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Mighty Tomes You Plan to Read... eventually

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message 1: by Jenny (Reading Envy) (last edited Aug 28, 2010 04:19PM) (new)

Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2828 comments Not necessarily of the sf genre.

I have made it through Les Miserables, Moby Dick, 2666, and Gravity's Rainbow (since Tamahome counts that one), but I have a bunch I still have my eye on. Some books are mighty tomes without being that lengthy, James Joyce comes to mind.

My shortlist:
Infinite Jest - I own it and everything, but a more well read friend has me convinced that I need to read the entire post-modern oeuvre before I'll "get it."
The Pillars of the Earth - I own this two, and with the series out it has been breathing down my neck to read. But I keep putting it off for shorter reads that I feel more interested in.
Ulysses - I have started this so many times, and I can only focus on it if I read it out loud.

A lot of the Great Russian novels are on my long list, and Proust. What is on your list?


message 2: by Tamahome (last edited Aug 15, 2010 07:35AM) (new)

Tamahome | 6041 comments Like I said, Gravity's Rainbow and Dhalgren, which I think both have 'magical' parts. If only they were audiobooks. How was Gravity's?

I've already plowed through Anathem and The Night's Dawn Trilogy.


message 3: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandikal) | 1212 comments I've been meaning to read The Stand for years. I keep hearing how good it is. It's not that I don't read huge books; it's just that this one surpasses huge.


message 4: by Halbot42 (new)

Halbot42 | 185 comments I gotta wonder if anyone has actually read Infinite Jest, its been holding up my bookshelf for like 10 years, given to me by someone else who hadnt read it. Pillars is great, gave me whole new appreciation for architecture and suffering, lots of suffering. Funny how much Stephenson there is here, Anathem and the Baroque cycle are on my read list but i keep finding new stuff instead. Ill throw out some of my favorite parts of these three to hopefully motivate
Snow Crash: Main character named Hiro Protagonist, who is a samurai sword wielding pizza delivery driver for the mafia. And thats like the first five pages
Fire Upon The Deep: Vinge creates a vision of the galactic internet that anticipates the whole blogging movement and the scariest computer virus of all time. Oh yeah did i mention a sentient species composed of the group intelligence of four or five space doggies
The Stand: Stephen King destroys the world with gusto. Make sure u read the unabridged one, like 450 more pages of great content, the introduction of Kings uber-villian, Randall Flagg, the walking dude, the man in black, who shows up again and again in the rest of King's work.
Now can someone give me something cool to look forward to in Anathem, i'm really struggling with this one, i flew throught crypto but this one doesn't have nearly the pacing.


message 5: by Joe (new)

Joe Deisler | 50 comments I too have Infinite Jest. I started it in May, I think, but stopped about 60 pages in because it didn't feel like a summer book and I just wasn't motivated to read it. I'm thinking of maybe picking it up again in the winter, so I won't have to reread any of it...but who knows.


message 6: by Kris (last edited Aug 15, 2010 05:47PM) (new)

Kris (kvolk) well besides the Baroque Cycle which i have failed at I would add Atlas Shrugged and The Gormenghast Novels: Titus Groan/Gormenghast/Titus Alone never got past page 100 on the last one...


message 7: by Sean (last edited Aug 15, 2010 07:40PM) (new)

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments As a big fan of classic horror, there are a bunch of Gothic novels that I want to read, but dear Ghu they're freakin' long -- Caleb Williams,Melmoth the Wanderer, The Mysteries of Udolpho, The Monk.


message 8: by Brian (new)

Brian A. | 47 comments Infinite Jest. Maybe I'll get around to it....everyone DOES seem to have it but no one's read it.

Other than that, Ulysses, The Baroque Cycle and I've always wanted to read these....Shogun, Noble House,Tai-Pan etc..

