Too Big to Ignore Anymore

January 12, 2009 at 8:06 pm | Posted in Challenges | 11 Comments

Don’t you just love challenges?  The Chunkster Challenge is one that appeals to me because it’s something I’ve done on my own since I left high school.  I used to call them Big Fat Books.  The big difference is that I only used to challenge myself to read one.  Now, I have to do at least three!  (The rules are six books at 450 pages or more, or three at 750 pages or more, for the Mor-Book-ly Obese level).  I’m combining this with the TBR Challenge, in the special blend they’re calling Too Big to Ignore Anymore.

Now, if you know me, I can’t do anything in small measures.  So I’m going to challenge myself to read 12!  (I was thinking 25, but I couldn’t come up with that many truly huge books that had been lingering in my TBR stack).  This is one a month.  I’ll list them in order from shortest to longest.

  1. The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck (455).  I know, I know, why haven’t I read this yet???
  2. Guns, Germs, and Steel – Jared Diamond (480)
  3. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – Betty Smith (493)
  4. Sophie’s Choice – William Styron (515)
  5. Bowling Alone – Robert D. Putnam (541)
  6. The Mill on the Floss – George Eliot (704)
  7. Gravity’s Rainbow – Thomas Pynchon (760)
  8. Tristram Shandy – Laurence Sterne (832)
  9. Cryptonomicon – Neal Stephenson (918 )
  10. The Crimson Petal and the White – Michael Faber (944)
  11. The Recognitions – William Gaddis (976)
  12. The Man Without Qualities (2 vol). – Robert Musil (1824)

The Grapes of Wrath has been on my list since high school.  I think I was a junior when I tried to read it and couldn’t make it past page 6.  It’s probably been on my mental list longer than any other book, and I have this major mental block about reading it.  I also started Guns, Germs, and Steel and Bowling Alone shortly after they came out, and couldn’t make it through the introductions.  I actually planned to read The Man Without Qualities as my New Year’s Resolution for 2006, but it turns out my library only has the first volume!

The best news about this challenge is that the book I’ve put off reading the longest actually turns out to be the shortest of the bunch.  In fact, it barely qualifies as a Chunkster.  Hopefully that will encourage me to keep it in perspective and just read the darn thing, already.

“From A to X”

January 12, 2009 at 5:28 pm | Posted in Fiction | Leave a comment

From A to X, John Berger’s most recent work, appeared on the Booker Prize long list last year.  It’s an amazing work, and a rewarding read, especially considering its brevity.

From A to X is told in letters, undated and evidently out of chronological order.   The A is A’ida and the X is her lover, Xavier, a political prisoner.  The story that is revealed is slightly reminiscent of Griffin and Sabine, in that there’s a certain mystery behind what’s going on.  The political element mingled with a dab of whimsy and a touch of the erotic make for a very powerful blend.

Blog at
Entries and comments feeds.