Weird_O's 2016 DOORSTOP CHALLENGE
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If you are like me, you have a daunting stack of literary behemoths making a shelf or two groan. Remembrance of Things Past (Proust), Anna Karenina (Tolstoy), Les Miserables (Hugo), Nicholas Nickleby (Dickens), Gone with the Wind (Mitchell), or A Suitable Boy (Vikram Seth). Though regarded as classics, you groan at the thought of actually reading them.
To push myself, I've come up with a two-part challenge, which I've dubbed my "Doorstop Challenge." A book can be used either of two ways to block a door open. If the book is bulky enough, you just drop it on the floor beside the door's edge. If it is slender, you wedge it beneath the door's bottom edge. So my challenge has two divisions: Dead Weight and Wedge.
…A dead weight doorstop, to me, is a book of at least 601 pages. My challenge to myself is to read one such book each month. I'm not going to commit to reading a particular book in a particular month. Neither am I going to hobble myself by picking only 12 books. Instead, I'm going to line up 15 titles at the start of the year. Each month, I'll grab an unread book off the shelf—whichever book appeals to me at that moment.
Some examples I have shelved but have avoided even starting:
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (1442 pages) (hc)
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (729 pages) (pbk)
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (945 pages) (mmp)
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (602 pages)(pbk)
To compensate for the high-bulk page-length of these dead weights and the extra time each takes to read, I'm going to pair each with a short book, one I can jam under the door edge as a stop.
…I figure a "wedge" is anything under 200 text pages—thus, 199 text pages or less. Such fiction pieces often are dubbed "novellas." Examples I have shelved:
The Awakening by Kate Chopin (178 pages)
The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan (108 pages)
The Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker (135 pages)
The Stranger by Albert Camus (123 pages)
Sula by Toni Morrison (174 pages)
For every dead weight book, I'll pick a wedge. I'm not going to pair them. Just pick one that appeals at the moment from the list's unread books.
So there it is: Weird_O's Doorstop Challenge Each month, I plan to read a dead weight and a wedge. I'm going to have a 15-book pool in each division to start, and the pool will diminish month-by-month until 12 have been read. The 3 left will be those that, well, I guess I just didn't want to read enough to, you know, read. I pretty much know what books are going on my two lists, but I'm going to commit in the new year, not now.
Join me if you like, in whatever configuration you like. Once a month, every other month, or quarterly… You know you want to!
There are a goodly number of chunksters on my shelves and it is about time I lightened the load somewhat. Will try to do twelve but a minimum of one per quarter. Here is my long-list of 15 following your plan:
1. Middlemarch by George Eliot (880 pages)
2. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky has long been on the shelves (824 pages)
3. Here Be Dragons by Sharon Penman (800 pages)
4. A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin (864 pages)
5. The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer (1056 pages)
6. Shantaram by David Gregory Roberts (933 pages)
7. Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell (925 pages)
8. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (843 pages)
9. Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay (793 pages)
10. Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon (760 pages)
11. The Discovery of Heaven by Harry Mulisch (730 pages)
12. Mary, Queen of Scots by Lady Antonia Fraser (691 pages)
13. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (637 pages)
14. East of Eden by John Steinbeck (602 pages)
15. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon (636 pages)
Eliot and Fraser fit my BAC challenge
Atwood fits the CAC challenge
Chabon & Steinbeck fit the AAC challenge
Mailer, Pynchon and McMurtry additionally fit the Pulitzer challenge
I have checked my catalogue spreadsheet of un-read books - I have 270 books on the shelves with more than 601 pages!
I don't think even this cool challenge can reel me in. I consider myself very proud if I ever finish a book which is over 500 pages. Which for this year equals *quick count* exactly 2 of the 60 books so far. Yikes.
But, if I were to participate, I think Lonesome Dove would be a strong contender, as would something by Dostoevsky.
And special thanks, Megan, for having and look and replying with candor. I've got Lonesome Dove and Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamozov on my (as yet undisclosed) doorstop list. Join for those two, why don't you?
I also mean to get to:
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (832 pages)
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts (944 pages)
Sacred Hunger by Barry Unsworth (640 pages)
Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess (656 pages)
I had also originally added Possession by A.S. Byatt, The Curse of Chalion and Fire From Heaven by Mary Renault to this list, but they are "only" 528 and 448 pages respectively, so don't qualify as doorstoppers according to your definition. Ah well! In my world, anything over 400 pages makes me hesitate as to whether I can or not fit it in, so they still count for me...