When I was a kid, the local library held a summer reading program. You’d get little stickers for every book you read and once you’d filled up their sheet, you could get a prize.
Last summer, I read the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy. I did it together with a couple of friends and live-tweeted the experience. I wasn’t a huge fan of the books in the end but I did like having a summer reading goal. LOTR is 1,253 pages in total so this summer I thought I’d really go big or go home.
3,625 total pages.
First up is A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. Weighing in at 1,488 pages, it’s one of the longest novels in the English language. Set in post-partition India, it follows the efforts of Mrs. Rupa Mehra’s efforts to arrange a marriage for her youngest daughter, Lata, to a “suitable boy.” The 19-year-old university student wants to make her own decision about who she marries. I picked it up in a second-hand shop at the end of the last year.
The last work by famed Chilean novelist Roberto Bolaño, 2666, is a comparatively short 912 pages. It follows five loosely connected stories involving an elusive German author and the unsolved murders of some 300 women in the fictional Mexican border town of Santa Teresa ( based on Ciudad Juárez.) The number 2666 does not appear in the novel and it’s not clear what it refers to. I bought it when I was recently in London, though it’s been on my to-read list for a while. I may buddy read this with a friend so it might not get finished in the summer.
Finally, the Russian classic War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy’s work about the French invasion of Russia as told through five Russian aristocratic families. I am very sure I will hate it. My book club has selected it for our September edition so I will certainly not finish this before the end of September. It sits in the middle of my picks, at 1,225 pages.
My original plan for all of these was to also get them on Kindle so I didn’t have to lug the paper copies around but my library doesn’t have A Suitable Boy or 2666 available. I’m not sure I want to buy the ebooks as well, so perhaps I’ll end up taking A Suitable Boy with me on my holiday in a few weeks.