It took me 7 months to read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. The Goodreads log indicates that it was “Read from 4 February 2013 to 22 August, 2013”. The physical book is almost 1,300 pages long. It was a monumental task and it took its toll on me to be honest. Granted, i was reading other (very short) books at the same time whenever i needed a break but the time logged is more or less accurate.
A couple of weeks ago i read this post, In the Whirled: Summer’s a great time for slow books, where the author claims that summer is the best time not for the easy going, page turners but for the more demanding books instead.
My summer goal is in direct contrast to what we typically think of as the “beach read,” those stories light and insubstantial as cotton candy. The beach read is quick, superficial and flimsy enough that we don’t care about lodging sand and seashells between its pages.
There is certainly a place for the beach read, but summer seems a perfect space for the patience and quiet that must be given to slower books. Unharried by school schedules, we have the time to make our way through the meandering stories of old.
Even though i don’t have to concern myself with “school schedules” at any time of the year i’m going to have the same summer goal as her. She was talking about fiction but i’m going to apply it to non-fiction.
I was between two options broadly covering the same topic, oil.
The “short” one was Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power (704 pages) by Steve Coll, the writer of the brilliant Ghost Wars: History of the CIA, Afghanistan and Bin Laden from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2011. The sample i read also indicated that the writing style would also be more accessible than my second option.
In the end i went with the more challenging second book, The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Power and Money (928 pages) by Daniel Yergin. This one approaches the subject of oil from a more global perspective although still with a US centric view.
At the same time, i’m going to complement this book with the children books i’m reading with my niece. So, i will still have my breaks.
With the e-reader the logistics of carrying around and reading this kind of book become irrelevant so i’m curious to see how this turns out in the end. Could summer really be the best time for longer, slower books? I’m about to find out.