Jun 6, 2011

Going Small or Going Epic

Do read fat books or thin books?  The question’s a bit blunt, but you know what I’m talking about.  Every time we feel the satisfaction of having finished another book we turn to our metaphorical reading queue and begin to consider what we’ll want begin next.  Usually our bookshelf (or e-reader) contains a combination of books long and short, from a novella of barely one hundred pages to an epic tome with over a thousand.  The question is what kind of reader are you?  Do you prefer to jump in and out of shorter stories, almost like casually watching an episode or two on cable before turning your attention to something else, or do you hitch yourself to a saga and plow forward, determined to finish even if you take breaks or hiatuses in between?

I’ve tended to gravitate towards a bit of both and it really depends a lot on my mood (they say humans make decisions more emotionally then logically, so who would I be to argue?).  For awhile I was feeling nostalgic and wanted to read of some of Madeleine L'Engle's books I’d missed out on as a kid including “A Wrinkle in Time,” and as an adult reader one can usually whip through those quickly.  Lately though I’ve been feeling more long-term committal and have started working my way into Stephen King’s massive Dark Tower saga.  I’m on the first volume, “The Gunslinger” which reads more a like a prologue for grander adventures to come and you’ll have to check back with me in a couple months to see how I’m doing on the other 6 volumes.  Hopefully I’ll keep my commitment.

Overall, I think it really depends on the story you’re reading and the talents of the writer telling it.  Back in college I saw the "Fellowship of the Ring" and decided I was going to read Tolkien’s books before the two sequels were released.  Someone will bash me for saying this, but initially I found his writing style a bit wordy and for lack of a better word, “old,” but the more I pushed along, the more J.R.R. sucked me into his world, his characters and the story we was telling and as a result it’s now one of my favorites (although his use of language is still a bit heavy for me sometimes).  On the opposite end of the spectrum, sometimes one can have brief periods melancholy (does anyone even use that word anymore?) and someone like Japanese author Banana Yoshimoto fits the bill perfectly with her short story collections about young adults in modern Japan searching for meaning in their lives.  Like I said before, we’re emotional creatures and I’d be willing to bet that counts a lot for what we choose to read.

How about you?  Do you prefer long or epic stories, short stories or something in between?