This Wednesday’s topic is Books That Took You the Longest to Finish. Looking through my shelves, I was surprised by how many favourite novels of mine took a long time for me to read. And then there were the books I hated but somehow managed to finish. This week was definitely an enlightening topic!
Jack Maggs by Peter Carey
Time it took to read: 2 1/2 months
I first picked up this novel because it is a variation of Great Expectations but from the perspective of an Australian convict. As a fellow Australian, I was intrigued. I also love retellings and this postcolonial spin on a classic was something I had to read. It took me 2 and a half months before I finished Jack Maggs, not because it is a bad book (it’s not, it’s actually amazing) but because the writing was remnant of the Victorian prose. I have said before that Charles Dickens is a tough writer to read, and so a novel that emulated his style of writing was just as difficult to wrap my head around. If you’re going to read this novel, and I highly recommend that you do, you have to persevere through. It is well worth it.
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Time it took to read: 4 months
I had to read this novel for an English class at university. The semester began in September and I flicked through the pages, bored out of my mind but still determined to read this book because of its reputation as a classic. Cut to 12 weeks later at the end of the semester, and I still hadn’t finished The Catcher in the Rye, even though I managed to write a semi-decent essay on it. But, I was persistent and I actually finished reading the book in January 2014, during the summer holidays. Surprisingly, it has now become one of my favourite books of all time and a definite must read.
Bleak House by Charles Dickens
Time it took to read: 6 months
Bleak House is a behemoth of a novel. If you actually manage to get past the first chapter (which is about smog) it is actually pretty good. Bleak House was originally published in 20 monthly installments which contributes to the long-winded feel and lack of focus. There are long, rambling sentences about literally nothing, but once you delve into the deeper plot, it is quite interesting. It is definitely Dickens’s most ambitious piece of work, containing a vast and complex collection of minor characters within the sub-plot of the major story-line (seriously, you could kill someone with this book, it’s that heavy). I would only recommend this book to patient readers. I mean, the novel is about England’s longest running litigation in the Court of Chancery, Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce. If this description doesn’t interest you in the slightest, don’t even bother attempting the full novel.
The Odyssey by Homer
Time it took to read: 7 months
I love The Odyssey and have studied it four times, both during high school and at university. The first time I read it, it took me months to finish because despite how amazing it is, this epic is loooonnnng. The sentences frequently repeat themselves, which was a mnemonic device as the epic was originally spoken; even so, the repetition, the lengthy and unnecessary descriptions and (sometimes) dragging plotline resulted in a difficult read. It gets easier every time I read the book, but be prepared to be in for the long haul if you are going to attempt this beast.
Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
Time it took to read: 10 months
I kid you not, I had to read Fifty Shades of Grey for my Popular Fiction class at university. I started reading this novel during the summer holidays, because I like to be prepared for the coming semester. I can’t even begin to explain how difficult this was to read. If you have read any of my reviews, you know that the writing style can make or break a novel for me. And E.L. James’ writing was so bad it almost took me a year to finish this book. I threw this book against walls, I wrote in pen in it (which I never do), I crossed out massive chunks of text if I disagreed with it … the book was driving me mad, but because I was giving a presentation on it, I was forced to eventually finish it. I’m not even going to mention the problematic themes that border on abuse (honestly, I could write another essay here and now over how crappy a dominant Christian is). All I can say is that if you value your sanity, don’t read this book.
Which books took you the longest amount of time to finish? Let me know and get involved in T5W!