Sunday Salon

Long road to the end of 2015

sundaysalonEvery time I enter the under-the-roof cupboard where I keep my TBR stash, there is one pile of books that looks at me rather accusingly. This is the pile of those I pulled the front intending to read before end of this year. They’re  mixture of  titles remaining from my TBR Challenge and books I received last Christmas that I feel guilty I still have not read.

From the TBR Challenge I have:

The Sea,The Sea by Iris Murdoch
Dr Thorne by Anthony Trollope
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
Abyssinian Chronicles by Moses Isegawa
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

And on the Christmas gift pile I have:
The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink

I do want to read all of these. But most of them are big fat books. Nothing like the length of Vickram Seth’s A Suitable Boy which according to this infographic comes in at 593,000 words or Bleak House at 360,000 words. But they’re still rather sizeable. The Sea, The Sea is 560 pages  and Abyssinian Chronicles 512 pages (though the type is very small and dense). And that’s causing me to procrastinate and vacillate and end up choosing shorter works.

I don’t normally have any issues with novels over 500 pages long, sometimes they are my favourite reads because I can get fully absorbed the characters in a way that isn’t always possible with short novels. But right now I don’t feel I have the energy for the effort I suspect it will take.

I could of course just take the plunge and decide to make slow but steady progress by reading just one chapter a day. Or give myself a good talking to for being such a wimp. But dear readers, you may have a better strategy to recommend? Do tell me if you have any issues with longish reads and how you overcome them.



What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

23 thoughts on “Long road to the end of 2015

  • I go through phases of avoiding longer books but, like you, often find them to be the most satisfying reads. I think the key is to have a good chunk of time to get started. Once enthralled it shouldn’t matter if you have 15 minutes or three hours to read, but the the first couple of times you pick up a big book I find need to be longer because there tends to be a lot of exposition and scene-setting.

    The only one on your list I’ve read is Love in the Time of Cholera, which I liked but didn’t love. Good luck getting through at least some of these before the year end!

    • Thats good advice – they do take a little while to get into. I am nervous about Love in the Time of Cholera. I have a feeling I read it some years ago but didn’t get on with it that much.

  • The Sea, the Sea is good and I don’t remember it being as long as you say it is which must mean that it is a very enjoyable 500 pages. The Flanagan book is most excellent. I highly recommend it 🙂

  • I intersperse with shorter books, perhaps read some short stories on the side, I don’t put two big literary behemoths back to back but slide a crime or SF novel between them, stuff like that.

    And if I decide a book’s not worth my time, I stop reading it and move on, but that’s as true of a 150 page book as an 850 page one.

    • I’m more inclined to stop reading now if it doesn’t interest me whereas before I think I would plod on in the hope it would get better.

  • It’s an interesting idea. I think that winter generally feels like a good time to curl up and get lost in a good long book. Having said that, once one door-stop is finished it’s always good to move onto something lighter…

    • I tend to keep the longer books for when i know I’ll be taking a long flight. but my travel for this year has been curtailed which has added to the problem. I’m hoping I can do a fair amount of curling up over the Christmas period

  • I have 5 days at Memorial on my TBR list to read this year too. As much as the size its the subject matter that keeps me from it. I really WANT to read it. I know its important and a well done book, I am just not ready to be so angry/sad.

    • for sure its not going to be a light read in subject matter but I also think it could be one that its possible to read in small sections

  • When reading tomes, I make sure that there are other books to read on the side (preferably shorter). I notice that I’m pretty fast when starting a new book but I slow down at the middle. During the middle part, I tend to seek out other books. Sure, I won’t finish a lot for the month with this method but after two-three months, the read pile gets a huge bump.

    • thats an interesting approach… I’m always nervous about parking a book up for a while just in case I lose track of who is who and whats happening

  • I don’t have a problem with long books, I’ll plod through them even when I’m losing interest or wanting it to be over. But I do have a problem with physically large books – they are annoying to carry for a car or train ride, they are uncomfortable to read in bed. I’m going to try and make a better effort next year, I think I just need to find an extra short period most days to read 5 pages at a time in an arm chair.

    • the bulk is certainly an issue – I lugged The Luminaries around Asia with me and really regretted doing so….I like the idea of 5 pages a day….

  • I just look at a book as a book. I do note the number of pages, but mainly to see how compelling it is to me… Example. I just read Sue Grafton’s most recent release in the Kinsey Millhone series on Saturday (yesterday) and finished the last 70 pages this morning. It was longer book (at 403 pages) than the last few I’ve read, but it didn’t feel like it at all. I just don’t worry about the quantity of pages because different books read differently for me, and the formatting (font type and size and line spacing on the page) makes a huge difference, so you don’t know how long it will take you to read it until you just do it! 🙂

  • I always have trouble starting BIG books but often find them to be my favorites. Last year I listened to all 700+ pages of The Goldfinch on audiobooks. It took over 18 hours of listening, but I loved every minute. I have to remind myself of that whenever I launch into a big book.

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  • readerbuzz

    I avoid big books, though, paradoxically, when I do read a big book to the end it’s almost always on my best of lists!

  • I have the same kind of issue, particularly when I’m in a period with not much reading time. I go sailing happily into a long book then just get fed up and want to finish it so I can read other books and so I too end up going for shorter ones – which is a bit of a cop-out I know. If you find a solution, let me know……….

    • We’re so hard to please aren’t we – always looking at something else that tickles our fancy instead of just living in the moment of the book in front of our eyes


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