Wednesday, January 18, 2012

On Chunksters, Or My Literary Nemeses

NEMESIS:  : a formidable and usually victorious rival or opponent

Yep. That just about says it. This post is an honest rant about chunksters. It's an admission of one of my readerly weaknesses. Are you ready? It's like book therapy, y'all.

First, how does one define a chunkster? Well, lemme tell you, it's a hell of a long book. As it was originally defined for the Chunkster Reading Challenge (which started several years ago and is still running) it's a book of 450 pages or more. Now, to some, 450 pages may be no big deal. A walk in the park. A piece of cake. Some other cliche. To me? Death and readerly destruction, people. 

My particular tendency to shy away from Chunksters is multi-faceted:

1. I feel like it takes me FOREVER to finish. With a hectic work/home life, I don't get that much time to read in a given day.
2. I'm something of a commitmentphobe, and if a Chunkster doesn't grab me by the nosehair at the very beginning, I will really never finish.
3. They're unwieldy and really hard to carry around in my cute Guess purse.

Bottom line: they take more commitment than a shorter book, and that just doesn't always work for me. As previously discussed, I'm a book tart.

On the flip side, I have enjoyed a slew of Chunksters in my time. When I had fewer time-sensitive responsibilities I had my nose in a Chunkster without a second thought. The Lord of the Rings? Why not! The Little Stranger? Yes, please! 

Now I run screaming from a 500+ page monster because it will bring my reading life to a complete halt. Nothing to blog about, nothing to Tweet about, except one. long. book.

And for me, this may be one of the downsides to blogging. I like to have books to blog about, and if it takes me three weeks to read one book, I'm at a loss. It's not a good excuse, and I really just realized this may be the actual reason I avoid the chunky monkeys, but it's true. Before I blogged about books, it didn't matter if I invested weeks into one novel. 

Because I realize this tendency of mine, I also try to face it head on. I read a couple of Chunksters in 2011 and I'm beginning 2012 with a book that borders on chunky (Wicked). I also have a buttload of other books on my shelves that I've wanted to read for a very long time that fall into the Chunkster category: Vanity Fair, A Suitable Boy, A Fine Balance, The Help, A Game of Thrones, and more. 

While I recognize my fear of Chunksters, I also have to admit that once I get into one, I typically enjoy them immensely. There's something about the breadth of a Chunkster and the epic feel that is ridonkulously satisfying. The author can indulge in description, and wonderful world-building, and invest time and finesse into characters in a way that many shorter works cannot. And it's with these positive attributes in mind that I VOW to read more Chunksters in 2012.

While I had every intention of joining The Chunkster Challenge in 2012, there's one leetle bitty rule that trips me up: no e-books. I am quite dependent on them for financial and logistical reasons, so I'm doing a personal Chunkster Challenge this year instead of the official -- though I loooove the hostesses and am following along with the challenge and The Chunky Book Club. If you have a similar inclination to tackle the heaping chunkies this year, I urge you to go on over and sign up. 

And now that I've virtually spilled my guts, I want to know about YOU. Do you shy away from longggggg books? Why or why not? What is your favorite Chunkster that you'd recommend that I try sooner than later?

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