japaul22 joins the BFB challenge


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japaul22 joins the BFB challenge

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Jan 3, 2019, 8:06am

Hi everyone, I'm Jennifer and I usually enjoy really long books, but sometimes I put them off to reach other reading goals. Maybe this group will help me make time for them.

I'm not going to set a specific goal, I'll just track them here to add to the group total. Sounds like fun!

Jan 3, 2019, 8:11am

Welcome. Sounds like a plan!

Jan 3, 2019, 10:53am

Lovely to see you here!

Jan 3, 2019, 1:25pm

Welcome, Jennifer.

Jan 5, 2019, 9:58am

Hi everyone, I have two questions about how this group works.

1) Do we add our own page totals to the group's page count thread or do we just add them to our personal threads and someone else adds them up?

2) How do you all deal with page count differences between different editions? For instance, I'm reading Crime and Punishment right now. I'm reading a Folio Society edition with beautiful, big pages but it's only 512 pages. However, other editions I've checked on amazon or goodreads range from 600-750 pages. Do you only count the actual edition you read, or do you look for the typical amount of pages in other print copies? I'd really like to count it as it certainly FEELS like more than 600 pages!


Edited: Jan 5, 2019, 10:23am

We count the books we read. We don't count pages. Each book had to have more then 600 pages.

see: https://www.librarything.nl/topic/281093 for the 2018 thread and you can see how we did it.

In your own thread you can write and count what you want. Your rules for that.

Jan 6, 2019, 3:13pm

Welcome to the group Jennifer my dear, hope you have a good year with the BFB's.

Edited: Jan 7, 2019, 7:52pm

>5 japaul22: I have C&P lined up for later this year, and have a free download on my Kobo/ebook. I have sourced out various options on Chapters/Indigo online site, which I use frequently for research, not just for purchases. I select an option that I might normally buy, be it paperback or mass market or hardcover or even large print, illustrated or annotated, etc. according to my personal habits. I ran into that difficulty when I hopped on the BFB train in Aug/Sep2018 and cluttered up that poor thread with my questions, which Yells told me she had also raised. I had no thread of my own last year, and just added my books to the running list, in bulk, from Jan-Aug, then each as I read it. I noticed some titles others had posted with their page counts, like The Canterbury Tales, etc. and added another bulk set toward year end, which pushed me up and over ten to 12/13 I think. The difficulty with ebooks or audiobooks, is that I might do both together, to follow along the text with a 'coach' to keep me focused, which speeds me through the work more quickly than I otherwise might have, with the end-of-day droop.

Your copy sounds gorgeous and I cannot imagine this title under 600p. in any format. I would find a happy medium, something you're comfortable with. If I have a few on the cusp, I might pick one to add to the group list, and let one slide. Like I did for the '50Bks Challenge' group when joining last January, I wondered what to do with partially read books ... some started in the previous year but not finished were counted partially by members, some were all the previous year, some bumped the book to the new year. With three different options, I just chose to do what made the most sense to me. That's all any of us can do. I just want to keep my habits consistent from group to group, from year to year, so whatever I have started is what I will continue with. All the best for sorting out your own set of particulars. =)

I'm not sure if the group thread has a year end total or a running page count, but I plan to count up my own page count at year end, as I did in 2018, since I like surprise result, which keeps me honest and humble, since I cannot purposely select works to launch me over the high bar. It is a natural impulse to want to read, and what falls into my lap is an innocent result of overlapping authors and titles, of books and movies, of suggestions and my own inclinations. That is what fascinates me about keeping track, to see what intentions versus results manifest naturally. I like to see what others are up to, what about-faces they might have had from month to month, what took longer than expected, what they raced through. How to go from two books a month to one a week, then maybe double that again. How to tackle the intimidating works, or not ignore it because it's more than 200 years old. This is the group where it all melts together into one common cauldron with a final tasty but slightly frightening concoction! Never say never is what I'm learning, even for us mere mortals who are not teachers or librarians, who have no university degree or formal literary training. It is all there for all of us always. I might even try a series this year, which is something I have never done. LT and these many groups have opened my eyes, but I still want to approach it my way. I truly hope you find your reading grove and stick with it. Good luck!

ps- I tried to edit this waaay down but it makes less sense without the babble element...

