I like big books and I cannot lie

Cover of Into the Wilderness“I’ve chosen the book for August” the email said, “It’s Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati

With tablet in hand, and the bing-bong of the email hitting my inbox still ringing in the air, I searched the catalogue to place a hold. I started reading the comments…

Fans of “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon will enjoy this series…

and

As a huge fan of the Outlander series I was so happy to find this book…

were top of the list. *Sigh* I hated the Outlander series!

A few days later, the book turns up–all 876 pages of it. …Mutter, mutter…fat books…never reads anyone else’s choice…gets us to read a blimmin’ 900 page book…*groan*…

Cover of The Memoirs of CleopatraNeedless to say, I wasn’t looking forward to reading this big, fat, Outlander-esque  book for my book-club. I used to like fat books. A good, long read that would keep you going for weeks — so long you’d have to take it out three times maybe, like I did when I read Memoirs of Cleopatra. Books with plenty of pithy plot and scope for real character development. Books so heavy that reading in bed is a real workout.

But then I had kids,  and got a job* too, and life just got too busy for fat books.

I turned the book over in my hands. Just because the cover is emblazoned with Diana Gabladon’s words of praise, that doesn’t mean I’ll hate it, right? Just because Outlander fans love it, that doesn’t mean I won’t enjoy it.  Better not put off starting too long, or I’ll never get it finished in time. I cracked it open.

Cover of The Gilded HourAnd I started to enjoy it. Right from the first chapter. Elizabeth was just a great character, so feisty! I couldn’t help but like her. And that was the general feeling from my book group too.  We (almost) all managed to (almost) finish it, despite the 876 pages. And we all quite liked it, though most of us aren’t going to rush out and read the rest of the series.

This morning, a bright, shiny new copy of The Gilded Hour arrived here at Spreydon Library for a hold, and I think I’ll add myself to the hold list.

I might even read the rest of the Wilderness series. Maybe. After all, once upon a time, I liked big books, and I cannot lie.

I put together a list of some of my favourite big books, perhaps you’ll like them too, they’re definitely worth the effort!

If you (unlike me) like Diana Gabaldon, you might like this If you like… list

Do you like fat books, or do you prefer a slim read?  do you have a fat book to recommend?

*At the library. I know, ironic right? No time to read fat books now that I work at the library

Outlandish kilt addiction

Cover of OutlanderThe things you find when trawling through the library catalogue.

I was just trying to fill the hole that the conclusion of the first season of the Outlander TV series, based on the books by Diana Gabaldon, had left in my leisure time.

I found a blog post about the source novels, and an If you like… Diana Gabaldon book list. It seemed I wouldn’t have to wait until the next series to get some more 18th century kilted historical-time-travel-romance in my life. Very good.

But then I idly went searching to see if we had any copies of Highlander (either the movie, or the TV series) and shove me in a sheep’s gut and call me haggis, I stumbled upon… a bunch of shirtless kilt-wearing cover-boys. And not just a couple, but legions of them. Well hello, Jamie Fraser!

It must have been warmer in Scotland in days of yore if this lack of upper body garments is anything to go by. Will ye nae put a vest on, lad?

After rigorous research I can confirm that covers in this particular genre fall in to three categories in which the muscular hero can be –

holding a lady,
Cover of Rogue with a brogueCover of Mad, bad, and dangerous in plaidCover of to marry a scottish lairdCover of In bed with a highlanderCover of Never seduce a Scot

holding a sword, either pointy side up…
Cover of To wed a wicked highlanderCover of The chieftainCover of Sins of the highlanderCover of The guardian

…or down,
Cover of Temptation in a kiltCover of The stone maidenCover of Moon awakeningCover of The hellion and the highlander

or at least, wearing some kind of armband (face optional).
Cover of awaken the highland warriorCover of The immortal highlanderCover of The dark highlanderCover of Sweet revenge

And am I allowed to say that some of the titles are AMAZING? For my money Mad, bad and dangerous in plaid is a standout, though Temptation in a kilt must surely get an honorable mention.

You’ll be pleased to know that almost all of these titles are available in eBook format, possibly as a result of the “embarrassment factor” that does apparently influence choice of format for recreational reading. Though why you’d be whakamā about reading In bed with a highlander on the bus, I can’t imagine (okay, yes I can).

Which of the above is your favourite Caledonian cover-boy?

Jamie and Claire again!

Diana Gabaldon created quite a stir in the 1990s with the publication of the first volumes of the Outlander series, which blended time travel, historical fiction and romance – so much so that what had been originally planned to be a trilogy has grown to a 7-volume series, with at least one more book to come.

The first 3 books (Outlander/Cross Stitch, Dragonfly in Amber and Voyager), which were mostly set in Scotland in the period prior to and after the Battle of Culloden, where Bonnie Prince Charlie’s dreams of capturing the British throne were thwarted, were undeniably the most popular.

Cover of An echo in the bone.
An Echo in the Bone

However, while some readers fell by the wayside with the shift of scene from Scotland to America, many New Zealanders remain faithful to the books’ hero and heroine, Jamie and Claire Fraser, if the number of holds on the latest book in the series, An Echo in the Bone, is anything to go by (I started out at number 147 and am now number 98). In fact the book is currently number 2 in the NZ Bestseller lists, just behind Dan Brown’s latest offering.

If you are one of the people who has already managed to get their hands on the book, I’d love to hear what you think about it – is it worth me waiting for my hold?

If you are still waiting, or have already read all of the books by Diana Gabaldon and want more reading material along similar lines, you might want to try the suggestions on our If you like Diana Gabaldon page or on the Author Read-alikes on Novelist Plus.

And if you are really keen, why not go see Diana Gabaldon herself at her talk here in Christchurch on 4th November?