The Intimidating Book Club attempted to read In Search of Lost Time in its entirety

West End Library

The Intimidating Book Club attempted to read In Search of Lost Time in its entirety

Spoiler: We made it through Swann's Way and In a Budding Grove

For some devoted enthusiasts, 2022 was a year focused on time. But not just any garden variety sort of time. Rather, the type of time that preoccupied some readers last year was described in terms so rich, so carefully detailed, that it read like a literary brocade (were such a thing to exist). It was the type of time that was excruciatingly baroque -- at least in style, if not in era. It was a type of time that is an all-absorbing, exhausting, long, and terribly precise affair. Indeed, time of this sort has daunted, if not outright defeated, many people over the years. But we felt ready for the challenge.

Yes, dear readers, I am talking about reading In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust, which was The Intimidating Book Club's selection for April through November 2022. Despite Proust's infamy as verbose, nay, even impossibly long-winded, the intrepid members of The Intimidating Book Club rose to the occasion. Inured to tomes (and, in fact, known to court novels with outsized page counts), participants threw caution (or should I say madeleines?) to the wind and bravely tackled Proust's Swann's Way and In a Budding Grove.

Convening for seven consecutive months, meeting once a month, each discussion averaged about 15 participants and lasted approximately two hours. Participants read with diligence and discussed each section with sensitivity and a thoughtfulness worthy of the Prix Goncourt. Opening questions included the origins of taste; the nature of artifice; and lingering ruminations on beauty, love, and the enigmatic appeal of (in)famous people.

The Intimidating Book Club will move on from Proust after these two volumes, turning our attention to Les Misérables in February 2023. But fear not, prospective Proust readers and dedicated votaries alike! We have a spin-off group created specifically for you -- and this particular group intends to sally forth, unflinching and eager to take on the challenge. Learn more here. Hope to see you on the other side of Time

Overview of The Intimidating Book Club
Intended for those who have always wanted to read that one classic novel of gargantuan proportions but never did (or didn't finish). This group will read a notoriously lengthy book widely considered a classic, section by section, and meet monthly at 6:30 p.m. ET for a minimum one-hour discussion that may last through 8 p.m.

Together, we'll get to the finish line. One word at a time.

-- My Nguyen