Gravity's Rainbow is great but it is a long read. It's very dense and challenging but worth it. I could see how Pynchon isn't for everyone but if you're into it he's real good.


message 9: by Tom (new)

Tom (fermionace) | 39 comments The Baroque Cycle and Cryptonomicon are on my list. The Baroque cycle has been taking up space on my bookshelf since Quicksilver was released. I did make it through Anathem, and I enjoyed it.


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2828 comments Here is an example of the writing in Gravity's Rainbow, and the reason I loved it and have been thinking of reading it again:
"You go from dream to dream inside me. You have passage to my last shabby corner, and there, among the debris, you've found life. I'm no longer sure which of all the words, images, dreams or ghosts are 'yours' and which are 'mine.' It's past sorting out. We're both being someone new now, someone incredible...."


message 11: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 6041 comments Halbot42 wrote: "I gotta wonder if anyone has actually read Infinite Jest, its been holding up my bookshelf for like 10 years, given to me by someone else who hadnt read it. Pillars is great, gave me whole new app..."

Molly Wood has. This review is NSFW. :)

http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...


message 12: by Philip (new)

Philip (heard03) | 383 comments Sandi wrote: "I've been meaning to read The Stand for years. I keep hearing how good it is. It's not that I don't read huge books; it's just that this one surpasses huge."

I can't recommend The Stand enough, King's best book in my opinion. I've read the print and listened to the audiobook as well. When it comes out digitally on audio I plan on listening to it again. I think it's a defining book of the post-apoc genre.


message 13: by Philip (last edited Aug 16, 2010 04:21PM) (new)

Philip (heard03) | 383 comments The Count of Monte Cristo and Moby-Dick I want to get to someday. Crime and Punishment is a classic tome I got through on the second go-round, and worth the while. I think audio is a great way to make it through these mammoth books.


Nice thread, Jenny.


message 14: by Jlawrence, S&L Moderator (new)

Jlawrence | 960 comments Mod
I've started Infinite Jest twice and put it down about a sixth of the way through both times, but I AM determined to finish it someday. There are many great flashes of brilliance and humor in it (the footnotes on imaginary filmography of the avant-garde-director father are worth the price of admission alone), but the breadth and totally wandering nature of narrative made it hard to stay focused.

Yes, those classics Moby-Dick, Ulysses, and Gravity's Rainbow are on my mammoth books to-read list as well. At least with Ulysses I have a companion volume that annotates all the references Joyce stuffed in there. Maybe if Infinite Jest had a similar companion guide...

Sword & Laser-ish mighty tomes I want to tackle include the The Gormenghast Novels: Titus Groan/Gormenghast/Titus Alone and Stephenson's Baroque Cycle.


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2828 comments I've done a readalong with some of these, in online communities, the latest one being 2666. These typically either target a certain number of pages per week, or in the cases of Les Mis and Moby Dick which are conveniently 365 chapters long, simply a chapter a day.

I like this idea, but I usually get fed up halfway through and finish early. :)


message 16: by Veronica, Supreme Sword (last edited Aug 17, 2010 04:23PM) (new)

Veronica Belmont (veronicabelmont) | 1660 comments Mod
For me it's The Baroque Cycle and Infinite Jest.


message 17: by [deleted user] (new)


message 18: by Scorpion12 (last edited Aug 18, 2010 05:47AM) (new)

Scorpion12 | 17 comments I've read Moby Dick... I think I was a freshman in high school then. It wasn't difficult to read as I like that sort of thing... I've since revisited it on my iPhone... it's amazing that a large tome of several hundred pages fits in my phone... it's still a great read.

I'd add War and Peace to the list as well for another book to read.

I've read Shogun but I don't remember much of it; I'll have to revisit that one as well.


message 19: by Al (new)

Al | 159 comments Jlawrence wrote: "Yes, those classics Moby-Dick, Ulysses, and Gravity's Rainbow are on my mammoth books to-read list as well.."

