The Summer "chunkster"

Friday, June 6, 2014

One of the tasks I look forward to every summer is planning my summer reading list. Some years, this has involved an actual list of quite a few books. Other years, it was replaced by a single book, usually a chunkster, and sometimes as a part of a readalong.

Let me take this opportunity to mention that I am yet to complete a summer reading plan successfully. Yep. A few years ago, I joined a readalong for Shantaram. I didn't get beyond a few chapters, though in my defense, the protagonist/author was very condescending towards the local peoples and that was irritating me to no end. The year after, it was the turn of Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy. This one was actually interesting and going well, but something that I don't remember any longer came up during that time and derailed my reading.

But that doesn't stop me from planning. There is a great feeling that accompanies making summer reading lists and plans, that for me, generally ends with the list making. This time again, I want to give a chunkster a go, but with a few changes to that concept. Rather than trying to tackle a book that I probably won't read even in my right mind, I'm hoping to pick something really riveting, light, fun, epic, and maybe even saga-ish. I definitely don't want to do intense or deep reads. The other change is that it doesn't have to be a single book. It can be a really long series. And I have a few books in mind.

One of them is the Song of Ice and Fire series, or better known as the Game of Thrones series. This would be a perfect candidate because I love the TV show, this is an epic and a saga, there are so many characters in here. What's not to love? Two things are however holding me back:
  1. I love the unpredictability of each TV episode as it comes, and I don't know if I'm prepared to give up all that thrill of anticipation. If I had read even one book in the series, I would have made a point of catching up with the books before watching the show. But since I haven't started yet, I feel more content sitting back and watching the show for now.
  2. The other issue is that only five books have been released so far. It's been a long time since I have spent years between series books. Waiting for the Harry Potter books was one thing - it didn't take long to reread them if needed. Rereading the GoT books is sure to be a humongous chore.

The other set of books I have been pondering is Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End. The premise of these books do not sound very exciting to me and I am not sure if this falls into my intense-read red flag. But many have loved and recommended these books, and they have been languishing on my shelves forever.

My third candidate is Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. Of my three options so far, this is the one that's most appealing to me. I love literary magic, and by that I mean books like Harry Potter and The Night Circus. Ever since I heard Sam rave about this book, especially in comparison to The Night Circus, which I loved, I have been meaning to read this book.

And since we are speaking of magic, my last choice is also magical - Lev Grossman's The Magicians series. Ever since the first of these books came out, this series has been on my must-read list. And now, with the third book slated for release in August, seems to be the perfect time to read it.

If you were me, which one would you choose?

If you have actually read all these books, which did you like best?

Oh, and if any of these books are in your wishlist too, do you want to join me in a readalong?


27 comments:

tanya (52 books or bust) said...

Planning is half the fun of summer reading, who cares if you stick with it? I've got to get my plan going soon...

Rachel Rooney said...

I've read all of your selections (except World Without End and the second Magicians book), and my favorite is probably Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. I have a love/hate relationship with George R. R. Martin at this point. I think I've finally gotten to a point where I could quit reading and just read the Wikis after the books are released and be okay. The introduction of a new seemingly major character in the 5th book was a huge turnoff. I found The Pillars of the Earth a little soapier than I like.

bermudaonion(Kathy) said...

I gave up on planning my reading a long time ago but it sure is fun to dream about all the books I want to tackle.

Nishita said...

Don't don't do A Song of Ice and Fire. You might end up like me racing through all the books and now frustrated because WOW seems nowhere close to getting out yet.


I didn't personally like Jonathan Strange and Mr.Norell much, but I think it might make a satisfying chunkster read.

Katherine Koba said...

I loved the hell out of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. It is quite the doorstopper but once you get into it, the pages fly by. Clarke put a lot of effort into creating a textured, rich, alternate reality with a substantive and believable system of magic. Lots of mythos and history created but never really shoehorned in.

Meanwhile I have ~issues~ with GRR Martin and have been, frankly, unimpressed with the dull, boilerplate writing style he uses.

ebookclassics said...

I feel your pain. I've thought about starting a series, especially GOT, but not sure if I want to commit to such massive books right now. Good luck making a decision!

Sam_TinyLibrary said...

I love love love Jonathan Strange and The Song of Ice and Fire series, so I vote for either of them! The TV show is getting to be quite different from the books, especially the most recent season, so I can't see it stopping you from enjoying the books.

Priscilla Walter said...

Jonathan Strange! Jonathan Strange! (Did I mention Johnathan Strange?!)

Athira / Aths said...

Yay! You said it right!

Athira / Aths said...

