I don’t do a lot with New Year’s resolutions, but I do make a pile of five Big Books I want to read every year. I always have huge piles of books laying around in my house and there are always some big ones I just can’t get myself to read, because they’re so big. To make sure I read at least some of them, I make this list of five very Big Books I have to read in a year. So which books did I read this year?
- Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell. I always like to read a book before I see a movie, so I wanted to read this book for a long time but I just couldn’t find the time. But when one of my book clubs started reading this book, I had to read it. This book features several different styles of writing, and some take more time to read than others, so I was glad I took the time to read this book. Some parts I liked better, some I had a hard time getting through. Now I’m facing a new problem: I’ve read this book almost a year ago, and now I still haven’t seen the movie!
- Doctor Zhivago, by Boris Pasternak. When my boyfriend and I started dating, my mom told me to watch the movie of Doctor Zhivago. She told me that any man who can sit through that movie, is in it for the long run. So we sat through hours and hours of shots of trains in the snow (at least, that is how our teenage brains processed the movie), but we finished it! So my edition of Doctor Zhivago was staring at me for a few years now because I thought it would be as boring as the movie. I don’t like to say it but in this case I feel it’s true: the book is better than the movie. It was so exciting and moving and awesome! It’s part historical novel, part psychological, part poetry and part philosophical. It just brings everything together. And because it’s so amazing I finished the book in no time! I had absolutely no reason to be scared of this big two-volume edition! You can read more about his book in this post.
- The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas. A friend of mine is a huge fan of this book, but I didn’t like it that much. The story was okay, and it didn’t take as much time as I expected, but I just hated the characters. They were supposed to be these grand heroes but to me they felt just like four arrogant, childish frat boys. They have no respect for women, normal people, or human life in general. They are very easily triggered to make stupid decisions. I know some part is probably just the time it was written in, but that doesn’t excuse everything. I know several writers from that time or even older who wrote a lot more respectful.
- Ulysses, by James Joyce. By this time, I have read three Big Books that all took less time I expected. So I cleared my schedule a bit and I thought I would do this in a few weeks. Boy, was I wrong. Ulysses is definitely the most difficult book I’ve ever read and I would never have finished it if I hadn’t committed myself to this list so much. It took me ages and I feel like I still don’t understand everything. You can read more about this book in this previous post I wrote about it.
- Decamerone, by Boccaccio. I actually wanted to read The Count of Monte Cristo as my fifth Big Book, but I had to read the Decamerone for a class so I switched it. It’s really big, so I don’t know if I would recommend reading it from cover to cover, but it’s easily read in batches of ten stories. The stories are pretty diverse and I was surprised by the representation of certain groups in this book. For example, there are some rather strong women in this book, some good and some bad clergymen, and good and bad nobility, and everything in between. It truly acknowledges that people can do anything they want to do.my