A while ago, I interviewed my readers for a change, and my final question was, “What question have I NOT asked at BTT that you’d love me to ask?” I got some great responses and will be picking out some of the questions from time to time to ask the rest of you. Like now.
Bookish Sarah asks:
What book took you the longest to read, and do you feel it was the content or just the length that made it so?
Oddly enough, there have been books that have a huge page-count that I’ve flown through (the expanded edition of The Stand for example), while there are others with a shorter page-count that have bogged me down for one reason or another (a lot of times it may be that a book fails to engage me fully in the first 100 or so pages. I tend to try and give any book I read at least 100 pages to grab me. Harder to do with a Kindle, so it’s now either 100 pages or 20%).
Thinking back to the years of assigned reading, I recall that it took me a long to wade through A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway. Part of it was the length of the book, part of it was that it required a bit more concentration and I felt like I needed the “ideal” circumstances to read and understand it (it was for an AP English class and I was going to be tested on it, so I felt like I needed to pick up every detail in case it was covered on a quiz or test) and a bit part of it was that it was an assigned reading book.
During my school career, I found that if I was assigned a book, I was less interested in it than if I chose to read it. I’ve never read Catcher in the Rye or To Kill a Mockingbird in a literary class setting, but sought out both on my own (my father was career military and we moved to different school districts where the ages for reading those books was different) and enjoyed them more. Whereas I was assigned Lord of the Flies as a freshman and despised every last second of it.
In fact, my distinct lack of love for Flies led me to dream of someday writing a great, literary novel that English teachers would gush over for years and in my will, leaving a note for a new preface. The preface would say, “Yeah, all that allegory, allusion and symbolism stuff English teachers say I deliberately put in here…not really. I never had any intention of putting that in there and now you all know that your English teacher is full of it!”
Yeah, I’ve kind of wandered off topic here….