Gigantic, Enormous, Gargantuan Books

If you're only allowed to borrow one book from the library, try one of these ginormous volumes. You may be able to skip a day at the gym if you carry one of these around with you.

The Autobiography of Henry VIII, with Notes by His Fool, Will

By Margaret George

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"Much has been written about the mighty, egotistical Henry VIII: the man who dismantled the Church because it would not grant him the divorce he wanted; who married six women and beheaded two of them; who executed his friend Thomas ore; who sacked the monasteries; who longed for a son and neglected his daughters, Mary and Elizabeth; who finally grew fat, disease-ridden, dissolute. Now, in her magnificent work of storytelling and imagination Margaret George bring us Henry VIII's story as he himself might have told it, in memoirs interspersed with irreverent comments from his jester and confident, Will Somers. Brilliantly combining history, wit, dramatic narrative, and an extraordinary grasp of the pleasures and perils of power, this monumental novel shows us Henry the man more vividly than he has ever been seen before."
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The Curse of the Mistwraith

By Janny Wurts

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It began with a Mistwraith that smothered all the world in fog and dampness, followed by a war that upended order and overthrew the rule of the High Kings. Now, two rival brothers must unite to clear the skies of the deadly Mistwraith if their world is to survive.
Volume one of The Wars of Light and Shadow. Immediate sequels are Ships of Merior and Warhost of Vastmark.
 

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Russka: The Novel of Russia

By Edward Rutherfurd

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"Spanning 1800 years of Russia's history, people, politics, and culture, Edward Rurtherford, author of the phenomenally successful Sarum: The Novel of England, tells a grand saga that is as multifaceted as Russia itself. Here is a story of a great civilization made human, played out through the lives of four families who are divided by ethnicity but united in shaping the destiny of their land."

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North and South

By John Jakes

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When their two sons meet as West Point cadets, the southern, plantation-owning Main family and the industrialist Hazards of Pennsylvania find their lives interlocked, as the nation moves toward Civil War.
Continues with Love and War and Heaven and Hell.

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Lonesome Dove

By Larry McMurtry

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"Set in the late nineteenth century, Lonesome Dove is the story of a cattle drive from Texas to Montana -- and much more. It is a drive that represents for everybody involved not only a daring, even a foolhardy, adventure, but a part of the American Dream -- the attempt to carve out of the last remaining wilderness a new life.

"Augustus McCrae and W. F. Call are former Texas Rangers, partners and friends who have shared hardship and danger together without ever quite understanding (or wanting to understand) each other's deepest emotions. Gus is the romantic, a reluctant rancher who has a way with women and the sense to leave well enough alone. Call is a driven, demanding man, a natural authority figure with no patience for weaknesses, and not many of his own. He is obsessed with the dream of creating his own empire, and with the need to conceal a secret sorrow of his own. The two men could hardly be more different, but both are tough, redoubtable fighters who have learned to count on each other, if nothing else.

Call's dream not only drags Gus along in its wake, but draws in a vast cast of characters:

  • Lorena, the whore with the proverbial heart of gold, whom Gus (and almost everyone else) loves, and who survives one of the most terrifying experiences any woman could have...
  • Elmira, the restless, reluctant wife of a small-time Arkansas sheriff, who runs away from the security of marriage to become part of the great Western adventure...
  • Blue Duck, the sinister Indian renegade, one of the most frightening villains in American fiction, whose steely capacity for cruelty affects the lives of everyone in the book...
  • Newt, the young cowboy for whom the long and dangerous journey from Texas to Montana is in fact a search for his own identity...
  • Jake, the dashing, womanizing exRanger, a comrade-in-arms of Gus and Call, whose weakness leads him to an unexpected fate...
  • July Johnson, husband of Elmira, whose love for her draws him out of his secure life into the wilderness, and turns him into a kind of hero..."
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Lincoln, a Novel

By Gore Vidal

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Lincoln is the cornerstone of Gore Vidal's fictional American chronicle, which includes Burr, 1876Empire, Hollywood, Washington, D.C., and The Golden Age.

"It opens early on a frozen winter morning in 1861, when President-elect Abraham Lincoln slips into Washington, flanked by two bodyguards. The future president is in disguise, for there is talk of a plot to murder him. During the next four years there will be numerous plots to murder this man who has sworn to unite a disintegrating nation. Isolated in a ramshackle White House in the center of a proslavery city, Lincoln presides over a fragmenting government as Lee's armies beat at the gates. In this profoundly moving novel, a work of epic proportions and intense human sympathy, Lincoln is observed by his loved ones and his rivals. The cast of characters is almost Dickensian: politicians, generals, White House aides, newspapermen, Northern and Southern conspirators, amiably evil bankers, and a wife slowly going mad. Vidal's portrait of the president is at once intimate and monumental, stark and complex, drawn with the wit, grace, and authority of one of the great historical novelists."

Part of Gore Vidal's Narratives of Empire series.

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Green City in the Sun

By Barbara Wood

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In 1917, Dr. Grace Treverton arrives in Kenya, determined to bring modern medicine to the African natives. Her brother, Sir Valentine Treverton, has his own dream for the British protectorate: to establish an agricultural empire to rival any in England.

The aspirations of the wealthy Trevertons collide with those of the Mathenge tribe, an African family that has lived on the land for years. Grace soon finds a deadly rival in Mama Wachera, an African medicine woman who fights to maintain native traditions against the encroaching whites. After Wachera curses the Trevertons, a series of tragedies threatens to destroy what the once-great family fought to create. But the fates of future generations of these two remarkable families are inextricably bound.

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Caribbean

By James A. Michener

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Master storyteller James A. Michener sweeps us off to the Caribbean,with a magnificent novel that captures the eternal allure of that glittering string of islands and their tumultuous history. Beginning in 1310 and continuing through Columbus's arrival and the bloody slave revolt of Haiti to the rise of Castro, Caribbean carries us through 700 dramatic years in a tale teeming with revolution and romance, slavery and superstition, heartfelt characters and thunderous destinies.

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Atlas Shrugged

By Ayn Rand

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The decisions of a few industrial leaders shake the roots of capitalism and reawaken man's awareness of himself as a heroic being.

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A Suitable Boy

By Vikram Seth

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Set in the post-colonial India of the 1950s, this sprawling saga involves four families--the Mehras, the Kapoors, the Chatterjis and the Khans--whose domestic crises illuminate the historical and social events of the era. Like an old-fashioned soap opera (or a Bombay talkie), the multi-charactered plot pits mothers against daughters, fathers against sons, Hindus against Muslims and small farmers against greedy landowners facing government-ordered dispossession. The story revolves around independent-minded Lata Mehra: Will she defy the stern order of her widowed upper-caste Hindu mother by marrying the Muslim youth she loves? The search for Lata's husband expands into a richly detailed and exotically vivid narrative that crisscrosses the fabric of India
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