October 26, 2006

Big Fat Books

Since I started this blog, I've noticed that bloggers like a challenge. At least that seems to be true of book bloggers. I missed out on the Summer Reading Challenge and opted out of Carl's R.I.P. Autumn Challenge and Sassymonkey's October Challenge. Booklogged is gearing up for a Classic Challenge and Bookfool has plans for a Chunkster Challenge in 2007. I wonder what it says about those of us who participate in these challenges? Do we all just need an extra push to read some of the books that have lingered on our shelves for too many months (or, in my case, years!)?

Whatever the reason, I am determined to read some of these Big Fat Books for Bookfool's Chunkster Challenge. My goal is to read one a month for the entire year. I may only read a total of twelve books in 2007 (instead of my normal average of 75 or so), but that's ok. It's never been a goal of mine to read a certain number of books in one year. But, wait! That sounds like a good challenge, doesn't it? ;)

The Winds of War by Herman Wouk (1047 pages MM)

2. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (945 pages MM)

3. The Alienist by Caleb Carr (597 pages MM)

4. The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber (894 pages QP)

5. The Way the Crow Flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald (810 pages QP)

6. Songs in Ordinary Time by Mary McGarry Morris (740 pages QP)

7. East of Eden by John Steinbeck (601 pages QP)

8. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (529 pages QP)

9. Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi (525 pages QP)

10. Pasadena by David Ebershoff (485 pages QP)

11. Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks (483 pages QP)

12. London by Edward Rutherfurd (829 pages CL)

13. Dreamcatcher by Stephen King (617 pages CL)


The Brothers K by David James Duncan (645 pages QP)

The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James (548 pages QP)

The Secret History by Donna Tartt (524 pages CL)

MM = mass market
QP = quality paperback/trade paper
CL = cloth/hardcover


  1. Anonymous7:28 AM

    Wonderful list. I like your idea on one Fat book a month. Don't know if I'll do that or not. My personal challenge for 2006 was my A to Z by title and author lists, so I might use the Chunkster Challenge to start a year long goal like yours.

    Haven't read any of the books on your list and they all look interesting. I have read Sarum and Russka by Rutherfurd and really enjoyed them - particularly Sarum.

  2. Anonymous7:48 AM

    First of all it's fair to say that unless I do nothing but read my challenge books all weekend I am horrifically failing my own October Challenge. YAY ME! I so rock. Yeah, so next...

    I've never read Ann-Marie MacDonald. But she hosted an event I went to on Friday and she's just simply damned funny. She made me want to read her.

    I also need to read Middlesex...It's in a pile here somewhere.

    I'm scared to look at your list too much...I'll find big books I want to read and ummm right now I can't handle more books to read.

    (Oh, and as this gets to be a novel instead of a comment - I'm doing an A-Z challenge in 2007.)

  3. Wow! Good luck with that!
    I don't think I've read any of those. I'll be interested to hear your reviews.

  4. Anonymous9:21 AM

    What I find a little bit amusing, is that I had no idea some of these were that long. Lonesome Dove was engrossing, I knew it was long, but over 900 pages! Don't remember The Alienist or Stones from the River being that long either. I guess that like any good book, if you are engrossed in the story, the book doesn't seem so long. The Secret History, however, seemed interminable!

  5. It's interesting, I OWN most of those thirteen books. I want to read more big books next year too. I am going to copy down your list, and maybe if I read the books I have that you have, I will have some motivation to read them.

  6. Me again, I am serious, you should tell me when you are going to read each book and I will join in, or try to. Because of those 13 main books, I own 9 of them...

    The Alienist, The Crimson Petal and the White, The Way the Crow Flies, Songs in Ordinary Time, East of Eden, Middlesex, Stones from the River, Birdsong, and London. Go me!

  7. Being new to the book blog world, I haven't had a chance to participate in any challenges yet. I think its a good way to make you think out of your normal reading "box". I would have done Carl V.'s but I found out about it too late!

  8. Is this a good time to mention that you left Outlander off your list?! Oh, and Gond with the Wind and Quincunx! Just kidding! LOL! I haven't started compiling my list, but I do have a few in mind. You've mentioned several that I'm going to consider. I think one a month sounds like a great plan. Won't we be tickled with ourselves at the end of the year?

  9. Anonymous2:05 PM

    Lesley, that's fantastic, you are my hero! :)

    It's an old story that I'm intimidated by tomes, but I'm hoping bookfool's "Chunkster's Challenge" will change all that.

    Love your list! There are many on there I hope to read - Middlesex, The Secret History, The Crimson Petal and the White and so on. 2007 is going to be an interesting year! :)

  10. Anonymous6:59 PM

    Hi Les,
    I know youv'e heard me say it before....Lonesome Dove!! It's one of my all time favorites and I can't wait to see what you think. I read Secret History a couple of years ago and I still debate with myself over whether I truly liked it. It has definitely stayed with me though. I also have Crimson Petal and the White in my TBR. I've heard really good things about it. I also think The Stand would be a good one for the Chunkster Challenge (1153 pgs!). Good Luck and Have Fun!

