Himalayas of Literature

The Himalayas of Literature: a challenge

Do you have bucket list books that have languished on paper or in mental notes for longer than it would have taken to read the books – twice through?

On December 1st I posted an Instagram picture of my to-be-read (TBR) stack that included three of my ultimate books to conquer. I had read 75 books in 2018; my original goal was 52. To celebrate exceeding my goal I thought it would be interesting to tackle a few books that checked the challenging box.

But oddly enough, for the first time ever, I received some direct messages about my book choices that were less than kind or encouraging. It was strange and very unlike the typically supportive bookstagram community. I’m going to bypass that the messages were all from men because that’s not the point of this post – but, UGH.

A lovely Instagram follower noticed this stack and introduced me to an online course reading these and three other challenging books. Did you know that there is a term for this group of books?

I didn’t. I was buying Infinite Jest and Amazon suggested that they are frequently bought together and I wanted next day shipping for my book and magnetic bookmarks so into the cart they all went. Well played, Amazon.

These books are referred to as the Himalayas of Literature. I love ridiculous goals so here they are:

  1. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace – 1078 pages
  2. The Waves by Virginia Woolf – 297 pages
  3. The Recognitions by William Gaddis – 976 pages
  4. Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon – 776 pages
  5. Finnegans Wake by James Joyce – 628 pages
  6. 2666 by Robert Bolzano – 912 pages

This is a six course bundle that spans a year. I purchased the course and for what I get – commentary, essays, live discussions, and interactions with other readers – it will be well worth it.

A post like this is probably as good of a place as any to bury the fact that I am bored. I have a successful career in finance that spans 20 years but there is more. I know there has to be more. This isn’t a surprise to people who really know me but it feels good to write this. My hope is that this challenge helps me chart a course.

I also love a good book cover…

I love a good book that I can finish in a few sittings. But I know that to become a better writer, you have to be a better reader. The Himalayas of Literature seem like a great place to start so here goes.

I am certainly not forsaking great, current books; I just want to stretch myself. But I have to admit, after reading Infinite Jest all day, it was nice to pick up Nine Perfect Strangers that our book club is reading this month.

I don’t know how often I’ll blog about this journey because the books are long and involve discussions but it’s still nice to write about the direction I’m headed for 2019.

What are your reading goals for 2019? Do you have any writing goals as well?

3 Comments

  • Michael

    Interesting goal, and good luck as you start your journey! I’ve always wanted to read 2666, but the length’s deterred me. But The Waves is so moving—it really is Woolf’s masterpiece and one of the highpoints of 20th century lit.

  • bellawilfer7

    Some challenging reads! I hope you enjoy the online course – it seems quite expensive, fingers crossed it’s worth it 🙂
    The only book I’ve read on this list is “The Waves” – but I do want to read “Infinite Jest”. I’ve yet to meet a person who read the whole of “Finnegan’s Wake” – I mean I assume the person who lectured Joyce did, but apart from that… Good luck! Enjoy!

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