Sunday, July 01, 2007

How the bricks fell


This is why I generally don't go in for reading challenges: because I fail! I won't commit to anything much unless my careful weighing of the situation shows the prospect of success to be likely, and even then, well, it seems I can still fail.

The Chunkster Challenge, hosted by Bookfoolery and Babble, was this: to read books of intimidating length, between January 1 and June 30, 2007, with "chunkster" defined as anything over 400 pages.

My self-inflicted variation of the challenge was to read 6 books of at least 600 pages. I named 5 books, reserving a few options for the 6th. Here's how I did:

Dickens, Charles: David Copperfield (pb, 750 p).
I read it, read it fast, thoroughly enjoyed it. Am currently mulling over which Dickens to set myelf for next winter (one a year is plenty, I think).

Powers, Richard: The Gold Bug Variations (pb, 639 p).
Read it, loved it. Quite possibly the best book I've ever read.

Wallace, David Foster: Infinite Jest (hc, 1079 p).
I started it, and it bored me. My bookmark is placed at page 85. I still intend to read it, as I still want to understand what all the fuss is about. But life events have not been conducive to my wallowing in a glut of postmodern nonsense. That'll have to wait a couple more months.

Dumas, Alexandre: The Count of Monte Cristo (1276 p, including notes).
Purchased. That's a step in the right direction. I made the mistake of thinking I'd warm up to it by reading a slimmer, recently released retranslation of Dumas (Georges). I haven't even gotten very far with that one, though I am picking away at it, and in combination with the swashbuckling tale I read last week (Purity of Blood, by Arturo Perez-Reverte), I'm building up a huge appetite for The Count. This will be my big summer read. I start next week. Or maybe the week after.

Stephenson, Neal: Quicksilver, The Baroque Cycle, Volume I (hc, 944 p).
Umm. I know where it is in my house. Along with the rest of the Cycle.

So that means I've read, uh, 2.

To my credit, I note the successful completion of the following "chunksters":
Mieville, China: Un Lun Dun (448 p).
Hamilton, Patrick: Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky (527 p), which is amazing. (Really. Amazing!)

Stroud, Jonathan: The Amulet of Samarkand (462 p), although I haven't exactly finished it, but I did pass page 400 yesterday, and I can't imagine being able to sleep tonight before I know how it ends.

Oh, never mind. I'm not sure about counting kids' books either.

But I'm willing to credit myself with half a challenge completed, even amid gruelling work contracts, and weird diseases, and the general upheaval of my life (why do I so desperately feel the need to justify myself?), and give myself the second half of the year to finish.

See how everyone else fared.
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