For Day 3 of the challenge, I thought I’d actually try the day 3 post – must be feeling conventional today 🙂
I was a little stumped on this one as I’ve not necessarily read lots of l-o-n-g books. Some certainly felt very long (you’ll see more on that when I post on Ulysses) and others are more complicated to read and so feel longer than they might actually be.
To help me with this post, I headed over to Amazon to check out the ‘official’ page lengths of some of the books that immediately sprang to mind as being my longest reads.
The first book I though of was Fingerprints of the Gods by Graham Hancock – mainly because I remember it being very ‘weighty’ every time I pulled it out from the bedside table to delve into another chapter (it is not the type of book you read in a single sitting). It also hurts a lot if you knock it off the bookshelf and it gets your toes – even in the paperback version I have!
The Blurb “Fingerprints of the Gods is the revolutionary rewrite of history that has persuaded millions of readers throughout the world to change their preconceptions about the history behind modern society. An intellectual detective story, this unique history book directs probing questions at orthodox history, presenting disturbing new evidence that historians have tried – but failed – to explain.
This groundbreaking evidence includes:Accurate ancient maps that show the world as it last looked during the Ice Age, thousands of years before any civilisation capable of making such maps is supposed to have existed; evidence of the devastating scientific and astronomical information encoded into prehistoric myths; the incredible feat of the construction of the great pyramids of Egypt and of megalithic temples on the Giza plateau; the mysterious astronomical alignments of the pyramids and the Great Sphinx; the antediluvian geology of the Sphinx; the megalithic temples of the Andes; the myths of Viracocha and Quetzalcoatl….”
This was an interesting, albeit quite intense, semi-non-fiction book (depending on if you agree with the evidence of the historical re-write and the connections made). I found it really interesting as research for creating my own fictional mythologies for a book series I’ve been dabbling with for several years – The Elementals – it gave me lots of ideas about how real myths and evidence can be turned to show a whole range of different possible explanations and world histories. Possibly not what the author intended, but that’s certainly how it was for me. But after all that, it only comes in at a measly 794 pages (according to Amazon).
There were a number of long books I tackled at uni, particularly on literary theory and criticism – one of the ones I enjoyed the most was the core text which introduced a range of approaches and schools of criticism: from Freud to Marx, Bakhtin to the masculine ‘gaze’ of cinema – there was a lot to get through in them. But, a cursory look at Amazon tells me that they hit a mere 587 pages – not as long as it seemed at the time!
To win this challenge, it had to be the heavy-weight of English literature… So, I just toddled off to the bookcase to check and, oh yes, at 2552 pages, the Complete Works of Shakespeare, by the RSC, with additional essays on each play MUST be the longest book I’ve ever read. Admittedly, it’s a single book, gathering together a number of smaller works, but I’m hoping for the sake of the challenge that it counts. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t read it in a weekend! I read several of the plays and essays at uni for the unavoidable Shakespeare module – the ever-popular Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth and Twelth Night all making the cut, as well as some of the less popular ones, which I actually found I enjoyed more: Titus Andronicus (any revenge story you read after this pales is comparison to the awful retributions that are thrown around in this play); Troilus and Cressida, and Coriolanus.
A few years ago I began reading the plays I hadn’t already covered, in the interest of being thorough as much as anything else – I read the rest of the history plays we hadn’t already covered: the ‘Richards’ were my favourites, esp. Richard II, if you like your kings to be drama queens 😉 I also did the sonnets, which I’d only ever read the ‘popular’ ones before.
So, although it took me around eight years to get through the entire book, I did manage it – and at 2552 pages has to ‘count’ as my longest book.