Jan 7, 2019, 7:49pm

Found it. Post 96 in the 2018 Running Total thread for BigFatBooks Challenge Group. What constitutes a BFB, etc. That discussion might help (or might make it worse?). If you are more comfortable just posting the title and author without a page count, just do that. The only page count I might know by heart is Les Miserables. ; )

Edited: Jan 8, 2019, 9:44pm

I tend to use the librarything page total when in doubt. I read a lot of books in compilations (thanks Kindle) so it's hard to calculate page count. I just finished Crime and Punishment but didn't count it as it wasn't 600 pages as per LT. I wonder if we should look at the page count in the original language and go with that instead?

Edited: Jan 9, 2019, 8:08am

>10 Yells: I still can't seem to access that info, even though I'm a lifetime member now, thanks to the Hallowe'en Haunt treasure hunt. You said it's located to the left at the top under book details? I wonder if it's because I input my books manually... I wish there was a page estimate for audiobooks, but it really depends on the reader. You know, ten minutes equals so many pages? Nothing ever seems to be easy. I like hardcover large print, but can rarely afford them.

I found Jennifer and Danielle under the Club Read 2019 group, and starred both to follow your reading journeys, BFB or otherwise! Same with Bryan in 100 Book Challenge group. Fun to see the mix.

Edited: Jan 9, 2019, 2:23pm

Weird... I know you won't see it you til you add the book to your library but once added, you should see both a 'work' tab and 'book' tab.

Edited: Jan 9, 2019, 2:19pm

Weird indeed. When I click on Margaret Laurence works, the book details tab, all page numbers are there. When I do the same for Jean Vanier, same process, no page numbers. Nothing there for Poe/Bronte/Austen/Le Fanu either. Must be hit and miss in my collection. Thanks though, for clarifying this. My research can be annoying at times, stretching timelines to the brink. I just added Clarissa from the British Library list (to my wish list) as an experiment, and there was the page count of 1536p. Holy Hannah, what a book to pick! Now on my 2020/BFB list.

Edited: Jan 9, 2019, 2:57pm

Thanks for all of the replies to my questions! I think I've sort of settled on using the goodreads page count because that is the website I use to track my stats and page numbers for the entire year. For instance, they have a penguin classics edition of Crime and Punishment that pops up first that is listed as 621 pages. I love LT for many reasons, but I don't find the "book details" pages very accurate.

>11 frahealee: thank you for finding me in Club Read! I'm having a slow start to the reading year simply because I'm reading two "big books", Crime and Punishment and Mary Beard's SPQR, a history of Rome. I'm close to finishing those, though, so will have some thoughts shortly.

Jan 9, 2019, 3:19pm

>14 japaul22: You are providing me with a nostalgic glance back in time. I have three sons 15mos. apart, and I fondly remember the day when they liked the sound of my (reading) voice... ; ) All the best with the juggling act. I am starting with leftover gothics from last year; The Italian by Radcliffe, The Monk by Lewis, and Melmoth the Wanderer (Maturin), The Beetle by Marsh. Once I clear these away, I will source out a biggy!

Jan 13, 2019, 4:28pm

#1 SPQR by Mary Beard

Mary Beard has put together an intelligent, in depth, and readable book about at ancient Rome. She covers Rome's founding, the changing politics (predominance of the Senate shifting to the Emperors), some of the famous (or infamous!) characters, and also the lives of the middle and lower classes. She really gives a good overall picture of the empire - it's people, politics, and how it hung together for so long. I really liked how she didn't get bogged down in any one famous person.

I think this is one of those books that, while I won't remember all the specific details, it will inform my awareness of all things Roman. I really didn't know much going in, so it was great to get a better picture of this long-lasting and influential empire.

Definitely recommended.

