Get Lost in a Long Book

Most of us are staying home right now, and that’s a good thing. However, after a while the days can seem kind of long. Reading is a great way to spend those hours at home, and it’s a great distraction from what’s going on in the world, too.

Before the days of Goodreads, which challenges its members to set a reading goal each year, I was less concerned about the number of books I read in a year. I just read what I wanted to read, and if it took a month to read that book, so be it.

When I started doing the Goodreads challenge, I found myself choosing shorter books, just so I could have a higher number. That’s silly, because what’s the difference between reading five 200-page books and one 1,000-page book? I wish they would switch to counting the number of pages read, but they haven’t, so I have tried to change my perspective instead. In the past couple of years, I have set my goal lower in an attempt to get myself back into the mindset of reading what I want no matter how long it is.

I try to read at least one really long book every year. I find that, often, those long books end up being some of my favorites. My theory is that I become more invested in a longer book, because I spend more time living in it. It’s like being part of a different world for a while, and because I spend so much time with the characters, they become almost like friends.

The weather this week has been beautiful so far, but I see a change coming in the forecast for later this week. It would be a great time to settle in with a nice, long book and feel safe and cozy inside your own home. Maybe you want to give that book you’ve always meant to read a try?

If you’re looking for a long book to try, here are some of my favorites. I have included links to ebooks/eaudio when available. Please note that page counts may vary with different publications.

The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas (1,276 pages)

If you like action, “The Count of Monte Cristo” might be right for you. “The Count of Monte Cristo” follows the adventures of Edmond Dantes as he suffers through wrongful imprisonment, and plots his revenge. Despite its length, I don’t think anyone could accuse “The Count of Monte Cristo” of being slow.

Roots, Alex Haley (729 pages)

Alex Haley’s “Roots” is a multi-generational saga starting in Africa with a man named Kunta Kinte, who is kidnapped and brought to America, where he is sold as a slave. His descendants know him only as “The African.” It’s a compelling story, and is based on Haley’s own family.

The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt (771 pages)

“The Goldfinch” tells the story of Theodore Decker, who is at a museum with his mother when an explosion changes his life forever. I like this book so much I’ve read it twice (once as an audiobook), and there is also a movie, which came out last year. Tartt won the Pulitzer prize for “The Goldfinch” in 2014.

Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry (843 pages)

“Lonesome Dove,” the Pulitzer prizewinner by Larry McMurtry, is an epic western and love story. Like “The Count of Monte Cristo,” it’s packed with action. It’s also beautifully written, so don’t write it off just because you don’t normally read Westerns.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (782 pages)

If you are really looking for escape, look no further than “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.” This book follows two men – Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell – who set out to bring magic back to England. It’s weird and a great deal of fun.

Kristin Lavransdatter, Sigrid Undset (1,168 pages)

“Kristin Lavransdatter” is set in 14th-century Norway. I loved this book because I have some Norwegian ancestors, and it was interesting to see what life was like back then. It’s also very dramatic, as it follows the life of the title character. If you are looking for a happy ending, though, this is not the book for you. You’ll find the first part here if you want to give it a try.

David Copperfield, Charles Dickens (882 pages)

I’m reading “David Copperfield,” by Charles Dickens, right now. I read it a long time ago, and felt like rereading it. As with all Dickens characters, the title character has his share of misfortunes but perseveres.

What’s your favorite long book? If you have a favorite you think I would enjoy, I’d love some suggestions.

~Val

Stay at Home, Learn at Home

Today is my first day of working from home. I wanted to find a way to stay connected with all of you during this time, so I decided to start a blog. I am hoping to get one blog post written every day while I am working from home, and to keep it up once I am able to return to the library.

It is also the first day of Distance Learning for my daughter and other Tracy Area Public Schools students.

First, I just want to say what an amazing job our school did in putting together a Distance Learning plan in a very short amount of time, and a stressful time at that. Thank you, teachers, paras, support staff, and administration, for all you do for our children!

I don’t know whether I am blessed or cursed to have a child who was ready to start her distance learning at 6:30 a.m. Computer time is a great motivator for my daughter, and she knew that in order to have it, she needed to get her work done, and do it without complaining.

I appreciated her enthusiasm, but that meant she had completed most of her work by 8 a.m. She went off to have her computer time, as promised, while I sat down to do some work. When she was done, I found myself thinking…now what?

Last night I had set out a package of strawberry gelatin, thinking it would be a fun and easy “cooking” activity. As it turned out, it ended up being a great companion activity for one of the worksheets my daughter had completed. She is learning how to read a thermometer, and we talked about the temperature at which water freezes, and the temperature at which water boils. As we made the gelatin, we talked about the boiling water. Then, we made popsicles, using a recipe of our own invention (fruit juice and lemon-lime soda). It was just a coincidence that our snack-making tied in so well to the school assignment, but it is a great reminder of how we can learn from everyday activities.

I also asked my daughter to choose one topic each day that she would like to learn about. For today, she has chosen 3D printing. Tomorrow, she would like to learn more about Easter, specifically the symbols of the holiday such as Easter eggs. Now, I know a little about these topics, but I am no expert. I was able to find ebooks on Biblioboard (ebooks Minnesota), and hoopla Digital that we will read and learn from.

We are fortunate to have so many free digital resources that we can use during this time of at-home learning. If there are subjects you’re looking for information about, why not give some of these digital resources a try? You will find the links you need at the bottom of our home page. Please note that hoopla Digital is available only in Lyon County.

If you have questions about these digital resources, or anything else, please email me at vquist@plumcreeklibrary.net. I may not be at the library right now, but I am still here to help you in any way I can.

~Val