2021 Slow Read - Thread to Discuss Our Options
I thought I'd bring up the subject of a slow read for 2021. For those who don't know, a 'slow read' is a shared read of a longer and often more in-depth work that we read a few chapters of at a time and discuss each week. We had two very successful slow reads is 2018 (The Lord of the Rings) and 2019 (The Book of the New Sun). Our 2020 effort (The Broken Earth Trilogy) was less successful, though, with the majority of respondents not really getting into it.
I'd like to see if there's interest in running a slow read in 2021. I personally quite enjoy the experience, and I think the weekly traffic at the site is beneficial.
Here are a few ideas I had (some of which have been floated before) - lets see if any of these appeal:
1. Dune, by Frank Herbert. The books is 896 pages (depending on edition) so it's a little shorter than others we've done, but too long for a monthly pick, in my opinion. It's an SF classic, and invariably in the top 5 on lists of best SF books ever published.
2. Titus Groan + Gormenghast, by Mervyn Peake,
These are also classics and among the very top of best fantasy novels ever written. These were a great inspiration to Michael Moorcock, among others. They are very well written and very imaginative, and the world of Gormenghast (essentially the innards of a very large, ancient, castle) is fairly rich in detail, which means there will be stuff for us to tease out, and maybe Easter eggs to find. The potential pitfall, in my view, is that these are fairly dark novels with an anti-hero at the center, but no real heroes. The two works are about 900 pages.
3. The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco.
This is one is on lists of the greatest books of the 20th century, or even among the greatest books ever written. However, it's only 512 pages long, so only good for half a year?
4. Codex 1962 by Sjon,
This is a trilogy by the critically acclaimed Icelandic author and described on the dust jacket as his 'epic 3-part masterpiece'. It's only 517 pages, but reviewers seem to suggest that it feels lengthy and is a bit of a workout - ideal for slow reading.
Cover blurb: Josef Löwe, the narrator, was born in 1962—the same year, the same moment even, as Sjón. Josef's story, however, stretches back decades in the form of Leo Löwe—a Jewish fugitive during World War II who has an affair with a maid in a German inn; together, they form a baby from a piece of clay. If the first volume is a love story, the second is a crime story: Löwe arrives in Iceland with the clay-baby inside a hatbox, only to be embroiled in a murder mystery—but by the end of the volume, his clay son has come to life. And in the final volume, set in present-day Reykjavík, Josef's story becomes science fiction as he crosses paths with the outlandish CEO of a biotech company (based closely on reality) who brings the story of genetics and genesis full circle. But the future, according to Sjón, is not so dark as it seems.
In CoDex 1962, Sjón has woven ancient and modern material and folklore and cosmic myths into a singular masterpiece—encompassing genre fiction, theology, expressionist film, comic strips, fortean studies, genetics, and, of course, the rich tradition of Icelandic storytelling.
I refer you to this review, which seems to offer a good summary: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2420353489?book_show_action=true&from_review_page=1
5. The Islanders + The Dream Archipelago + The Evidence, by Christopher Priest.
I've read the first two of these years ago and am reading the third, now. Each book stands alone, and the order in which they are read isn't really material. The Islanders is largely a gazetteer, a book that describes several of the islands in the Dream Archipelago and is interspersed with short stories set on some of them. The Dream Archipelago is just short stories that take place within the setting. The Evidence is a novel that takes place within the setting. These works are very inventive, the stories are... odd, and unsettling in ways that can be hard to describe. Together, these three work out to 966 pages.
6. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov
Also listed among the best SF ever written, this is a classic trilogy by one of the three fathers of SF. 679 Pages.
7. Dangerous Visions + Again, Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison,
A classic collection of groundbreaking SF short stories. This would be very different from reading a novel, but rewarding for the club, I think. I'm sure there would be lots of ideas to discuss each week. 592 + 790 pages, so that's longer than any anything we've done up to now, but doable within a year, I think.
8. The Sarantine Mosaic by Guy Gavriel Kay.
This comprises two novels: Sailing to Sarantium and Lord of Emperors, adding up to 953 pages. We did read one of his books before with only mixed success, and this book follows in the same vein of sitting on the fence between fantasy and historical fiction. This work is his masterpiece, as far as I'm concerned. It gives us a fantastic treatment of the story of Justinian, so I'm sure there's fodder for comparison in the discussion topics.
9. The Book That Shall Not be Named.
No point going there again, I don't think. I still think it would be great, though.
Please share your thoughts on the above. Got any others to add? Please suggest them below.