I like big books (and I cannot lie…). There are few things as satisfying as spending a month or more absorbed in other lives that you can fall into and out of as your real life permits. They become bigger than themselves – signposts of a time in your life that once was. Backpacking Poland in my twenties will forever be associated with the sweeping drama of A Suitable Boy, for example. So it makes sense that my New Year’s Resolution for 2013 centres on me reading some (or at least one) of those ‘big books’ left on my TBR list.
(Yes, this is an actual photo of what is known in our household as ‘the book pit’ – where all the books that follow me home patiently wait their turn. Unless they’re on my kindle, in which case they wait in cyberspace. Equally patiently.)
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
The story of a rivalry between two magicians set in England around the time of the Napoleonic Wars. How have I not already read this? No, seriously… how? Well, the pressure is on because the BBC recently announced plans to film it for TV and I certainly don’t want to watch it before I’ve read it. Do you?
Under Heaven, by Guy Gavriel Kay
Historical fiction and fantasy come together in this tale inspired by 8th century China. Before River of Stars, which picks up centuries after the events of Under Heaven, comes out this spring, I want to read the first book. (Like many of you, I just hate starting a series midway through.)
Parallel Stories, by Peter Nadas
It took 18 years to write and four years to translate this book; the stories of three interconnected men in Central Europe. Having waded through another of his books, A Book of Memories, I am certain this one will be a challenge, but a rewarding one. Even before it appeared on the New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2011 list, I was desperate to read this book. I have started it, but it and I have yet to have that click moment wherein I’m transported. I strongly feel like it could happen… maybe this coming year?
Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts
A convict escapes an Australian prison and heads to Bombay where he becomes involved in healing and the criminal underworld. Just as I was writing this, a customer walked by my computer and saw the cover of Shantaram up on the screen. “You have to read that!” he exclaimed, “It was so good it made me late for work a couple of times… and I didn’t care.”
Is there any recommendation better than that? Post your Big Book favourites below.
May your 2013 be filled with wondrous new worlds… if only when you read.