Not to cross-wire threads, after a number of attempts to read Moby Dick I found it on Books On Tape and it totally rocked in that format. The language and cadence was so rich that it was a joy from start to finish.


message 20: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Railey | 4 comments Wow, there are so many books I've avoided because of their length. I agree with many of the previous posts - The Stand is a definite must read (in truth, I think I might need to reread it). I've had a friend recommend Swan Song by Robert McCammon to me recently and it looks good. Pillars of the Earth and the last two Outlander books by Diana Galbadon are on my TBR stack. But, I have read The Passage this year so it might be a while before I tackle another huge book.


message 21: by Halbot42 (new)

Halbot42 | 185 comments having read both The Stand and Swan Song i would read the stand again first, swan song really seems almost like an homage to The Stand if you're feeling generous, or ripoff if you dont. If you love the stand you really need to read Dark Tower series, you get to find out where good ole RF came from, who he works for, and what he ultimately wants. Whole series is at least 3000 pages total so it defintely qualifies.


message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

Kate wrote: "Ever since I had a Shakespeare lit class more than ten years ago, I've said to myself that eventually I'd read more of his plays, but it's never happened. Unless you *must* read a play by a certain..."

I have to agree although I will add that it helps to hear plays rather than read. When I had to do Merchant and Hamlet I responded much better to the verbal or acted versions than the written.

I wonder if audible has them....


message 23: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Railey | 4 comments Oh, yeah, The Dark Tower series is on my list.


message 24: by Sean (new)

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments Renee wrote: "Kate wrote: "Ever since I had a Shakespeare lit class more than ten years ago, I've said to myself that eventually I'd read more of his plays, but it's never happened. Unless you *must* read a play..."

Librivox has a bunch of them.


message 25: by Halbot42 (new)

Halbot42 | 185 comments A trick i figured out to make Shakespeare more accessible to me was simply to read it out loud, it forced me to use the pentameter and with a little practice it all starts to make alot more sense, so im sure the audibles are good. Eventually i think Kenneth Branagh will get around to doing movies of all of them too.


message 26: by Peter (new)

Peter Hansen (ptrhansen) | 56 comments The rest of the Wheel of Time series (finished book 2 so far), have the Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson. And books 5-7 of the Dark Tower Series. The problem with the King's tower series was that I read the first four and then there a long time before the rest and life got in the way. One day I will get back to them. I guess it how RR Martin fans feel about the 5th in the Ice & Fire Series (which I why I am not reading beyond the first book until it is finished).


message 27: by Markt5660 (new)

Markt5660 | 39 comments Read it once but there's a new translation of War and Peace that critics are saying good things about. I also want to tackle (eventually) The Gormenghast Novels: Titus Groan/Gormenghast/Titus Alone and The Illuminatus! Trilogy: The Eye in the Pyramid/The Golden Apple/Leviathan. Seems I've got a thing for big books.


message 28: by Philip (new)

Philip (heard03) | 383 comments Oh yes, 2 mighty tomes I've listened to that I recommend are: The Renaissance and The Reformation by Will Durant. If you're a geek for history, they are good stuff. Dan Carlin of the Hardcore History podcast speaks very highly of Durant as a historian.


message 29: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 6041 comments Branden Sanderson's The Way of Kings audiobook clocks in at 46 hours. That seems long.


message 30: by Matthew (new)

Matthew | 2 comments I started reading Atlas Shrugged in paperback, but then got a Nook for my birthday and got distracted by the shiny so I haven't picked it back up. The eBook version is expensive and I can't bring myself to rebuy it. One of these days I'll finish Don Quixote as well.


message 31: by Brew (new)

Brew | 44 comments Ulysses is definitely one that I have been planning on trying to tackle, about three years now. I also want to believe I will eventually The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.


message 32: by Kate (new)

Kate O'Hanlon (kateohanlon) | 778 comments Considering I took a class on it, wrote an essay about it and got an English degree from the James Joyces's alma matar I really feel I ought to finish Ulysses one of these days.


message 33: by Trevor (last edited Aug 23, 2010 07:40PM) (new)

Trevor (saturdayplace) I had a Shakespeare class in high school (taught by the basketball coach, no less). Ever since then I've been intending to read more, but always concerned about my total lack of comprehension without someone to guide me. Then one day, while rummaging through my grandmother's endless bookshelves, I found an nifty little treasure: Asimov's Guide to Shakespeare (ISBN 0-517-26825-6).

