Jan 19th 2015: Reading my White Whale

I think everyone has a “white whale” of some sort – something that they just can’t figure out, complete, or start even. Something that lurks in the background and irritates. Something that says “you’re never going to accomplish this, you’re never going to get me off your back.” (OK, I may be mixing my metaphors a bit there.)

Maybe I’m wrong. I’m not a psychologist. And I’m also using a reference that I’m only familiar with because of Scrubs, not because I actually know anything about Moby Dick.

My reading related white whale/monkey is the book Executive Orders by Tom Clancy. It’s a fairly chunky paperback book at just under 1300 pages. I bought my first copy in the UK when I was in a bit of a reading phase and I fancied something a bit more complicated, not to mention longer, that the crime thrillers I have been devouring. I think I went into a book shop and picked up the biggest paperback I could find.

I started it and got about 5 pages in before I realised that a: it was part of a series, and b: was way over my head. It then sat on my bookshelf for years. Collecting dust. Staring at me. Mocking me. “You’re not smart enough to understand me. You don’t have the commitment to finish me.”

So I threw it out. Or gave it away. Or something. Out, out damned spot.

Fast forward a few years and I was in a second hand book store in Guildford and spotted the same damn book. Same cover, same 1300 pages, same mocking look in its eyes. So I bought it, vowing that I would beat it; I would beat my white whale.

Realising that in order to actually understand it and enjoy it, I should probably read the rest of the Jack Ryan series of Clancy’s books, I bought The Hunt for Red October. And enjoyed it. Onwards to Patriot Games. Enjoyed it. Next I have The Kardinal of the Cremlin queued up on my Kindle.

I’ve got a few more to go before I get to Executive Orders, but I’m slowly getting there. I will get there.

Except I keep getting distracted with other things – things that seem less daunting.

About 10 days ago I started reading Game of Thrones, book 1. I really did not get into the TV show; I lasted 5 minutes before I was either nodding off, or doing something else entirely. But it was suggested to me that I might enjoy the books more and book 1 was on discount so I gave it a go. I’m actually enjoying it. Well, I’m 60% though it and I’m still reading so I must be enjoying it right?

It’s a pretty hefty tome, not as much as Executive Orders but at 800 pages, it’s definitely not a quick read.

It’s led me to make two decisions for this year’s reading:

1) I will not buy new books other than releases from my favourite authors (James Patterson, Kathy Reichs, Patricia Cornwell, Tess Gerritsen). Those are givens – they must be bought!

2) I’m going to attack the list of books waiting on my Kindle. I reckon there’s probably 150 books sat there waiting to be read. Including Executive Orders, although I will probably read the paperback sat on my self just because it’s more symbolic, if less convenient, than reading it on Kindle.

And I’m coming for it. I’m not going to say I’m going to read it this year, or that I’m even going to start it this year, but I’m going to make progress towards it. I’m coming for you Monkey Whale!

2015 may well prove to be the year of the big reads. Which is why I’m not going to set myself a particularly high reading target. If I can read one “big read” a month with some lighter stuff thrown in (and by lighter stuff I’m including the crime thrillers!), I think I will be happy with that.

You can follow my progress over on Good Reads.


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