I like big books and I cannot lie...
Reading big fat books that run into 800-1000 pages is second to none! It's like a saga that runs into several episodes! It's settling down for the long haul - to witness the entire lifetimes of characters, living through their ups and downs! Rejoicing in their happiness and agonising over their sorrows! You root for some of them and share the author's hatred for the others.
It's like snuggling into a different world and living amidst people of imagination. It could be a war world, a romantic world, a world where thrillers are taking place. Long books offer us their world for long enough to feel like we are a part of it. There have been times when I finished a book and felt like I returned to the rude, real world - and there wasn't anymore left to go back to.
And the one reason that long, written sagas pull us in is the writing! The prowess of the writer has the power to create a world so vivid and lucid that we can imagine it, we live in it. We weep and smile at the scenes conjured in our mind by the might of the writer's pen! We can't wait to get till the end as the suspense builds. We want to see the good rewarded and the bad punished.
And as readers even our intelligence is at stake. Giving up at the length of the book or the kind of writing says something about me as a reader too.
I mean I read Catch-22 because it is deemed one of the greatest books to read - on every reading list ever! I get the satire of war and the deliberate length of the book to cover it from different angles - but still it kinda got too long and slow. I still finished it because it's one of the best books of all times!
Stream of consciousness, for instance, as a genre is like the author's imagination to ours. Mrs. Dalloway is a whole book with her standing at a street corner and looking back at her life. One Hundred Years of Solitude is the same names coming up again and again. And still, as readers, we find that riveting and love the challenge of keeping up.
Writing reams and reams of pages, putting one word after the other is a coveted feat in itself. And to make it so riveting that people get to the end of those 500 pages is an accomplishment as a writer.
It's the flood of words that keeps the rivers of our imagination going! I recently finished The Signature Of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert and I think it's so unfair that she is known mainly for Eat, Pray, Love. Just like Gone With The Wind, this one also tracks the life of the woman protagonist. And I just love to randomly snuggle into the pages of such books once I've read them from cover to cover. Just open it anywhere and begin reading. Or go for the interesting bits where you know how the story unfolds. There doesn't have to be an order to re-read them. It's like plonking myself right in the middle of the ocean - with water on either side as far as eyes can go! It's literally a sea of words to drown in, to forget the world around us and go under the influence of the story.
Long non-fiction is a different kind of a beast. It's not just a story that flows. There are facts to be analysed and each chapter placed in context while reading it. The process of finishing a 500-word non-fiction book is long enough that one doesn't have the luxury to go back and forth, like we could in fiction. I read Sapiens twice to make better sense of it and I still can't jump in somewhere in the middle and make sense of it. Such books get intense and need probably a few more reads to feel like home.
I am currently reading 21 Lessons for the 21st century. And while I am done with the technology part of the book, I am still piecing together information and how it would apply to the rest of the book. So it's more of an uphill task. But that's the learning curve as a reader, I guess. It helps to keep up. Sometimes for enjoyment and other times for education.
The journey of reading goes on...