I’m a big fan of the books of Neal Stephenson, particularly ‘Cryptonomicon’ which is a fascinating exploration of cryptography within the format of a novel, it’s not short at over 900 pages, but it’s fabulously well written and to me, at least, was one of those ‘un-putdownable’ books, which stays long in the memory.
Stephenson followed this with his ‘Baroque Trilogy’, which I started when the first part ‘Quicksilver’ came out in paperback, back in 2004 or 5 I think. I wrote about the middle volume, ‘The Confusion’, back in November 2006 and if you read that entry you’ll maybe understand why I’ve had the final part ‘The System of the World’ sitting on a bookshelf ever since waiting for me to summon the energy to tackle it.
It is going to take a number of days to read, well over a week, maybe longer. This is an incredibly long time for me to spend reading one book, normally I get through a novel in about two days, some in much less time than that, either because they’re very light (like the Sharpe stories) or really gripping ( a lot of the best whodunnit crime novels). This is partly because I get up to 3 hours reading time a day, on the train, plus I nearly always try to read before I go to sleep because it helps to give my brain somewhere to go other than back over the events of the day (or into anticipation of tomorrows events). One of the things I enjoy most about this fast pace is the way I can mix-up the styles of books I read, either across genres from crime to sci-fi, to non-fiction to humour to biography; or just within one genre, the contrasting styles of Ed McBain and Peter Robinson’s police procedurals or the individuality of private investigators created by Robert Crais versus Reginald Hill or Liza Cody; etc.
So when I come to something big like the 886 pages that finish this trilogy I have to approach it with the foreknowledge that I’m not going to be able to read anything else for much longer than normal. Add to that a weeks holiday approaching without regular commutes and I could be in the company of Mr Stephenson for quite a while.