The Booker winner was announced last week to be hefty tome The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton. It seems many people out there in book blog/twitter land are talking about it, reading it – or as in my case preparing to read it. I bought a copy for kindle – as I couldn’t quite face wrestling with an 800+ page hardback. The other book I think everyone will be talking about – just released in the UK is the very long awaited new novel by Donna Tartt – The Goldfinch (700+pages I believe). I have yet to buy that – but am sorely tempted as I loved her previous two novels.
All this has rather forced me to face a somewhat thorny bookish issue – fat books. Sometimes called chunksters in the bookish world – I have always called them fat books – and I always will. I realise that I rarely read really fat books these days– I used to though. I can only think that my reluctance (which I haven’t been entirely conscious of) is due, in part, to the size of my TBR – it has never been as bad – and also to this blog. When writing a blog I suppose it is normal to want to update it reasonably often – and when the blog is mainly book reviews – reading fat books means the updates are going to be rather spaced out. Now really that shouldn’t matter – I know that – it isn’t as if anyone will be tapping their foot wondering where the next book review on heavenali is. The only pressure to update my blog is that which I put on myself – how silly!
Looking back over my reading life – I can remember times when I have relished becoming totally immersed in a fat book – a book that took me a whole week or more to read (that’s my definition – as I usually read 2 -3 in a week). I remember being swept away by Anna Karenina and War and Peace, I adored the big novels of Fanny Burney, Bleak House and Middlemarch and A Fine Balance. I loved The Pillars of the Earth, The Quincunx and A Suitable Boy – all read pre blogging days, pre internet bookish activities of all kinds actually. I can still remember how special the relationship a reader develops with a big book can be – you invest so much time in it – it becomes a massively important part of your life, in a way a 200 or 300 page book doesn’t always.
However none of that means I think bigger is better – not at all – there can be something very powerful in a short novel. I’ve just finished reading a short 150 page book (its fiction – but barely a novel) that is absolutely exquisite. Many times I have been blown away by the subtle power of a short book, sometimes less really is more, and sometimes it’s not. But there is a bit of me that sometimes misses getting really caught up in a really fat book.
What are your favourite fat books? do you save fat books for particular times like holidays? do you avoid them at all?