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This & That: A Few Tips for Reading Long Books
Hello and happy Tuesday!
In today’s newsletter I have some tips for reading long books, my favorite reads over 1,000 pages, and as always, some great links to peruse.
Let’s get right to it!
A Little Perseverance Goes a Long Way
As The Big Read started in on The Count of Monte Cristo this week, I got to thinking about how much I enjoy long books. The TikTok-ification of our culture means that reading a long book is a rebellious act of attentional immersion. Fear not the chonkers! Here are 5 tips for getting through the door-stopping tomes on your shelf.
1. Make a Plan and Set Small Goals
Setting achievable goals is the first step towards taming intimidating texts. Rather than viewing the book as a single mammoth task, break it down into smaller, digestible sections. Make a reading plan that suits your schedule, even if it’s just a few pages per day. This ensures consistent progress while preventing the book from becoming overwhelming.
2. Interact With the Text
Active engagement with the book can greatly enhance your understanding and retention. Try annotating, underlining key points, and making notes of your reflections in the margins. This fosters a dialogue between you and the book, allowing for deeper immersion and comprehension.
3. Just Keep Reading
In the middle of a slow or challenging chapter, it might be tempting to stop. But understanding often comes through reflection, after the fact. Just keep reading. Don’t worry too much about comprehension just yet; by the end, you’ll have caught far more than you initially thought.
4. Get an Edition You Enjoy
Your relationship with the book also extends to aesthetics. Finding an edition you appreciate can make the experience more enjoyable. Consider font size, page quality, and even the cover art. Old copies of books are often fun to display on a shelf, but tend to make for poor reading experiences. Modern fonts and typesettings are far more pleasant on the eyes.
5. Read with Other People!
Joining a book club or reading with friends can be an especially fun and engaging way to tackle lengthy books. Discussion allows for shared insights while the social aspect provides motivation. Plus, having a set schedule can help maintain a regular reading habit.
For a limited time, get 20% off an annual subscription to The Big Read. We have The Count of Monte Cristo and East of Eden on tap for the rest of this year; the books for 2024 haven’t been fully chosen yet, but definitely includes Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and possibly The Lord of the Rings.
The Mini-List: My Favorites Over 1,000 Pages
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo — The long diversions make this classic a strain at times, but it’s 100% worth the effort. Jean Valjean is one of the great memorable characters in all of literature.
The Stand by Stephen King — One of the all-time greats in the world of horror/apocalyptic stories. The story moves quickly enough to keep the pages turning without too much discipline required.
Master of the Senate by Robert Caro — Caro is sometimes dense, but his non-fiction storytelling about Lyndon Johnson’s life and times is unsurpassed. It’ll take some work, but I’ve never met someone who’s regretted reading Caro’s masterpiece.
📚 Though the French Open (tennis) was criminally under-televised in the states, we spent a good chunk of both Saturday and Sunday morning watching the finals. This piece from Joe Posnaski — easily one of my favorite sports writers — encapsulates the sometimes head-scratching wonder of men’s singles winner Novak Djokovic.
🎂 It’s summer birthday party season and we’ve landed on a great, affordable craft that we’ve been gifting left and right: aquabeads! Follow the pattern, spray some water, and minutes later you have a fun little creation that can be displayed, played with, or added to a keychain. This Mario kit is especially fun.
🌳 “The world is beautiful. People are good.” Take some time to read my favorite selection from this year’s batch of inspiring commencement speeches. Unlike much of what we see in the media these days, this essay is full of hope and optimism.
Thanks for reading! I really appreciate it.