Original publication date: 2015
Author’s nationality: British
Original language: English
Length: 608 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased paperback
Why I read this: interested in the topic

Edited: Jan 13, 2019, 4:31pm

>16 japaul22: Thanks for the review, this is one I want to read.

Jan 13, 2019, 5:18pm

>16 japaul22: Definitely on my list too - thanks for the review!

Mar 28, 2019, 5:06pm

#2 Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

I finally read this American classic and I loved it. I get why it is as popular as it is - great characters, interesting time period and setting, exciting plot - what's not to like? Well, I didn't love all the violence and I think the relations with Native Americans were certainly oversimplified. And I wished that I personally had more background on the Texas Rangers, as the two main characters had been Rangers and I don't know much about that time period. I gather there are prequels to this novel that cover some of that. For a Western, there were some decent women characters, which is sort of a rarity, so I appreciated that.

I think the greatness here really lies in the characters and the way McMurtry slowly reveals characteristics and relationships throughout the novel. Gus, Call, Lorena, Clara, Newt, Pea Eye, Deets - they are all unforgettable.

I'm betting most have already read this, but if not I definitely recommend it. Don't be put off by the page count - it really does read quickly.

Original publication date: 1985
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 864 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased kindle
Why I read this: group read, has been on my TBR for a long time

Apr 5, 2019, 12:14pm

#3 Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset, read by Erin Bennett

This was a reread for me that I listened to as an audiobook. I've been listening to this for months - it's 45 hours long! I also took some breaks to listen to other audiobooks and podcasts and such. I don't have a lot of tolerance for listening to audiobooks.

I liked the reader for this, but she has sort of a monotone delivery. At first I wasn't sure she'd work for me, but I stuck with it for a few hours and it really grew on me. I think she got the tone right, in the end.

When I read this the first time, in print, it was a 5 star read for me. I was blown away by Undset's ability to develop her characters over a lifetime, realistically having them stick with some of their faults and also showing how their experiences change them over time. And I loved the setting of medieval Norway and all the detail about life then. The historical side of this book is revealed through the plot, characters, etc. and is never approached as a side note - it's just part of the story.

The thing that grated on me this time around was the religious aspect of the book. I remember that from the first time, but I didn't remember that it was as detailed as it is. Maybe I skimmed over some of the sermonizing when I read this - not possible during an audiobook! So this didn't remain quite the 5 star read for me that it was the first time I read it, but I still love it and highly recommend it.

Original publication date: 1920-22
Author’s nationality: Norwegian
Original language: English
Length: 45 hours/1168 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: audible book
Why I read this: reread

Jun 5, 2019, 10:47am

#4 Tombland by C.J. Sansom

This is a continuation of Sansom's historical mystery series set in Tudor England. The main character is Matthew Shardlake, a lawyer who works for a string of high ranking people, royalty and such.

I enjoy these because of the historical setting. The mystery is usually sort of tangential to the history and that's ok with me. This particular installment wasn't my favorite because the focus was on civil war/strife between the landholders and the commoners. While it was interesting, I never love reading battle descriptions. I did like that is was set in Norwich, a place I've visited, so I could sort of picture what was happening with a better frame of reference.

This book was really long. As in 880 pages long. I imagine the author will start losing readers if they are all this long, but I will keep going with the series as it comes out.

I was interested to see that this was longlisted for a historical fiction prize. Goes along with what I was saying that though this series really started with a mystery genre feel, it's very much switch to historical fiction.

Original publication date: 2019
Author’s nationality: British
Original language: English
Length: 880 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased for kindle
Why I read this: reading the series

Jul 18, 2019, 8:24am

#5 Proust's Duchess by Caroline Weber

This dense nonfiction explores the lives of three women who Proust used as a composite to create his famous character, the Duchess of Guermantes, in In Search of Lost Time. Having recently read this novel, I knew I had to read this as soon as I saw it had been published.

The three women, Geneviève Bizet Straus, Laure de Chevigné, and Élisabeth Greffulhe, (I've shortened their names and titles significantly for convenience!) were staples of the French monde. They were known for their beauty and dominance of society. They were significantly different from each other, and Weber does a wonderful job of bringing them each to life separately. They do have things in common, such as loveless marriages, sometimes even abusive, and a shallowness that likely came with their focus on being popular. These traits were central to Proust's novel.

