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.


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  1. Thank you. I was considering this challenge and then getting a bit intimidated by some of the books on my list. But I loved Crytonomicon and have read it twice so I’ll change my perspective a little bit. Not that Histories by Herodotus will be quite the same, but if I can read 918 pages and not think twice about it, then certainly I can read 514 pages by Herodotus.

  2. Oh, the Histories was great! There are all these “facts” that Herodotus swears are true but that are really ridiculous, like fantasy animals and tribes of people with bizarre attributes.

    I think there’s a disadvantage to having a written TBR list, in that you can’t see the relative sizes of the different volumes next to one another the way you can with a physical stack.

  3. Have fun! I loved both “Bowling Alone” and “The Crimson Petal and the White”–so much show that neither of them seemed long!

  4. Hilarious! Citizen Reader and I were just reading each other’s blogs at the same time. 🙂

  5. I really liked Guns, Germs and Steel. I’ll be curious to see if you make it through this time! 🙂 Good luck with your list!


  6. Looks like fun! Guns, Germs, and Steel didn’t feel like a chunkster. And I had no idea A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was so long-that makes me want to read it even more!

  7. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is one of my favorites!

  8. Good luck! I look forward to your reaction to The Man without Qualities. It is my favorite of all time. I’m currently working on a “chunkster” of my own – Vanity Fair.

  9. “Vanity Fair” was awesome, too. I found it highly relevant to our society – some things never change!

  10. I loved Cryptonomicon and was so absorbed that I nearly missed my station on several occasions. I’ll be interested to know what you think of it.

  11. It looks like I’m going to have to replace “Bowling Alone” with something else, although I still plan to read it. Exclude the notes, and it’s under 400 pages – far too short to be a chunkster.

    I’d like to do Montaigne, but I seem to remember that books of essays are explicitly verboten. Maybe I’ll do Boswell’s “Life of Johnson.” I started it in high school but couldn’t finish it in the three weeks I had it checked out.

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