Introducing the March Big Fat Book Readalong

by Sunita

At last, February is over. Of course, March isn’t looking that much better, weather-wise, but it has to be, right? Right? Spring officially starts in March. I keep telling myself that, while I prepare for snow and ice pellets starting tonight (up to 9 inches! Lucky us.).


Where was I? Oh yes, a readalong. Keishon and I were talking last month about wanting to read various books, and she decided to go for broke and bought Eleanor Catton’s Man Booker prize winner, The Luminaries. It weighs in at a hefty 848 pages, according to Amazon.

thebetrothedI was envious. I’ve been wanting to read a Big Fat Book, and I have several on my “To Read in 2014″ list. I decided I would join her, and I chose I Promessi Sposi, translated as The Betrothed in English, by Alessandro Manzoni. It was recommended to me last fall by an academic acquaintance because it’s a novel that features some really well depicted scenes of violent collective action. I am finishing a book on riots and writing a couple of papers as well, and he thought I might find it interesting. It’s apparently required reading in Italian schools, and some schoolchildren wind up reading it numerous times. The Goodreads reviews are hilarious. The first review, by Lorenzo, begins with the following sentence:

This novel is hated by many generations of Italians.

How could I resist?

At 648 pages, IPS isn’t as long as The Luminaries, but it’s 19thC Italian prose, so I think I should get extra credit. I actually own the Harvard Classics version but the translation is not great, so after reading samples from a couple of other translations and looking at critical discussions of them, I chose the translation by Archibald Colquhoun.  And guess what? That version is only available in print in an Everyman’s Library edition, and of course EL editions are hardbacks. So that should be interesting. I used to buy and read these editions in India; beautifully produced hardbacks of 19thC novels seemed appropriate there, especially for overland journeys. But I haven’t read a hardback book in months, and I will have to pack it into my carry-on-only luggage during two trips I’m taking over the next three weeks. I imagine swearing will be involved.

I’ll be posting my progress weekly and Keishon will chime in as well. She’ll probably finish way before I do despite her 200-page handicap, because she makes excellent use of her time, but that will give me incentive not to fade away.

If you feel like joining us, add your selection in the comments! It doesn’t have to be Big, or Fat, but it does have to be a Book (readalong, remember?). No cheating with the TV-miniseries of Lonesome Dove (which is awesome, but Not A Book).

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