Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Climbing the literary Everest, and a "test your level of geekiness" poll

So I finally, finally, finally finished the Alexander Hamilton bio.  At 4 in the morning last night when I couldn't sleep and I had already watched my recording of The Good Wife.  I've been reading it since the beginning of August, but have only had snippets of time here and there, with the occasional plane ride that gave me a bigger chunk of uninterrupted reading opportunity.

And the book is huge.  But I didn't realize how huge, because I've been reading it on my Kindle, and the Kindle pages don't match up to actual pages, plus you can adjust the font and print size to your liking.  So all I knew was that a) it was amazingly written and researched; b) Hamilton was an extraordinary guy, and probably the most essential of the Founding Fathers, in terms of his ability to take the concepts underlying the Constitution and turn them into an actual working government; and c) it was taking me forever to plow through it.

Then when I went to DC for the Israel reunion, my parents had an actual physical copy of the book, and I was stunned.  It wasn't just 700+ pages, but 700+ big pages with teeny teeny tiny print.

Jesus, I thought.  No fucking wonder.

But I kept plugging, and finally finished it.

And somewhere along the way, came up with my latest uber-geek plan to read the history of the United States in order, by president.  I'm good with Adams and Jefferson (and a few others), but I've never read a biography of George Washington, so I was talking to my mom about looking for a good one.

Wouldn't you know, Ron Chernow just came out with an opus about George Washington.  And it's 900 fucking pages long.

"For God's sake!"  I said.  "I'm sure it's great.  He's an incredible writer.  But there has to be a worthy Washington biography in the 300 or 400 page range."

"But if you're going to be reading anyway, what difference does it make if it's a 900 page book or some other book?  My feeling is, I'm going to be reading something regardless, so I'd rather be reading something good, no matter how long it is."


"I mean, do you read for quality or quantity?  Would you rather read more books, or read better books?"

"Can't I do both?"  I wondered.  "I'd rather read really good books that don't take me a million years each, because then I can read more of them."

She laughed.  But it got me thinking.  Why was I so hung up on the length of the book, when I enjoyed it and was going to be reading something anyway?

What say all of you?

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