Books, always being tricky

It’s common fact that we all judge books by their covers, but I know that I at least also make some pretty unfounded assumptions about a potential literary purchase based on its size. While I might be excited to dive into a lengthy tome if the subject interests me, it’s never one that I’ll expect to be “fun.” Small font, tissue-thin paper and a high page count might be impressive and I’ll probably feel a bit braggy for reading it in public, but the long, important looking books that end up being pulpy or zany or funny or really anything other than literary intellectual heavyweights are always a surprise.

I’ve talked before about being deceived by Donna Tartt’s The Secret History and I still think it’s the perfect example of a dull, yet intelligent looking book that turned out to be a completely engrossing, witty, darkly comic book about some crazy college kids that still reigns as one of my favorites today.

Publishers Weekly approached the topic with their announcement of the publication of A to ‘Zibaldone’, a collection of thoughts, musings and extrapolations from the notebooks of Gicomo Leopardi, who died way back in 1837. This tome weighs in at a whopping 2,500 pages and given the one line description, it’s definitely not something I would consider for completely pleasurable reading. However, the book is apparently incredibly engaging! PW calls is a “nightstand book rather than a doorstopper” and even recommends it as a possible beach read…providing you have the upper arm strength and bag room to lug it around.

The assumption of course goes the other way, too, as there are plenty of tiny books I’ve picked up on a whim only to find them impossible to get into or sometimes even understand.

How about you? Are you intimidated by a high page count? What books have surprised you by completely betraying the prejudice of their length?

One Response to Books, always being tricky

  1. D. C. DaCosta says:

    The first work that comes to mind is “Anna Karenina”. I was surprised that it interested me, and that it was so readable (esp. since it’s translated).

    I didn’t finish it, though — mostly because…it’s too darned long.

    It’s not the length per se: it’s that the author takes too long to say what we need to hear. Verbosity is not a flaw (read anything by Garrison Keillor) but using more words than necessary IS.

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