Earlier this week, I posted my review for Moby-Dick. That book clocks in at 688 pages. Yup. 688 pages.
So if you are thinking about tackling Anna Karenina or A Game of Thrones this summer, I have some tips for you.
1. Check your motives
Are you reading Great Expectations because you feel like you should or because you really adored Oliver Twist? If you are reading a book out of obligation instead of excitement, you are making it difficult for yourself right off of the bat.
2. It takes two...or three...or a big group
Look for a read-along. It's much easier to keep reading when you know that other people are in the same boat as you. Look online for readalongs, where readers from all over the world read the same book and discuss it (or commiserate about it!). I've seen (or participated in) readalongs on blogs like The Estella Society, Dolce Belezza, As The Crowe Flies and Reads, and Reading Rambo.
If you can't find one online, see if you can recruit your mom, husband, or best friend to read the book at the same time. That way, you will have someone to call and commiserate with when Melville wants to talk about whale anatomy again.
3. Find a buddy
I find that reading a giant book works best when paired with a lot of smaller books. So while I was trudging through Moby-Dick, I also read Frog Music and Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys. This works best when you pick books of wildly different subjects and styles. If you are reading a giant biography, try to read some great shorter novels. If you are working through War and Peace, grab some YA reads that preferably don't take place in Russia.
4. Set a minimum
When you start the book, find out how many pages it take you to really feel as if you are in the world of that story. That is the number of pages you need to try to read each day. When I read Moby-Dick, I tried my hardest to read at least 25 pages each day.
5. Start your day off right
Remember when I said that I read a lot of other books alongside Moby-Dick? I did read all of those books, but I read them later in the day. It's all too easy to get sucked into a story and never pick up your chunkster at all. So if you are a bedtime reader, start with your big read and then read the smaller book if you are still awake. Reading on your lunch break? Take the big book to lunch and read your second book at home that night.
6. Give yourself some grace
So you've read 100 pages of Infinite Jest and it's just not doing it for you. Perhaps Les Miserables is putting you to sleep instead of making you break out into song.
Let it go.
You are not a better reader (or person) because you have read Clarissa. I promise.
What are your tips for reading a crazy long book??