It’s no secret among us bookish folks that we like big books (and we cannot lie). There’s just something so delicious about the heft of one in your hands. We’ve embraced the scarcity culture, and it’s like we can’t believe that there will ever be enough words to consume. C.S. Lewis said it best:
“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”
The Kindle has relieved some of my book anxiety. As a child, I practically had to bring an extra suitcase to hold the books I thought I would get through on a given vacation. I’m pretty sure I brought at least three books on my 4 night honeymoon. Yet with my digital libary at my fingertips, I know there’s always more to be read, as long as I have WiFi.
But there’s still the allure of the epic, the all-consuming book that you nibble away at. The first for me was Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I had a hardback set of all the books, and they felt ginormous in my little hands. (I’ve re-read a couple recently and discovered that they’re only so large because the text is huge!) I felt so proud of myself for being able to read such a long book.
Sure, I’ve encountered some giants that I haven’t been able to crack. Middlemarch comes to mind, and Look Homeward, Angel. I slogged through American Gods and Man Booker Prize winner Wolf Hall. I was one of like five people in the universe who wasn’t blown away by The Goldfinch. I’ve never attempted Infinite Jest and I’m not really sorry. Not to mention, we know how I feel about the classics, which leaves out an entire swath of eligible biggies.
Others, though, have sucked me in. I’m genre agnostic when it comes to my big book loves. Right now I’m floating in the middle of the ocean that is The Emperor of All Maladies, a non-fiction biography of cancer. (Ironically enough, I’m reading this as my “micro”history for the Book Riot #ReadHarder challenge.) The last several Harry Potter books apply, as well.
A few that I’ve loved:
The beautiful thing about North and South is that it’s the first of a trilogy. The only thing better than one big book might be three. I had to take long breaks in between to recuperate emotionally, so I still have the third to conquer.
A holdover from my days of Christian fiction reading, this one’s a love story for the ages. Somewhat similiarly, check out Roses by Leila Meacham.
There’s a time and a place for the easily digestible book, the quick read, the fluff. I love a book I can devour start to finish on a Saturday. But then there are the books that make you slow down and savor them. The big books. And I do love big books.
What are your favorite epic reads? What’s the longest book you’ve ever read?
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