Yes, that Asimov. Isaac. And his guide is interesting in that instead of trying to explain Elizabethan phrases to modern readers (which he leaves to other guides), he covers the historic, legendary, and mythological background assumed to be common knowledge among Shakespeare's educated cohorts but which modern folks have only a passing, if any, recollection of.

And yes, it's a mighty tome. Stacked on top of my copy of Sixteen Plays of Shakespeare, the two volumes represent a pile of words nearly 5 inches thick.

Someday...


message 34: by Kris (new)

Kris (kvolk) Trevor wrote: "I had a Shakespeare class in high school (taught by the basketball coach, no less). Ever since then I've been intending to read more, but always concerned about my total lack of comprehension witho..."

Now that is a mighty tome....


message 35: by Otto (new)

Otto (andrewlinke) | 110 comments Still need to finish Cryptonomicon.


message 36: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandikal) | 1212 comments I broke down and downloaded The Stand to my Nook. I still have a pristine mass-market paperback, but I just can't get going on it with all those pages staring at me. I'm doing much better with it in the ebook format.


message 37: by Rich (last edited Aug 25, 2010 01:50AM) (new)

Rich (shaggywookiee) | 2 comments War and Peace. I've downloaded it to my kindle but haven't started it yet.


message 38: by AndrewP (new)

AndrewP (andrewca) | 2441 comments If anyone is interested Anathem is available as a discount hard back or audio CD's from one of the big discount booksellers. I bought the audio book on 28 CD's for $9.95... couldn't resist $60 off the list price. Here's a link:

http://www.edwardrhamilton.com/titles...

Half way through and enjoying it very much!


message 39: by terpkristin (new)

terpkristin | 4111 comments Halbot42 wrote: "I gotta wonder if anyone has actually read Infinite Jest, its been holding up my bookshelf for like 10 years..."

I have!

I wanted to read it as a part of the "Infinite Summer" thing (http://infinitesummer.org/), but got derailed while re-reading the Wheel of Time series in anticipation of Sanderson's efforts. I ended up doing an "Infinite Spring" of my own, with a goal of reading about 15 pages a day. Though at first I found it somewhat difficult to get into, about 1/3 through, I started wanting to read a lot more than 15 pages at a time, and I ended up finishing with more than a month to spare (my goal had been to start on the first day of spring and finish before the first day of summer). I ended up really enjoying it.

It's funny, there are quite a few that people have mentioned that I've read (Anathem--not worth the time, Cryptonomicon and The Baroque Cycle--one of my favorite "series", Moby Dick, and Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell--another not worth the time in my opinion).

The only long tome on my current "to read" list is the Dark Tower series. I may have to look into Gravity's Rainbow, I'm not sure what it's about, but it might get added to the list, too. :)


message 40: by Paul (new)

Paul Crittenden (mophreo) | 20 comments Halbot42 wrote: "I gotta wonder if anyone has actually read Infinite Jest, its been holding up my bookshelf for like 10 years, given to me by someone else who hadnt read it..."

I finished it about three years ago. It took me a while, and I started and stopped it quite a few times before actually reading it all the way through. But let me tell you: it was totally worth it. Maybe my favorite book ever. Once I caught on to the trick (read each section as if it were its own self-contained short story) it wasn't a hard read actually.


message 41: by Al (new)

Al | 159 comments Thanks to this thread for getting me going on the Baroque Cycle. (PS, Point/counterpoint: I loved Anathem.)

Gravity's Rainbow is one of my favorite books (might be time to read it again, again.) I recommend reading it in smallish frequent chunks. I ended up doing that inadvertently but it proved to to be a great way to really enjoy it. It's all composed smallish episodic chunks and really shines when you approach them one by one. This is not a book to try an plow through.


message 42: by Sean (new)

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments terpkristin wrote: "I may have to look into Gravity's Rainbow, I'm not sure what it's about, but it might get added to the list, too. :)"

It's about a guy who can track V2 rockets with an, ahem, certain part of his anatomy. Really.