What you said about Martin's books seemed to be the way many others also seem to feel. That is surprising to me really, because I guess I assumed that everyone loved it by default. Well, it's good to know that because I think I'll stay with the TV show for now. I am curious though what the deal is about that major character in the 5th book. But I'll be good and patient. :-) So far, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell has been the popular one!

Athira / Aths said...

I know, right? I think I'll keep doing that too. I just love list making too much. I may not stick to the lists though.

Athira / Aths said...

I am leaning more towards Jonathan Strange right now, but I worry that it may turn out to be less like a chunkster read and more like a zippy fast weekend read. Oh well, we'll see. I have a feeling though that I may not be reading George Martin's series.

Athira / Aths said...

I have been hearing mostly good things about the Jonathan Strange book. So the scales are tilted in its favor. I'm so glad to hear you describe it as textured, rich and having plenty of myths and history and also, a believable system of magic. The way you describe it fits my idea of the ideal magic book. I think I am going to like it!

Athira / Aths said...

I hope you get to them soon! It looks like though, that I may be choosing to read Jonathan Strange instead. So many popular votes here!

Athira / Aths said...

Thank you! I like reading series, but I like to make sure beforehand that they are worth the effort.

Athira / Aths said...

I did listen to a few chapters of the first book, and I thought that was the same as in the TV show, word for word. But I did hear that lately, the TV show people have been deviating big time. Plus, I know some plot points had been changed in the previous season too. So yeah, I could probably read the books, but part of me wants to wait for the books to be completely out before embarking on it too. Oh well. I think I'll probably read the Jonathan Strange book for now.

Athira / Aths said...

:-) That's probably what I will read!

Jenny @ Reading the End said...

YOU SHOULD CHOOSE JONATHAN STRANGE & MR NORRELL PLEASE. I have reread that book a dozen times since it was published. I dream and dream of the day Susanna Clarke writes a second novel. And the good thing about JS&MN (I always say) is that you can tell from the first two chapters if you're going to like the book. If you find the first two chapters delightful, you will find the book delightful. If you think the first two chapters are unbearably affected, then you'll know it's not the book for you. You won't end up in a situation where you dedicate hours and hours to a book you end up hating.

PLUS, PLUS, they are having that BBC miniseries adaptation of it later this year! And once you have read the book you will be ready for the miniseries to happen!

Words for Worms said...

I haven't read all of these, but I'd like to chime in on behalf of The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End- I found them super engrossing. Not dense and chore-like. Really, I promise. Good stuff!

Athira / Aths said...

I am thrilled to hear that you have reread Jonathan Strange so many times already! That definitely makes me want to read it. Oh, and did you say miniseries? I am definitely on the Jonathan Strange boat now!

Athira / Aths said...

Oh that's great to hear! I love the idea of reading these books, but I didn't want something slow or dragging. It's good to know that these books are engrossing - they will definitely be read soon! :-)

Lisa Sheppard said...

I'm thinking the Lev Grossman series would be fun for the summer but then the Game of Thrones series would be fun as well. Those are some big books - maybe by the time you get through all five, Martin would finally have finished book six?

Lory @ Emerald City Book Revie said...

No question: Jonathan Strange. It's fantastic! It is a chunkster but if you get into it it's hard to stop, so it might end up as a weekend read depending on how much time you have. I started Pillars of the Earth and couldn't get through it; Game of Thrones does not sound appealing to me; and I really did not like the direction The Magicians took at the end.

Tanya Patrice said...

I wouldn't pick the George RR Martin series - because the 1st book in the series takes some time to get into it and since you said you wanted something light and fun - this wouldn't be it. Honestly, the tv show is just as awe-inspiring as the books (and even better in the case of season 2).

I also wouldn't go withe The Magicians, unless you can deal with a main character who's going to annoy you. The rest I haven't read.

Tanya Patrice
Girlxoxo.com

Rory O'Connor said...

I'd recommend the GRRM books. They're fun and the show is already in season four, so unless you read them super fast, you probably wouldn't catch up. I think there are also enough differences to keep it interesting.

Helen Murdoch said...

the summer chunkster. I did the Shantaram challenge with you and actually finished the book. I don't think I need to do that again; I like the idea of a fun and light chunkster much more than a serious one! I've checked out 8 YA novels to start off my summer

literaryfeline said...

Someday I would like to get back to the Song of Ice and Fire series. I read and loved the first book. I just haven't made my way back to the series yet.

I really liked The Pillars of the Earth when I read it. I never read the follow-up and can't say I plan to.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell was such a delicious read! It's one of my husband's favorites and I'm quite fond of it too.

I haven't read Lev Grossman's books but I do want to at some point.

Good luck choosing!