I love big books and I cannot lie …
Have you ever been scared to pick up a big fat book because you’re knee-jerk reaction is going to be, “I’ll never finish this?” It’s time for an intervention.
Look, there’s nothing wrong with a quickie with a paperback from time to time. Sometimes you need that rush. But picking up what I like to call “investment pieces” are well worth your time and overdue fines at the library. I was thinking about this today after reading this spot-on piece by the Trib’s Steve Chapman. What if people passed up big books? Sure, there’s Chapman’s ode to Les Miserables—a book I’m not sure even I would take on. But I’m not even talking Tolstoy. What about the likes of Stephen King, John Irving, Walter Isaacson or David McCullough?
Diving into a great novel or piece of nonfiction should require the same level of commitment the author gave it in putting it forth to the world. Consider last year’s “In One Person”—what if Irving had skipped over an entire decade in Billy Abbott’s life? Or if Isaacson had left out Steve Jobs’ years at Next? Not knowing any better, readers may not miss anything, but don’t you feel richer for knowing the whole story?
Don’t get me wrong—I love those books I can kick back on a long weekend with and share with my friends on a Monday. My concern really is this—that the average reader considers anything over 300 words “long.” People, please—you’re missing out on some quality stuff!
And what does it say to your kids when you can’t commit to reading something longer than a James Patterson sobfest? If you’re not putting in the time and effort, why should they? It’s all about the modeling.
I agree with Chapman—for me, big books are an escape, a pleasure and gymnastics for the brain. From time to time, I want to be forced to think, to re-read, to remember, to follow a character arc. Here are a few of my favorites from the last 12 months or so—take the time, you won’t regret it: