Books, Weekly Lists

Weekly Lists #174: Largest Books on My TBR

Also known as: the ones I procrastinate reading just because I’m intimidated by how long they are. Although I have to admit, I’ve been getting slightly better at this. Until recently, The Time Traveler’s Wife would have been part of these largest books on my TBR, as was – for actualy years – Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. I’m getting there, okay? I just need to survive these big boys first!

Sapiens – A Brief History of Humankind (498 pages)

100,000 years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens.

How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations and human rights; to trust money, books and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables and consumerism? And what will our world be like in the millennia to come?

In Sapiens, Dr Yuval Noah Harari spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the earth to the radical – and sometimes devastating – breakthroughs of the Cognitive, Agricultural and Scientific Revolutions. Drawing on insights from biology, anthropology, paleontology and economics, he explores how the currents of history have shaped our human societies, the animals and plants around us, and even our personalities. Have we become happier as history has unfolded? Can we ever free our behaviour from the heritage of our ancestors? And what, if anything, can we do to influence the course of the centuries to come?

You know when the shortest book in a list of progressively longer books is 498 pages? You’re in trouble. I got this book for Christmas this year, and while I do want to read it, I have to admit to being slightly intimidated by how many pages there are. It’ll probably be a matter of reading this one in bits and pieces, but still – 500 pages? That’s a lot! (Goodreads)

La serpe (643 pages)

One morning in October 1941, in a castle near Périgord, Henri Girard calls for help: that night, his father, aunt and the maid have been killed by a snake. He is the only survivor. All doors were closed, and there aren’t any signs of intrusion. Wasteful, arrogant, agressif, the young man is the only heir to the victims. Two days earlier, he has lent the weapon of the crime to the neighbours.

After a resounding trial (and disturbance by some aspects), he is acquitted and the investigation abandoned. While public opinion remains convinced of his guilt, Henri exiles himself to Venezuela. He returns to France in 1950 with the manuscript of Salary of Fear, written under the pseudonym Georges Arnaud.

Never will the mystery of the triple assassination of the castle of Escoire be cleared up, leaving a black and sulphurous halo to circle around Henri Girard up to the end of his life, which  was both complex and exemplary in many ways. Never – until a stubborn and meticulous writer got involved.

An incident as diabolical as this, a character as ambiguous as Henri Girard, could not leave Philippe Jaenada indifferent. Putting on an amateur inspector’s hat (completely crazy, but more sagacious than it seems), he immersed himself in the archives, reconstructed the investigation and unearthed the most tenuous clues to deliver us this story, the outcome of which could well solve a puzzle seventy-five years old.

Because, naturally, it’s not enough that a book counts an insane amount of pages – no, it also has to be in French. You know, for an extra bit of difficulty… (Goodreads)

The Romanovs (692 pages)

The Romanovs were the most successful dynasty of modern times, ruling a sixth of the world’s surface for three centuries. How did one family turn a war-ruined principality into the world’s greatest empire? And how did they lose it all?

This is the intimate story of twenty tsars and tsarinas, some touched by genius, some by madness, but all inspired by holy autocracy and imperial ambition. Simon Sebag Montefiore’s gripping chronicle reveals their secret world of unlimited power and ruthless empire-building, overshadowed by palace conspiracy, family rivalries, sexual decadence and wild extravagance, with a global cast of adventurers, courtesans, revolutionaries and poets, from Ivan the Terrible to Tolstoy and Pushkin, to Bismarck, Lincoln, Queen Victoria and Lenin.

History has a way of being both very interesting – and very long. So, while I honestly am very curious as for the exactae of the Romanovs? I’m also hugely intimidated by the lengthy of their reign 🙂 (Goodreads)

The Goldfinch (864 pages)

It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

This one has kind of a double layer of apprehension attached to it. Not only is it long, it’s also only second book by Donna Tartt. And while I absolutely loved The Secret History, I’ve heard more mixed reviews on this one. I mean, I will get to it – eventually – but I’m definitely hoping to lower my expectations a bit before then. You know… Just in case? (Goodreads)

The Pillars of the Earth (1083 pages)

In a time of civil war, famine and religious strife, there rises a magnificent Cathedral in Kingsbridge. Against this backdrop, lives entwine: Tom, the master builder, Aliena, the noblewoman, Philip, the prior of Kingsbridge, Jack, the artist in stone and Ellen, the woman from the forest who casts a curse. At once, this is a sensuous and enduring love story and an epic that shines with the fierce spirit of a passionate age.

A friend told me to read this and, from what she said, it does sound like the type of book I could really enjoy. However… However – it’s also over ONE THOUSAND pages long? I mean, that’s a serious time investment, you know! (Goodreads)

Have you read any of these books yet? Are there any you think I should definitely get to ASAP? Be sure to let me know below!

-Saar