Friday, November 25, 2011

First Line Friday!

All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. 
-Leo Tolstoy, from Anna Karenina

If it’s the second part of Tolstoy’s famous opening that resonates with you on this long, holiday weekend with family, you may want to find a quiet place and bury your nose in a good book. Last weekend HTMLGIANT asked readers for their favorite short novels (120 pages or less), and their favorite long novels (500 pages or more).

Here are my suggestions short:
·         The Old Man and The Sea, by Hemingway
·         Candide, by Voltaire
·         Of Mice and Men, by Steinbeck
·         The Stranger, by Camus

…And long:
·         Grapes of Wrath, by Steinbeck
·         Crime and Punishment, by Dostoyevsky
·         2666, by Bolano

What are yours?


  1. I agree on Crime and Punishment, but for a long Steinbeck novel I prefer East Of Eden to Grapes of Wrath.

  2. Hi, I just found your site and I think I am going to love it. I am a bit of a Fitzgerald freak, so I would have to say The Great Gatsby. I am not sure if it is under 120 pages, but I don't think I would get any arguments that is isn't a short novel. I am drawing a blank on books over 500. I do like Steinbeck and liked both Grapes and East. But being a chick I am all about Jane as well (OK maybe less than 500 pages).

    I look forward to seeing more.
    -Laurie, a new follower

  3. @ Kyle: I have yet to read East of Eden, but it's definitely on the list.

    @ Laurie: Thanks for checking us out. My paperback Gatsby runs 182 pages, but they're some of the best 182 pages out there, bar none. To think he pulled that off at age 29 is sickening!

  4. East of Eden is solid. Very solid.

    MacEvoy . . . you've read Bolano's 2666? It's on my list. What are your thoughts?

  5. Phew! That would merit a giant post of its own. The short version goes like this:

    I loved the book.

    If you can make it through "The Part About The Crimes" - a 300+ page cataloging of gruesome rapes/murders that are talked about tangentially in the other 4 books (there are 5 books all rolled into one volume) then you will be amazed how Bolano holds your interest in his neverending off-the-wall minutia, character dreams, dead-end plot lines etc.

  6. The two long novels that I have been putting off reading until I feel I have the motivation/endurance to finish them are Moby Dick and Brothers Karamazov. What do y'all think about these if you have read them?

  7. I've never read either of them. I've always heard that Moby Dick is not a spectacular novel, though.

  8. I can't help you either, Kyle. Moby Dick was the first "classic" to meet me in Jr. High English. It was also my first experience in required reading avoidance. I have yet to go back and conquer it.

    But if you're looking for inspiration, you should check out this book first:

    As for The Bros K., I seem to recall Orlando lugging a copy of that book around Eastern Europe a few years back. Of course, he never talked about it, so he may just have been trying to impress us. :) If he ever reads this chain he can tell us all about it.