(A lovely meme hosted by Booking Through Thursday. If you want to participate, clicking the image will take you through to the entry.)
What’s the largest, thickest, heaviest book you ever read? Was it because you had to? For pleasure? For school?
At 1,048 pages, Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind is by far the longest book I’ve ever read. I read it for the first time in 7th grade — and got a 95% on the Accelerated Reader test, boo-yah!
I enjoyed the book at the time, but I don’t think I understood it very well — there’s so much going on, plus I hadn’t yet learned a lot of the history behind the tale itself.
I read the book again in high school. I took it with me to school during the week or so that all the standardized testing was going on; I would inevitably finish my test and then would have to sit still for another three and a half hours — and a book was the perfect way to distract myself from that.
By then I understood a lot more, and came to realize that I absolutely despise Scarlett: she’s obnoxious, spoiled, and petty. And even once she does take control of her own life, and starts making her own money, she’s still pining after Ashley, that pale sap who won’t give her the time of day. It makes my Inner Feminist unhappy.
So it’s not my favorite, but Gone With the Wind is definitely worth reading (or skimming) at least once. Or you can watch the movie, if you can stand it.
What’s the biggest book you’ve ever read? Why were you reading it, and did you like it?
8 thoughts on “Booking Through Thursday: Heavy”
To this day I still haven’t read Gone with the Wind – but then if my school would have had an Accelerated Reader program … I probably would have … the whole story line never really appealed to me … I was never the girliest of girls. A lot of people though have read it and it makes me wonder if I should just read it once to say I did.
That’s one of my rules: Never read a book just because it’s popular or “because everyone else is doing it.” That said, you should avoid the book because you’re “not girly” — despite my focusing on it, there really is more to the story that Scarlett’s being obnoxious. She takes control of her own life during a time when women just didn’t do that sort of thing, and she’s the one who manages to keep her family together, even when the South is in a shambles during and after the Civil War. It’s also got a lot of history mixed in, which tempers the inanity of Scarlett.
The Pillars of The Earth @ 985 pages. When I started it I had my doubts that I would stick with such a tome. But before I knew it I was a hundred pages in, and then two, and then three . . . . and then I was done, just like that.
I remember seeing a copy of The Pillars of the Earth in the library at my elementary school. This is the same library from which I picked up Animal Farm and (a couple years later) Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. Looking back, I wonder what was going through the administrators’ minds when they stocked that library for a bunch of kindergarten through 6th graders! I’m not even sure what Pillars is about, even though I remember what the cover looked like, and I know I picked it up and read the synopsis.
I also read Gone With The WInd when I was in 7th grade, and have since read it more times than I’d like to count. But I zoomed through those 900 plus pages, like it was a Harlequin romance, rather than a chronicle of the Civil War.
Second to that, I read Anna Karenina. It’s only 840 or so pages, but I don’t know that skimming through Tolstoy is possible. From the moment I opened the book, I read it at a snail’s pail, studying the book like my life depended on it. Why did I read it? I heard it, along with Madame Bovary, were the greatest novels ever. I wanted to see if it was true, and though I see many other people in the blogosphere hate those two novels, I fell hard.
What makes Anna Karenina so amazing is that it is not just the story of one woman falling from grace. It is also about the implications for the people around her, who also have to deal with the fallout. It’s a novel of class, of society, of philosophy. It’s genius.
My next long read will more than likely be Middlemarch.
I’m kind of the opposite when it comes to Mitchell’s work: I skimmed most of the story involving Rhett and Scarlett, and felt like I got more from the history she included (although I read with interest the scene where he picks her up and takes her upstairs, and she doesn’t seem too happy about it…I don’t think I knew exactly what was supposed to be going on at that point). I bought Anna Karenina in a fit of good intentions several years back, and started reading — but I just couldn’t get into it. It’s on my list, though, and I’m sure I’ll get back to one of these days. It certainly sounds interesting at the moment, but I’m already backlogged on my reading list!
I remember reading The Hunchback of Notre Dame when I was in 6th or 7th grade, but it was way over my head. It’s not that long, but I guess most of the books I’m interested in reading aren’t that long.
I don’t think BOOK length has much to do with quality. You cited Animal Farm earlier. Slaughterhouse V is another pretty short book I remember reading.
But some of those long books aren’t really meant for children because the themes are very adult and usually beyond comprehension for a young mind. I was no prodigy to think that I would think that Hunchback was deep and meaningful. I just remember enjoying reading about the mob scenes the most. Those seemed the most gripping to me as a young reader.
The Barnes and Noble classic edition of Hunchback is 544 pages — not the longest book ever, but certainly not a short story. I’ve never read it, but it’s one of the favorite books of Adrian, a character in a book I was reading recently. Seems like there’s lots of action, and maybe a little romance and some social commentary/morality thrown in.
I think most people would agree that a reader gets different things from a book each time he or she reads it. You probably found the mob scenes the most compelling because you could understand the concepts: a large crowd, anger (as an emotion), etc. Some of the deeper themes just can’t be grasped by a kid. And that’s fine. You can always read it again…