I’m currently up to my ears in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, a big book if ever there was one, with most editions clocking in at around a thousand pages. I started reading it on February 16, which means that I’m already more than month in (and about two-thirds of the way through the book). All I have swirling around in my head at this moment are images of Jean Valjean’s white hair, the Thenardiers’ decrepit attic apartment, and Marius’s threadbare old jacket.
That’s the nice thing about big books—they get inside your head. You spend so much time with them that they become a substantial part of your daily life. If you read a couple-nine-ten chapters daily, like I do, then you get to “meet up” with the characters every day, sometimes for a period of weeks (or months? Maybe you like to take your time). By the time you’re halfway through, you’re really rooting for them!
On the other hand, big books slow down my reading-goal progress, since it takes so long to get through them. Furthermore, if I get to a part in the story that I don’t like (usually a historical-background chapter), I often find it difficult to push past it—sometimes it doesn’t seem worth it, especially when I’ve still got 650 pages to go, you know?
But I can see the light at the end of the Parisian tunnel; I’m going to make it all the way through Les Mis, and I’m enjoying the journey along the way.
What are your thoughts on big books? Do you love ’em or hate ’em? What’s the longest/best/worst you’ve ever read?