Super Long Books

discussion

Hi, lovely reader, and thanks for joining me today for another round of rambling about books. I’m linking this to the Discussion Challenge, where great bookish debates are to be found on a monthly basis.

I’ve been meaning to write about fat, long books for a while now. Greg mentioned a cool expression, “doorstoppers”, and I think this is an appropriate term for the big tomes that have some 600 pages or more. I know Cait talked about this briefly in one of her reviews, too, and probably a bunch of other people, but I wanted to discuss this as well, because I have a kind of love-hate relationship with these massive books.

srcek

Fact the first. Some of my favourite books are massive doorstoppers. The Lord of the Rings, The Name of the Wind, The Assassin’s Apprentice, Harry Potter, and many more besides. You’ll notice that these are mostly fantasy novels, though I recently read Me Before You, which has 560 pages in the Slovenian paperback edition, so it’s no small book, either.

Fact the second. If you count the entire series as a single unit, most of the trilogies and longer series are super long. Now, this might be unfair, a series can have a large number of very slim volumes but I count the time it takes to read the entire story. Some of the heftiest series I’ve ever taken on are: Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time (this one has fourteen 800-page books, folks, that’s crazy right there), Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich (these are very moderate in length but I think 22 have been published so far!), George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (I let this one go), Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass (unfinished), Robin Hobb’s Farseers (and subsequent trilogies featuring Fitz), and Scott Lynch’s Gentleman Bastard Sequence (unfinished).

Fact the third. In the time it takes me to read one such book or series, I could have read many, many more shorter stories or standalone novels. Yes. See, here’s the heart of my problem. If I start a series that clocks in at 3000 or more pages when all is said and done, I’m effectively giving my reading time to a single author when I could, in fact, be reading six different authors and giving them a chance as well. The question that arises is: is this author’s writing really worth more than the writing of six other writers put together?

super-long-books

Well, it depends. As I said, some of my dearest books and series are incredibly long. And I have zero regrets in having read them and given the authors the time their books deserve. But sometimes, like with Martin, I become so disillusioned with the series, I drop it – and find I’ve wasted hours of precious reading time chewing my way through stories that should really have been much shorter (I think Martin’s series was originally planned to be a trilogy. Oops?).

I love long books and series for a number of reasons. They give me the chance to really get to know the characters, the worldbuilding is usually excellent, and there’s just so much going on I forget that my arms are supposed to hurt from supporting the massive hardback I’m holding.

But then I wonder: did the author really need to include that particular subplot in the story? Is this character absolutely necessary? Or are they just examples of an author refusing to kill their darlings and an editor not insisting enough? Because I know I would have loved some of the massive books more if they were shorter. If they were more concise, direct, and not such a time sink. I’ve joked with my editor (when talking about translating fantasy) that every book above 500 pages should have a 100 pages axed and every book above 800 could definitely lose 200. And it’s sort of true. If you’re completely honest with yourself and look at your favourite chunky book, you’ll soon see what I mean. Sure, that dialogue is quirky and that description beautiful, but do they bring the plot forward? Do they make story tight? Probably not.

Also, these massive books take authors years to write. And by that time, I’ve forgotten everything that has happened in the previous book and hardly ever have the time or inclination to re-read a 800-page monstrosity to “refresh my memory”. *sigh*

srcek

There’s another, perhaps lesser reason why I wish authors would write shorter books: they’re cheaper to translate. In a book market as small as Slovenia’s, the biggest print runs for absolutely best bestsellers are perhaps 5.000 copies (and yes, I’m talking Harry Potter and ASOIAF). Libraries here do a brisk business because books are relatively expensive – and they have to be. And if you consider how many pages there are to translate, you can bet that the translator is getting the lowest possible rate because the publishing house simply cannot afford to pay them more! So it’s financially better for everyone to translate shorter books that don’t need to be as expensive on the market and can be done in a reasonable amount of time.

So you see, I really wish some of my favourite authors would consider writing shorter books. Their writing is great, sure, but so is other people’s writing, and I often can’t justify starting another 6-part series when it’s just such a massive time and money investment. I’ll still be reading my favourite authors’ series, even if they’re huge, but I’ll be wishing for something lighter all along.

srcek

How do you feel about super long books?

Do you ever hesitate before starting a really long series?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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  • I don’t mind reading long books if there is enough meat to justify it. I DO feel that authors & editors are cutting less out these days. Before Harry Potter, any books for younger readers had to stay within very limited lengths, since there was the perception that people wouldn’t spend money on longer books. Now that everyone knows that isn’t true, it’s easier to just leave stuff in.

