OK, I confess! I’m supposed to be poring over Dubliners by James Joyce for my reading group, which is getting together — egad! — in less than a week. But instead, I’ve been slowly plowing through that door stopper of a book, The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. I know, I know. Literature vs. Marketplace and all that.
But hey, my brain is feeling a bit fried from all the revising I’m doing on my YA novel, so I’ve been going lit lite and picking up Ken instead of James at the end of the day, when I feel like rewarding myself with a nice sit-down and a book break. Here’s one of the big attraction of Pillars: It’s a chunky monkey! By that, I mean it’s more than 800 pages. So just about every day after my writing stint is over for some time now, I’ve been dipping into it.
This is one of the joys of a big, fat, juicy read: It’s always there, just waiting for you to come back and lose yourself in it. A fat book seems to welcome you into its pages differently than a skinny one does: It seems to say, “Hey, dear reader, Relax! There’s no need to rush. Your job is to pick me up whenever you can and my job is to unspool my story in a leisurely fashion and throw in everything you need to get lost in my world. Let’s spend some time together. Enjoy!”
I can see why our boy Ken found historical fiction so satisfying after turning out all those thrillers: Instead of action-packed plots, he had a chance to slow down and savor that ton of stuff he learned about cathedral building — and then use it to create a world peopled by characters he could develop over time — characters his readers could get to know and enjoy. What a delightful way to spend time as a writer! And what fun it is as a reader to look down and see that you still have a long way to go — lots of pages still unread. Write on!