If you've never read Pynchon before, you should start with the more accessible and much shorter, The Crying of Lot 49, which is about a secret society bent on destroying the US Postal Service.


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2828 comments Sean wrote:

It's about a guy who can track V2 rockets with an, ahem, certain part of his anatomy. Really. "


Oh, is that what it is about? Hahaha, I need to read it again, clearly.


message 44: by Andrew (last edited Aug 27, 2010 02:30PM) (new)

Andrew Sandi wrote: "I've been meaning to read The Stand for years. I keep hearing how good it is. It's not that I don't read huge books; it's just that this one surpasses huge."

When I read The Stand I had a ratty (unabridged) paperback copy which I eventually ripped in half along to spine so it was easier to carry around with me. Read it, its great!

Also, I'm in the middle of reading "The Baroque Cycle" by Neil Stephenson which was on my list of epics to read, so I guess I am starting to check that one off.


message 45: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandikal) | 1212 comments Andrew, I downloaded it to my Nook. That makes it manageable. Unfortunately, it's not available on Audible or I would have done that. I listened to Under the Dome and it didn't seem huge at all.


message 46: by Paul (new)

Paul (paulcavanaugh) | 51 comments I am going to start (restart) WoT -- now that I know it will actually get finished. Thank you Brandon Sanderson. I even bought a dead-tree version of The Eye of the World. I stopped with that volume back in 1990 when I had this horrible fear the author might die before finishing. The series is long enough that it is sort of like being married. The main reason for trying it again is this group -- I hope all you fans are right! (and, I must admit, reading the paperback version is horribly inconvenient...)

For those above reading Moby Dick -- don't skip the how-whaling- works parts. This is the original techno-thriller -- with whaling as the tech. I read it (many years ago) on Cape Cod. A most excellent place to read it. Although any mixture of sand and water will probably work.

And, hey, Jenny, thread originator: Ulysses should definitely be read out loud. Guinness is called for. Get family and friends and read it together. A wonderful book. If you have any Irish blood, you'll all end up one evening "spitting into the fire and telling lies." On the other hand,
Finnegans Wake calls for something stronger.


message 47: by terpkristin (new)

terpkristin | 4111 comments Paul, you might want to start with New Spring. It's kind of a prequel of sorts, it tells the time of the fortelling of the birth of the dragon reborn, when Moiraine and Siuan were just Accepted, and tells the story of how Moiraine met and bonded Lan. I quite enjoyed it and think it gives some good backstory/intro.


message 48: by Paul (new)

Paul (paulcavanaugh) | 51 comments Okay, terpkristin, I'll try that. Although, blood and ashes, I'm into the Eye 150 pages...already like Lan and Moiraine... perhaps I'll shift into parallel mode...


message 49: by Bobbi (new)

Bobbi (blafferty) | 11 comments To all of you who have Pillars of the Earth and/or Cryptonomicon on your lists: Two of the best books I've ever read. Well worth the time.

My list (like apparently many others) includes Ulysses by Joyce, Brave New World by Huxley, and The Castle by Kafka (started it so many times ...).


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2828 comments Paul - I'm determined to get through it eventually. If it takes a group reading and Guiness, I'm in. Actually, that sounds like a fun way to read most books!

If you liked Joyce, have you read How Late It Was, How Late by James Kelman? Another one better read out loud because of the dialect, but fantastic.

I'm so hesitant to read Cryptonomicon. I loved Anathem, loved Snow Crash, but Quicksilver almost killed me (plus it kept mentioning Cryptonomicon, same book?). He sometimes writes in this self-congratulating tone that annoys the heck out of me. Okay, just in that book. But it was enough to make me never want to touch the other two. I don't like feeling stupid when I read!


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