The comedian Jim Gaffigan does a funny routine on reading:
Every now and then I’ll read a book, I’ll be so proud of myself, I’ll try and squeeze it into conversation. People will be like, “Hey Jim, how ya do-” “I read a book! Two hundred and fifty pages!” “That’s great, what was it about?” “No idea! Took me three years!”
I’ve been neglecting my blog because I’ve been writing like crazy. I’m at the threshold of 60,000 words. For context, The Grandfather Clock has about 66,000 words (200 pages.) This one is looking like it will be maybe 80,000 – 85,000. These stats might not mean much to a reader, but writers count words as milestones.
I have to be honest, as a reader I hesitate to pick up something that is too long. 500 pages sometimes worries me. It’s a big time investment, especially if the book is a clunker. I am not one of those people who forces myself to finish a book that I’m not enjoying. Life is too short. I’ll turn off a movie an hour in. I’ve left rock concerts (Chris Isaak and O.A.R. separately to be specific – too Elvis-impersonator-y / had sold their souls for slick radio sound, respectively.)
For the same reason, I find it very hard to get in to a television dramas. Unless I can binge the entire thing on Netflix, I can’t commit to caring about a show for the next 7 years. (I’m writing this while watching Mad Men.) My wife and I didn’t watch Breaking Bad until the final season was wrapping up, despite my brother insisting I watch it for half a decade.
So when I downloaded the audio book of Shantaram by David Gregory Roberts with plans to switch back and forth between the audio and paperback, I got nervous when it clocked in at over 40 hours. The file wouldn’t fit on my phone. Most audio books I “read” are 15 to 20 hours long and take 2-3 weeks for me to get through while I’m crisscrossing Florida roads in my day job. When my good friend brought me her copy of the book, I found out it was over 1,000 pages (12 years of reading for Mr. Gaffigan.) We’re in Gone With The Wind territory here. This thing better be good. And…
I am loving it. Savoring every word. It’s the sort of book that inspires me as a writer. Right now, I’m writing a much lighter thriller trilogy. When I’m done I will have three books that won’t be as long as one Shantaram.
Assuming you’ve already read The Grandfather Clock, and since the sequel isn’t ready, I suggest you pick up Shantaram. It’s the story of an Australian fugitive living in the slums of Bombay. I have to recommend the audio version because the reader, Humphrey Bower, does an amazing job with the many accents in the book. I looked him up and apparently he did the audio version of another of my favorite books (mentioned on my blog HERE), The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay.
And no, I’m receiving nothing from The Association of Great Australian Fiction for plugging these books. It’s a coincidence, but I do expect my blog stats to get a couple visits from Down Under. If you’re Australian, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell me 5 misconceptions Americans have about your countrymen and I’ll work it in to a blog post. We can teach Americans that you aren’t just The Wiggles*, Nicole Kidman and Crocodile Dundee.
Thanks for reading!
* We took our son to see The Wiggles and we stayed for the entire show.