AdviceArts and Culture

Big Books to Impress Strangers in Public

Updated: Aug 31, 2011 09:39
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After it was announced recently that Kindle books are outselling hardback books on Amazon, I knew it was only a matter of time before kids would start asking, what are those weird “liebarys” things and when are robots going to start doing my homework? Yes, we live in a digital age, but even while we’re conducting all of our personal business online and having our ta-ta’s scanned at the airport, people are still buying vinyl and glorifying typewriters and other ye-olde technology in the form of screen-printed tote bags. We’re addicted to newness, while at the same time clinging to a past we were never a part of.

Being a book-lover myself, I haven’t cross-over to the dark side just yet. E-books have their pro’s for sure. They’re both portable and discreet, so you can enjoy your Zane novels in peace. But they no longer allow me to spy and secretly judge what strangers are reading on public transit. And that is a crying shame. On the flip side, consider all of the pro’s of print books. They look great on a shelf, will make a great coaster in the future, handy for leveling furniture, and the especially heavy ones can be even wielded as a weapon in a pinch. You too can stave off a mugger with a nice sturdy copy of War & Peace.  So, if you want to feel intellectually superior on public transit, or work your wrist muscles or carry around a “weapon” of knowledge, here are some of the heaviest books around. And by heavy I mean, pure weight not literary density.

After receiving the much anticipated Mark Twain autobiography for Christmas this year, I was not prepared for the sure heft of this tome.  I thought I might even need a piece of furniture to hold this book, like a bible stand in a church, I could display near my entry and have guests look upon it-that kind of heft. Coming in at a cool 760 pages, this is only Volume 1 of Twain’s story. I mean how long did he even live for? I’ll be keeping a sharp eye for any passages that begin with “Dear Diary”.

Michener was a wordy sonavabitch, but after growing up in his hometown with museums and relics to him everywhere I’m pretty much meh on the subject. Plus if you ever had to endure “Hawaii” on audiotape on family road-trips, you’d be in running for the hills too. At 960 pages, he covers the island’s entire history from its first formation to all of it’s conquering inhabitants. Unless you’re a masochistic who dabbles in geology, do not take this book lightly. As one reviewer on GoodReads put it: ” I give it 4 stars and not 5 because the writing just isn’t that good, and getting through some of it is like walking through a field of molasses.”

I can’t think of another book that has such a unique reputation as Infinite Jest. Known for both its length (1079 pages) including extensive end-notes, and the combination of patience and intellectual-prowess it takes to slog through it, you’re not just reading a book when you take it into your hands. You’re making a statement. There are entire groups devoted to its dissection, and books on books on books on how to read it.  Its fans are rabid, it’s certainly one of those novels you either love or loathe. Like some sort of Tolkien novel, there are endless characters and notes to keep track of. All I can say is, if you’re gonna read it, be prepared to be approached by strangers who want to discuss “the work”, often.

Then of course, the sci-fi and fantasy fiction genre has never been known to skimp on detail. There’s a good helping of Anne Rice and Stephen King novels complete with embarrassing embossed covers with sexy witches on the cover. I think the Kindle was created for these people. Closet fans. Another honorable mention is the “Song of Ice & Fire” series, which just got optioned for an HBO series. I like to remind people of this fact after I quietly tuck away my copy of “Game of Thrones” with a fucking dragon on the cover.

So if you too enjoy a literary challenge, or are too broke to buy a Kindle, or even live in a tough neighborhood, here’s a helpful list to get you started, courtesy of Goodreads.

Photos Courtesy of: Subway Philosophy, Hey Incendiary

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Laura S - Spendthrift Scribe

Laura S - Spendthrift Scribe

Laura S, left the "sixth borough" three years ago to settle in Brooklyn. After working at some daily rags, she now does writing on the side but still eats more Ramen then necessary. When she's not moving residences every 6 months, eating her way through every neighborhood, and trying every microbrew known to man, she is unsuccessfully rediscovering home economics. With her binging days behind her, she's now exploring new projects and rediscovering the city that she loves (although is still prone to sliding on her knees during a Prince karaoke set).