Geneviève Straus's first husband was the composer Bizet of Carmen fame. When he died young she never forgot him despite remarrying. She was an opium user, had a facial tick, and would often entertain in a comfortable but risque nightgown.

Laure de Chevigné was a descendant of the Marquis de Sade. She had an interesting way of speaking, using made up slang and also pursued typically male pursuits like hunting and putting herself in male circles.

Élisabeth Greffulhe was probably the most stereotypical example of a mondain superstar. She consistently made a splash at every ball with her eccentric and beautiful costumes. She gathered men to her, always having many men declaring love for her while she kept them at a distance. It seems she rarely if ever consummated any of these relationships, simply wanting the attention and adoration. She was a beauty, often compared to a swan and painted by many famous artists of the time.

Proust met these three in the order I've described them, at first being obsessed with meeting them and then becoming disillusioned with how boring he found their salons. Weber has written a book that strikes a great balance of describing these women and their lives with source material and also connecting them to Proust's famous novel as characters. She gets the balance between analyzing the book and separating these women from it just right.

I think this will mainly appeal to readers of In Search of Lost Time, but those who have an interest in the lives of high society women in early 1900 France might also be interested. I loved it.

Original publication date: 2018
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 715 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: library hardback
Why I read this: nonfiction relating to Proust

Nov 22, 2019, 8:04am

Well, it's been a while, but this one is why . . .

#6 Pilgrimage by Dorothy Richardson

Pilgrimage is a 13 volume, 2110 page novel published between 1915 and 1967. From what I’ve found it is currently out of print, but fairly easy to access through used copies of Virago Modern Classics which published the work in 4 volumes. Originally, each volume was published individually until Dimple Hill, the 12th volume. It and the final installment, March Moonlight, were only published in full volume sets.

Pilgrimage is highly autobiographical. It follows the interior thoughts and experiences of Miriam Henderson, a young woman starting out in the world. I believe it covers her life from about age 17-30. Miriam leaves her home when her family falls on hard times financially to become a teacher in Germany. She teaches in different locations for the first few novels and then becomes a secretary at a dental office in London. While in London, she truly finds her confidence in being an independent and single woman. She explores the city and finds a deep connection to the city itself. As the book progresses, she develops her skill as a writer, begins and ends relationships with several men, and travels, gaining a wide array of experience.

The plot in the novel is buried deep within Miriam’s experience. Her reactions and thoughts are always primary, sometimes (often) to the point that the plot is undiscernible. This can be frustrating. Characters come and go sometimes without introduction and even large life events aren’t spelled out. Both her mother’s death and her first sexual experience I had to go back pages later and say, wait - what???

As such, this is not an easy reading experience. The book meanders and definitely loses its way, especially, I felt, later in the work. I think that by about half way through these novels, Richardson knew NO ONE was reading anymore and was truly writing for herself. I wonder if anyone was editing at all. Also, the book is unfinished which feels frustrating at the end of 2000 pages. I’m not sure Richardson ever intended to stop writing Miriam’s life experience.

All that said, I still highly recommend reading this. I thought a lot of the writing and ideas were truly groundbreaking. I’ve never read anything quite like this, and I’ve read Proust, Woolf, Faulkner, some of Joyce so I did have plenty to compare it to as far as interior, stream of consciousness writing. At her best, Richardson writes beautifully and intelligently, with great insight into the female experience. There is a definite feminist slant to her writing. There are certain scenes (Miriam exploring London on bicycle) that I will never forget.

If I were to be honest, I think you can get an excellent feel for Richardson’s talent and importance by reading the first 4 novels in this series of 13. I recommend those without reservation. And if you are a completist like I am, then by all means, read the whole thing. But I definitely recommend trying this neglected novel. I think it deserves to be read.

Nov 22, 2019, 2:09pm

WOW, that is a big one!