Big Book Summer Challenge

Big Book Summer Challenge 2018 (

My friend Sue who blogs at Book By Book is hosting her seventh annual Big Book Summer Challenge and I am on it this year! You can read the challenge details here (note that she has a Goodreads group for those of you who don’t blog), but, in short, the goal is to read books over 400 pages between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

I have a few on my list that I plan to read this summer:

The Odyssey by Homer (8th Century B.C.) The new translation by Emily Wilson (2018). The text of this beautiful new edition from W.W. Norton is 525 pages. I’ve read The Odyssey twice before. Once in high school and again in college. In college, we used the Lattimore edition. The big deal about Wilson’s new translation is its the first time a translation of The Odyssey has been published by a woman and not just any woman, but one who is a thoughtful, careful translator. Here’s an interesting interview Wilson to get you started if you want to learn more.

Little Women by Louise May Alcott (1868). I’ll be re-reading this classic for the Book Cougars read-along in June. In fact, we’re hosting a whole Summer of Little Women that you can learn more about here. Unlike many of my contemporaries, I didn’t grow up reading Little Women. In fact, I was one of those know-it-alls who felt that she knew what the book was about from having seen adaptations and reading about the novel. I didn’t read it until I was in my 30s and really enjoyed it.

Middlemarch by George Eliot (1871-2). I’ve only read one novel by Eliot, Adam Bede, which I liked despite having read it in a class with a professor who was as boring as dust. That was way back in college and I’ve wanted to read what many consider her masterpiece since then. I own an Oxford World’s Classic mass market paperback that is 682 pages long but will soon be seeking out a trade paper edition with a larger font. Suggestions welcome!

One of Ours by Willa Cather (1922). I’ll be reading the 459-page first edition of this Pulitzer Prize-winning World War I novel. This will be a re-read for me for the July meeting of the Willa Cather Book Group at the Book Club Bookstore & More in South Windsor, CT on July 19th at 2pm. All are welcome to join. I adore this novel.

Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee (2007). I’ll be reading a beautiful new and more compact paperback edition of this novel that’s coming out June 5, 2018 from Grand Central Publishing. It weighs in at 624 pages. I was curious about this novel when it first came out but never got around to it. I read and fell in love with Pachinko early last year before all the (well-warranted) hype hit. I’m really looking forward to reading what is Lee’s first novel in her trilogy about the Korean diaspora.

What are your reading plans this summer?



  1. Welcome to the Big Book Summer Challenge, Chris!! I’m so glad you decided to join the fun this year 🙂

    And, wow, what an awesome list of Big Books. I was impressed you were planning to read The Odyssey, and then I saw it will be your third re-reading! Now, I’m super impressed!

    I re-read Little Women a few years ago (and loved March), so I am looking forward to your discussions this summer.

    And I loved Middlemarch! I read it for a book group a few years ago, and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it and how clever & witty George Eliot was! Her social commentary was just as relevant today as it was when she wrote it.

    Enjoy your Big Books this summer and welcome to the challenge!

    Be sure to come back to the challenge page to post links to any reviews or updates, too (there is a separate links list for those).


    2018 Big Book Summer Challenge

    • Thanks for the warm welcome, Sue, and for hosting such a fun, no-pressure challenge! I’m glad to hear you liked Middlemarch and March. As for The Odyssey, I think I’m going to do that as a slow read and spread it across the summer. Looking forward to seeing what everyone reads.

  2. I love Little Women!! I hope you enjoy it. 🙂 I had to laugh because I’m just seeing this post and this morning I was commenting on how all the books I’m reading are over 400 pages and that never happens for me! I really need to get a copy of Emily Wilson’s translation of The Odyssey – I read a Penguin Little Black Classic that was an excerpt from the old translation and the story sounds really good. Maybe once I catch up on a lot of my already own classics I’ll get it. Have fun reading big books!

  3. I was thinking about the old tome challenge where it was like 750 plus so my first thought was how in the world is Little Women a big book?!? I hope you enjoy Middlemarch! I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected.

  4. Wow you have very ambitious plans for this summer! All those classics will definitely be worth the time though! I’ve only ever read abridged versions of “Little Women” and “Odyssey”.

    I signed up this year too!

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