  11. Anonymous8:25 PM

    I read several of these and they are so good I can't even remember that they were voluminous! I would suggest adding to the list...although it would surpass the magic number...Antarctic Navigation by Elizabeth Arthur. Big, engrossing and wonderful!

    I've posted my first Thursday 13! How much fun is this?

  12. Anonymous8:44 PM

    I totally tried the one fat book a month thing this year. I wouldn't exactly say I failed. But, so far, I think I've only read 5 of the doorstops on my list. I did try each one of them, but I refuse to spend an entire month reading a book I hate!

    Thanks so much for visiting my site. I'm bookmarking yours, too. It's so much fun to have a new book blog to read!

  13. SusiQ, I read Sarum, too (several years ago prior to a trip to England). It was very good, but it took a long time to read, especially since I was busy taking classes and raising a pre-teen. I hate to admit that it took me almost 6 months to read! My husband has read almost everything by Rutherfurd so I have plenty to choose from just from our own shelves.

    Sassymonkey, you do rock. You got to have lunch with a famous author! That beats a challenge any old day. And what a treat to hear Ann-Marie MacDonald. I haven't read any of her books either, but I hear she's good. I've almost decided that The Way the Crow Flies will be my first from the towering stack of Chunksters. Good luck with your A-Z challenge in '07. Just whisper to yourself, "I think I can. I think I can. I think I can." :)

    Thanks, Angela. I hope I get through at least 50% of what I've chosen. Stay tuned!

    Jenclair, so you're telling me you didn't care for The Secret History? Uh-oh. Maybe I need to make two stacks. One for the books everyone raves about and another for the debatable titles.

    Kailiana, my choices were limited to what I actually own, trying to whittle down my stacks a bit. I'll be sure to mention my upcoming selection in case you do want to join me in a buddy-read. Maybe we can encourage each other to keep going.

    Sheri, welcome to the blogosphere! I don't think you'll be lacking for reading challenges now that you've found us. I'm suspect Bookfool will give us plenty of notice about her challenge and I look forward to your list of Chunksters.

    Booklogged, I knew someone would mention Outlander! I'm tempted to add it to my list, but for this particular challenge I want to stick with books I already own. It's fun to see all the empty space on my bookshelves. Perhaps my reward for reading all of these is a shopping spree at B&N. :)

    Jen, I knew you'd jump in on Lonesome Dove. You're the reason I've got it in my stacks. I don't know why it's taken me so long to get to it! Hmmm, another questionable comment about The Secret History. I may move that one to the bottom of my stacks. The Stand would be a great addition to this challenge, but I've already read (and loved) it. It's on my re-read list, though. So is Swan Song (Robert McCammon). Both are excellent tomes.

    Di, I've never heard of that book (or author!) and need to go peruse the blurbs on Amazon. Who knows, I may wind up tossing something off my list and need a replacement. Thanks for the recommendation. I plan to read your Thursday Thirteen later today. It is fun, isn't it? Bellezza got me started.

    Adrienne, hey, five big books is an accomplishment as far as I'm concerned. I'll be happy if I get through half my stack. And I refust to stick with one I'm not enjoying. Thanks for stopping by!

    Lotus, you're so sweet. I'm intimidated by Chunksters, too. That's why it was so easy to come up with 13. I've been ignoring the ones I own! I actually have a few more on my shelves, but they didn't appeal to me. Who knows why I own them!

  14. les, I wanted to post a comment last night, and all I could get was "Error." So, here I am today. I just want to tell you that The Secret History is one of my top all time ever favorite books. It's way, way up there. I've read it about six times, but never considered it a fat book somehow. I just got so into it, and I can't wait to discuss it with you. Your list seems quite wonderful, and I will join you in a few. Qaulity is better than quantity, right? (Yet another case where six inches is the fun size!)

  15. p.s. Loved Crimson Petal and the White,too. Great book!

  16. I like the Chunkster Challenge.
    I agree with everyone about Lonesome Dove. It doesn't feel like as big of a book, it's that entertaining!!

    Coincidentally, I'm reading a chunkster right now--A Distant Mirror by Barbara Tuchman. It's nonfiction, history. I really like her writing. Page count: 677, if you count the index. Oh, and I just noticed there's another map after the index. So it's more like 679.

    When you get to The Brothers K, I'd really like your opinion on it. I used to see this book all the time, but when I set out to buy it last summer...sigh. Also, London by Rutherfurd.
    Happy eyestrain...I mean, happy reading! lol

  17. I'd love to know what you think of The Crimson Petal and the White. I was on a 19thC scholarly listserv at the time Faber was writing this book, and saw lots of questions he asked the academics. I couldn't wait 'til the book came out, and I wound up loving it. I read it at approximately the same time I read Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, which was so similar in theme it really surprised me I'd chosen to read them so close to each other. You have a great list there!

