Let’s be real, all of us love a good collective book post. So here’s one. Let me proudly present: the biggest books I read this year.
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell – 571 pages
I read this for #victober this year and the more I think about, the more I love it. It’s about a young middleclass woman, Margaret Hale, moving from a rural southern part of the UK to a town in the North bursting of industrialisation and a newly tormented working class, and it’s absolutely freaking brilliant.
The best Victorian book on class and industrial towns I’ve read so far. (Review here)
Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women by Susan Faludi – 594 pages
I don’t have a picture of this because it was a library book and, also, massively overdue when I finally finished it which certainly didn’t leave me with time for photographic efforts. It’s by far the biggest non-fiction I’ve read this year (and the only one that made this list…)
I’d go as far as to class this as a feminist classic, but a ridiculous one to just pick up as I did. It’s really big (and you feel the length even more with non-fiction, don’t you?), excessively dissects every single aspect it tackles and is very much a product of it’s time, packed full of popcultural references I just didn’t get. Still, I liked it a lot and am fascinated by her theory. Also, while I wouldn’t recommend it for that purpose, ever, it gave me a great overview of what feminism is about. And I’m so proud of pulling through.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling – both 607 pages
I didn’t include my reread of the Order of the Phoenix, because if I’d count Harry Potter rereads, this list would inevitably include Harry Potter 5, 6 and 7 every year and you don’t need to hear that annually, do you now. This year, however, these two count, because I genuinely read them for the first time in my life early this January.
No need to say anything about them though, is there? It’s Harry Potter, people. Obviously I adored it beyond measure.
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins – 632 pages
I’m going to be brief here because I gushed about this novel more than enough already here and here. It’s a hilarious and engaging Victorian crime novel centered around an enchanting, massive diamond – the moonstone – being stolen, and I liked it a lot. Great book to get into the Victorians, too.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon – 636 pages
Writing this, I realise how the biggest books I read this year also tend to be some of the greatest. Probably because I only pick up a 600-page-novel if I expect to adore it. This one, I was over the moon excited to read, and not disappointed in.
It’s about two cousins in New York City during WWII creating a series of graphic novels. It’s a wonderful book on escapism, art and war (and I say that as a non-lover of war-books…) and while it is quite the enterprise to read, it really rewards you with complex characters, an outbranched plot and wonderful language.
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville – 663 pages
Another one I wouldn’t hesitate to say I tackled as a challenge. I consciously picked this up in summer, when I knew I had a lot of time and afternoons in the park to spend reading so it wouldn’t amount to a dragging, monthlong annoyance – and still it took me more than two weeks. It’s definitely a book you need to get in the mindset for, there’s nothing to incline you to pick it back up besides the beautiful language, but oh my, the language makes it all up to you always. Literally delicious.
Can definitely see how this is a great American novel and one of the finest pieces of prose ever, but can also totally see how people hate it. Still, I’m glad to have read it, not just to have read it but also for the accumulation of on-point-words it is.
Arcadia by Iain Pears – 723 pages
The only book on this list (besides the Harry Potters. duh.) I can say of that I flew through. Had this with me on my summer trip to Poland and couldn’t put it down. It’s incredibly hard to put into words, so don’t expect me to be comprehensive here. Let’s just say, there’s time travel, fairy tale-esque adventures, a lot of meta reflection on writing and creating worlds and just generally the most twisted, heartwarming wonderful plot. So much love for this escape of a novel.
Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens – 754 pages (plus extra material)
Finally, by far and all measures ever the biggest book I’ve read this year. 754 pages of actual text plus 50 pages of appendix materials and comments plus a scholarly introduction, holy f**k.
Also, the first Dickens in my life, and did it make me want to read more. It’s funny to a point of being ridiculous, it’s so rich in characters and descriptions of miniscule circumstances and it made me so happy. Being the ∼800 page brick it is, and in addition having the tiniest life-ruining freakin’ font I’ve ever seen, this took me a long time to read. But I enjoyed every word of it and am so excited to pick up some more of Dickens’ work. Gotta fill this list for 2017, right?