Lisa / Reading Lists

Big Books

I came across this article today, about massive books are worth the time it takes to read them (that article is clearly just one person’s opinion and you can find various lists that are similar, but with different big books). I’ve read one of the books on that list, Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace.

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And it took me over a year to read (actually because of Goodreads, I know I started it in November of 2014 and didn’t finish it until January of 2016). I exhausted renewals, returns, and re-check outs on the library copy before finally breaking down and buying a personal copy. Infinite Jest is a book that has footnotes* that are multiple pages long (in small footnote font) and some footnotes even have their own footnotes (I really think Wallace is just messing with the reader at times). However, it’s a thoughtful and fascinating look at entertainment and addiction and consumerism (and while the footnotes may drive a reader crazy the amount of detail Wallace put into the back stories of all these characters is amazing) and at the end of the day (or year) I’m glad I took the time to read it. Other big books I’m glad I read** include Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, Ulysses by James Joyce (although, if you want to jump into Joyce maybe just try his short stories, not sure this one is necessary), East of Eden by John Steinbeck. While, I added a few of the books from the article to my to-read list, I need a break before I make another multiple year commitment to one book. What big books have you found to be worth the time investment? Any that you regret (or glad you gave up on)?

Lisa

*The author of the article mentions buying one of the massive books on his Kindle, while this clearly has many pluses in terms of reading a big book (mostly that you can actually carry it around with you) I think it might be difficult for Infinite Jest due to the plethora of footnotes. However, I didn’t read it on a Kindle so maybe I’m wrong.

**I kind of want to include the last half of the Harry Potter books in this list because they are long and I love them, but generally these long book lists are full of books that are dense and slow to get through, which Harry Potter is not.

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