If I like a book, I want it to be LONG. A thousand pages means nothing to me if the book is a good one. On the other hand, I know that many people beef about long books—an attitude I fail to understand. If the book is absorbing, or a good story, then why would you want it to end so soon? It’s like A. J. Liebling’s explanation of why he was a gourmand and not a gourmet: if you like food, you will like a LOT of food.
Well, I know I’m in the minority here, but I just found an article in The Atlantic that recommends LONG books (I also just remembered that I’ve had an online subscription to the magazine for five months, and had forgotten about it!)
Click to read (I don’t know if it’s paywalled):
It turns out that I’ve already read four of these. Guess which of the six I haven’t read?
Here’s Masad’s list, but first the intro:
Literature should not be something we approach out of a sense of duty. But many lengthy, complex, and well-known books really are that good. Like taking a long hike or following a tricky recipe, engaging with writing that challenges you can be deeply satisfying. Each of the books below is demanding in its own way, and reading or rereading them can be a fascinating, beautiful, and rewarding experience.
The Tale of Genji, by Murasaki Shikibu (translated by Dennis Washburn)
Moby-Dick, by Herman Melville
Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackeray
Middlemarch, by George Eliot
Almanac of the Dead, by Leslie Marmon Silko
Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace
Of the four I’ve read (and this gives one away), I found Middlemarch the best, but all the ones I’ve read are good.
But why do they leave out Ulysses, or Anna Karenina, or The Brothers Karamazov? (Actually Masad did read and enjoy Joyce’s novel, though he said he initially read it out of a sense of duty.
Here’s a book (or rather, a bunch of books) that I tried to read out of a sense of duty, and couldn’t get through even the first volume: Remembrance of Things Past. It was simply too fricking turgid! Of course that means I can never enter a “Summarize Proust” contest (first five minutes of the Python episode below):