Friday, 20 November 2015

long books

book group in 2006  We tackle anything!
  Reading "The Count of Monte Crisco" reminds me of 1998, when I first joined this book group. They were reading "Middlemarch" that month, and the next month read "A Suitable Boy" by Vikram Seth.  There was a stunning quote that I have never forgotten (in "A Suitable Boy").
  "I hate long books, the better, the worse.  If they're bad, they merely make me pant with the effort of holding them up for a few minutes.  But if they're good, I turn into a social moron for days, refusing to go out of my room, scowling and growling at interruptions, ignoring weddings and funerals, and making enemies out of friends..  I still bear the scars of "Middlemarch".
  What a coincidence that we read these two books one after another.
  Well, "Middlemarch" was 852 pages, but "A Suitable Boy" was 1400 pages!  Imagine an author who is writing a 1400 page book writing about a character who complains about 852 pages. Is that irony?

And so, back to "The Count of Monte Cristo".  1,272 pages.
I did turn into a social moron!   But, somehow, I was continually drawn into this complex story of revenge.  I found that it really stretched my mind to keep the narrative in focus, while following convoluted digressions from the main narrative.  I found some parts boring and wondered why they were included, but the ending brought everything and everybody together.  

I am reminded of this quote by Henry David Thoreau:
"Reading is a noble intellectual exercise- not that which lulls us, but what he have to stand on tiptoe to read".

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