What To Read This Month?

images.jpgThis was the month I intended to only select a half-dozen large and demanding books and blow off the lesser novels which so often interfere with the big fat ones I have been putting off for years. I started with five fat ones but then added a few very tempting texts with more manageable page counts. Then I added a few more and soon I was caught in the cycle of posting works I really wanted to read as opposed to works I really should read.

Is reading A Man Without Qualities and crossing off yet another book from my bucket list more satisfying than ready three of four novels from other authors around the world?

It was a struggle but I opted for continued variety and a promise that I will try to work at least one bucket list tome into each month’s reading pool. This month there are actually three titles that may earn me the dubious satisfaction of having read something great and challenging: The Golden Notebook, They Were Counted, and Frog.

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I Made My Nut, and Now the Vig

group-of-men-reading-pile-of-booksFor many years now I have loosely targeted my annual reading to score about one-hundred books, some long and some short. It always intrigues me when I look back over my reading from the years I worked many hours and compare it to my reading now that I am retired. It’s about the same. How did I go to work, at times with a very long commute, and only pause to read a few minutes each day over a hasty lunch at my desk, and actually read as much if not more than I am reading today?

Is it my aging eyes? The advent of digital readers? A diminishing attention span? Not enough vegetables in my diet?

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Big Fat Books

Have you noticed this?

Books are steadily increasing in size, according to a survey
that has found the average number of pages has grown by 25%
over the last 15 years.

Booker2015I have to agree but as the article in The Guardian conjectures, this may have something to do with the growth of electronic readers and digital editions. About ten years ago I experienced a painful strained wrist and coincidentally read The Tale of Genji: do you suspect there was a connection?

I have always treated big fat books differently from the more manageable volumes. Until fairly recently the size of the book was involved in my decision whether I bought the book or whether I requested it at the local library. Big books took longer to read, so to avoid those exorbitant library fines, I often would simply buy the book and take my time reading it.

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Those Big Fat Books

big booksThe subject came up recently in terms of regretting those extra-hearty tomes we all want to say we have read but it’s so hard to tell a lie. Several years back I hosted a reading group on Yahoo concerned with Big Fat Books, or BFB for short. The idea was to provide a shared reading experience for books and book sequences that exceeded 600 pages, usually by selecting only one book to be read over a three-month period. The group was never wildly successful: discussion was weak but for the first couple of years, many of the books were being read (which was satisfying).

I found this old list of Big Books for your consideration. Most were selections at BFB and I have read a few of them already. The big challenge for me in my waining years is to read a few more of those big ones, specifically The Recognitions, The Anatomy of Melancholy, Joseph and His Brothers, and A Man Without Qualities.

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