  18. Hi Les!

    I hope you enjoy this reading journey. It certainly is a challenge, yet a fun way along the way. :)

    I plan on reading LONESOME DOVE for Bookfools Chunkster Challenge. I read THE WAY THE CROW FLIES and started THE CRIMSON PETAL AND THE WHITE (didn't like it). I have MIDDLESEX on my iPod to listen to along with THE BROTHERS K and THE SECRET HISTORY on my TBR list.

    Sooooo...this will be great to read your reviews. :)

  19. Thanks for the shout-out, Les!

    Great list! I haven't read a single one of those but 7 of them are on my list of books to tackle. I think The Way the Crow Flies is calling to me loudest. And, there are a couple of others I'm really dying to get to.

    I'm also failing Sassymonkey's challenge. Do we need to challenge ourselves, really? I don't know. It's fun, though. I like setting goals for myself and there are times it's really helpful to set a self-challenge because I'll buy a some books and then think, "Later, later," for such a long time I really ought to just pass them on. Challenges can help - or sometimes you bomb (I do, anyway), but it's nice to have a goal line out there.

  20. Oh, now a vote in favor of The Secret History (and The Crimson Petal and the White)! Guess I'll just have to shuffle these books around and pick randomly. Thanks for your input, Bellezza. Wow. I don't think I've ever read a book more than two times, let alone six. You must really like it, eh? As I glance over at the stack, you're right. The Secret History really isn't that big. I just went by page count and since it has over 500 pages, it made the list. Maybe I should've set the page count higher for hardcovers. Too late now. This is my list and I'm sticking to it!

    Bybee, if it turns out that I don't want to keep The Brothers K once I've finished (and I'm only keeping my absolute favorites anymore), I'd be happy to send it to you. Just remind me when I post my review, as I'm sure I'll have forgotten all about my offer by then! I'm so glad to hear that Lonesome Dove doesn't seem long. It sure looks intimidating, but my sister-in-law has raved about it for as long as I've known her and I value her opinion, so it'll be one of the first I read.

    Lisa, thanks for the heads-up about the similarities between The Crimson Petal and the White and Fingersmith. I'm planning to get a copy of the latter in the next few weeks or so and will remember to not read the two too closely together. I keep hearing such good things about Waters' books and I'm anxious give them a try. Maybe I'll start with her most recent release, though, since I really enjoy books set during WWII.

    Joy, maybe we'll wind up reading Lonesome Dove at the same time. You can keep nudging me along if I start to get discouraged, ok?

    Nancy/Bookfool, you're more than welcome!! I figure the more people participating in your challenge, the more peer pressure I'll have to succumb to. ;) As far as whether we really need to challenge ourselves... I enjoy having a reading list like this, as I did with my Classic Challenge. I need to push myself to read some of these books I've had for so long and by having a challenge, I get to them more readily than if I just perused my shelves. Obviously, I'm still reading what I own (with a library book here and there), but I tend to gravitate toward the new releases and wind up ignoring some of these gems that have been out for years, if not decades. I won't feel like I've failed the challenge unless I simply wind up ignoring the stack I've selected. It won't bother me in the least if I only read half of what I've chosen. As long as I make an attempt, that's all that really matters to me. Of course, if the grand prize is a trip to Italy... ;)

  21. Well, I'm afraid there won't be a trip to Italy. I've been begging for that trip for years (honestly, I just made a total fool of myself - I want to stay in a villa, you see, because of that college course in Landscape Architecture). Okay, now you've got me wishing. Just quit that. LOL

    I like the peer pressure idea - good thought. It's really easy, as you said, to go for the newer titles and ignore what you've already got waiting. I do that all the time. I think my book collecting has gotten to the "you need therapy, babe" level, though. I'm a worst-case scenario in 3-D.

  22. Nancy, my hubby has no interest in Italy so maybe we'll just have to plan a bloggers' book retreat sometime in the future. Maybe for my 50th! That gives me 5 years to plan. :)

  23. Oh Lonesome Dove is excellent. If I hadn't already read it I would included it in my list. I do hope to reread it next year anyway. A wonderful book.

    Crimson Petal is a good read too.
    I have The Way the Crow Flies, East of Eden, Pasadena, London, and The Secret History too. I'm actually reading Secret History now. Looks like you have a great list! Good luck!

  24. Heather - Good to know that Lonesome Dove is not only a great book, but one you'd read a second time, given its length! I'm thinking I'll read it in February when it's too darned cold to do anything else!

  25. Anonymous9:28 PM

    We're in it together sister! I loved Lonesome Dove and still do not know why. A lot of people I know hated it - could not even finish.

    I used to be a sole chunkster person. Now more then 600 and I freck at the weight carrying it.


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