s caught up with me this last month of the year and I have pledged my muse that I will only read (finish) a couple of those long delayed big books (especially since I have several digital editions that will give me big fonts without all the heavy (and dangerous) bulk that paper and ink editions represented.

The last few weeks I have been massaging my list an despite only targeting five or six titles, I had some trouble keeping the pool under twenty. Oh, I was able to cross-out a few but my final list of fourteen was too daunting. So I invented the two-tiered list: books I really hope to read on top and in a lower berth, books I want to read if there’s any time left (what with reading, exploring my new baritone ukulele, Christmas celebrations, and a visit from an old neighbor and her dog).

So here it is:

Read These

  1. North — Louis-Ferdinand Céline
  2. Frog — Stephen Dixon
  3. The Big Money — John Dos Passos
  4. The Golden Notebook — Doris Lessing
  5. Infinite Jest — David Foster Wallace
  6. New Grub Street — George Gissing

And If There’s Time (Ha Ha Ha)

  1. The Woman In White — Wilkie Collins
  2. Nostromo — Joseph Conrad
  3. The Count of Monte Cristo — Alexander Dumas
  4. Women In Love — D. H. Lawrence
  5. A Man Without Qualities — Robert Musil
  6. Doctor Zhivago — Boris Pasternak
  7. Against the Day — Thomas Pynchon
  8. Cryptonomicon — Neal Stephenson.

Note: Following a rather inconsistent practice I have indicated in Blue.the titles I now have read.