The Book Addict's Guide. It's a chance to mini-review books that I read pre-blog. This week's topic is to choose some of the longest books you've read. I was tempted to jump right to Stephen King (The Stand and Under the Dome? Hello!). But I read a lot of King, so I mixed it up. Instead, I have 2 very different books to contribute!
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Yes, I read this monstrosity a few years ago. It was my ultimate reading challenge for a long time; I had a vision in my head of completing W&P and automatically receiving a bejeweled crown and years of adoration from all that came into my presence. Instead, I received looks of genuine puzzlement ("Wait...you didn't do it for a class or anything?") and carpal tunnel after holding up that heavy tome for 3 months.
Okay, it wasn't as bad as all that. It's actually a pretty decent novel (English professors the world 'round are keeling over at me calling War and Peace "pretty decent"). There are a lot of intersecting storylines, all sorts of romantic drama, and hello! War! With Napoleon! Good action there. It's hard to keep all the Russian names straight, and the second epilogue made me want to cry (it's very philosophical, and I may have skipped it), but otherwise, if you have the time, it's not the boring trudge that everyone makes it out to be. The bonus is that it will make you interesting at cocktail parties.
I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe
I told you I had two very different books to review! I Am Charlotte Simmons is actually on my all-time favorites list. It follows the title character as she begins her freshman year at fictional Dupont Univerity (a thinly-veiled Duke). Charlotte is a bit sheltered, having been raised in a small North Carolina town. She does not expect that she will so quickly have to deal with things like sex, drugs, and other debauchery when she reaches campus. The book follows her throughout her first year, as her innocence and values are continually challenged, and she tries to discover herself through a new lens outside of her small town.
I read this book not long after I graduated from college, and I think that is a lot of why it spoke so loudly to me. If you had the "traditional" 4-year university experience (living on campus, away from parents for the first time, etc), I'm sure at least some part of this book will resonate. Wolfe does an awesome job of fleshing out Charlotte's character, and paints a realistic portrait of university life (as much as parents and college administrators probably wouldn't want to admit it). Yes, it is long--but Wolfe takes his time telling Charlotte's story, and it's worth the extra pages. I've been meaning to re-read this one for a while, because it's worth savoring again!
What are some of your longer reads?