I finally finished The System of the World last night, after nearly five months of reading. I would have finished it much sooner if I'd decided to haul it back and forth to work last fall, but instead I kept it at home and only took it on trips to Mississippi and New Orleans. Only in the last few weeks have I shlepped it to work as I grew closer to the end of the book. As Neal Stephenson can be described as "heavy reading," my next few books will be much shorter and lighter.
Of all of Stephenson's books, TSOTW had the best ending. Even his fans complain that his books end abruptly and unsatisfyingly. I can't say that TSOTW has an Earth-shattering ending that will blow your mind, but it does bring the trilogy to a worthy conclusion while leaving room for future exploration of these characters, their ancestors, or their offspring. Of the three books in the trilogy, The Confusion might be my favorite, as it's chock full of adventure and excitement. But all three books are excellent, and I look forward to re-reading them in years to come. I also need to re-read Cryptonomicon, as many of the names and places in the trilogy come up again in that book. And his books are just damn good fun to read, whether it's the first time or the fifth. I can't wait to read whatever his next book will be. But having spent the past 18 months reading almost nothing but Neal Stephenson, I need to take a break from him for a while. Next up on my reading list is I'm With Stupid by Gene Weingarten and Gina Barreca. It's non-fiction and significantly easier to carry to and from work.