01 September 2011

I don't believe in Peter Pan, Frankenstein or Superman

I've been reading for a very long time. I love to read. I always have something to read at hand. I'm lost if there isn't a book (or 4) or magazine or cereal box somewhere nearby.

So, I was amused to see 10 Novels That We Dare You to Finish this morning (via Pop Candy).

I've read (and finished) more on that list than I'd have expected.

I read War and Peace in high school, right after I finished Anna Karenina. I read both for my own pleasure and while it's true that you need a score card just to keep up with the names in War and Peace, it turned out to be a worthwhile read. Much better than Doctor Zhivago, which I read around the same time.

Remembrance of Things Past. Oh. My. God. I think I've read the whole thing, just not all at once, and definitely not willingly. I was a Comparative Literature major in college. Proust was French. Et voilĂ ! I read bunches of Proust. Oh, how I whined my way through Swann's Way in most Proustian fashion. I can't eat a madeleine without thinking of Proust. Probably, I should give Proust another chance. Sometimes it's transpired that later on I've found appreciation for something I loathed earlier in life. Okay. No.

I have not read Atlas Shrugged. I have read The Fountainhead. Best sleep aid ever.

I imagine that they must have included Gone With the Wind simply because it's more than 1,000 pages long. Trust me, it's the fastest thousand pages you'll ever read. The story never stops, the narrative is great and is very much a story of its time, but it's a very easy read. I thought for sure that War and Peace would hold the record for long book I'd read at the youngest age, but nope, it's GWTW. I read it when I was 12.

Cryptonomicon! Which I joked should have been called Cryptoyawnicon! I was trapped on the North Sea with this book! And I still got bored! It's very rare that I don't finish a book, and I still might try to finish this one. Sometimes, I'm just not in the mood. The North Sea can do that to you.

In any event, it would never occur to me to be scared off by a long book, which I think was sort of the gist of the list. I quite like long books--assuming they're worth reading--because they are similar to a long and pleasant meal or a good conversation that holds your interest. Both times that I was pregnant, I tended to turn to huge family sagas (Galsworthy's The Forsyte Saga was one, Delderfield's The Avenue another) because I found it comforting to return to the same characters and venues when I had time to read.

Now if the list was really into discouraging people from reading impenetrable books...well, that's another list entirely.

Go listen to some good music: "Bicycle Race" from the album Jazz by Queen. I have, of course, read Frankenstein, but not Peter Pan. Comic books and superheroes...well, they just never appealed to me, which some people find very surprising.

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