    My Most Recent Discussion: Love It or DNF It: Living with Chronic TBR Overflow Pt 3

    • Ooh, that’s a good point. Yeah, the Harry Potter series was such a milestone in publishing! I think it also made a new generation of fantasy readers – people who began reading HP as kids are now adults and probably searching for similar stuff to read.

      And yeah, I agree, lots of stuff that ought to be cut from the books (filler) is left in – and I think books suffer because of it.

  • I hesitate to read long books sometimes, because I feel this pressure to be posting reviews and finishing lots of books. Partly because of my blog, partly because of my backlog. So inevitably the big long books end up falling to the bottom of the pile just because I know I’d have to really focus to get them finished in the same amount of time. It kind of sucks, because I am excited about some of them.

    • Ha, this is one point I didn’t even think about. I have never set a numerical book goal for a year (like on Goodreads) + I post about one book review a week, so I’m not super pressured about reading enough books to fill my schedule. But I know a lot of bloggers with more exciting blogging schedules would feel the same way!

  • I think about this quite a lot, but still haven’t figured out what my opinion is :’) I usually chastise myself if my sole reason for not reading a book is that it’s too long, but your points about how you could also have read 3 smaller books by different authors and thus 3 potentially wonderful stories instead of 1, do make sense. It’s difficult! While some books could have been shorter in theory, I really don’t mind their length if I like the story (like with HP and Throne of Glass – I loved every single page of Queen of Shadows, which was 640 pages long). On the other hand, I still haven’t read Lord of the Rings because it’s length is daunting to me. Same goes for the Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, which I want to read this summer, but will take aaages. Interesting discussion! I still don’t know where I stand, though, haha.

    • Ha, you’re pretty much in the same boat as me, then. I like GOOD long books, I never want to put them down, but sometimes it’s just SUCH a time investment! Plus they’re heavy to lug around in my purse, which is a definite bummer – as we usually buy fantasy books in print because my husband also reads them and he doesn’t have a Kindle.

  • I like reading longer books if it’s by an author I know and love. Brandon Sanderson for example, always seems to write super long books (in fact both books he’s written so far in the Stormlight Archive usually split into two volumes because they are so long!) but I like his stories and characters so much that k can’t get enough of them. If it’s an author I just like, or a new to me author I prefer a shorter book though, because if I’m not going to absolutely love it is seems like such an effort to read a really really long book! :)

    • Ooh, Sanderson! Yeah, he’s definitely one of THOSE authors. :D I read the first Mistborn book and started the Stromlight Archive but his writing just doesn’t do it for me. :( I wish it did, I know lots of people are really, really devoted to his books.

      Yeah, if you’re trying out a new author, you can’t be sure you’ll like them! Maybe even writers who normally write long stories should write a couple of short ones to give newbies a chance to sample their writing. ;)

  • The size of a book doesn’t really affect my decision to read or not read a book. However, I will say, that I don’t think longer book = better book. I love Harry Potter. But I think the 5th Harry Potter book is too long.

    • Yep, I agree. Though if it’s a new-to-me author, I’ll usually check whether or not I’m jumping into a 7-part series of 600+ page books – that’s a big commitment if you’re just starting out.

      And YES, the 5th HP book is definitely too long. :D (It’s my least favourite of the series.)

  • Greg Hill

    I love long fantasy books if it’s a series I’m into in. At the same time I do sometimes pass on trying a new fantasy series because of that very barrier- the time commitment. So it’s a double edged thing for me I guess. I think the longest series I’ve read has been Memory, Sorrow and Thorn by Tad Williams- along with Martin those are probably the longest series (the had to split To Green Angel Tower into two books, it was so big). He’s writing new books in that universe now but I won’t go back and reread the originals because it would be 3000-4000 pages and I don’t have time.

    But having said that I do like them and am glad they’re so immersive. And as much as I like Martin’s stuff I’ve long thought that his editors could, like, edit him occasionally. lol although with all the fan theories I’ve been reading lately I’m starting to wonder if the bloat is actually a plan- stuff I thought was extraneous means something to people on reddit- stuff I never would have thought of!

    Thanks for the mention BTW. :)

    • Yeah, that’s it exactly. If I’m wondering whether or not to give a new-to-me author a try and I see the only thing s/he has written is a 7-part series of 600+ page books, I’ll probably give them a pass. It’s just such a waste of time if you end up not liking their books!

      Ah, yeah, Martin’s fans and their theories. I mean, it could be that Martin is a genious and that ALL the theories will end up connecting and there will be no loose ends left in the series but SOMEHOW I doubt that. I mean, he’s human, right? I think that after a while, some writers achieve such success and recognition that the editors either don’t want to edit out anything because they think fans will like it anyway or the author won’t let them do their job and is pissy about having to edit his briliant work. :/

  • I actually quite like longer book IF there’s a good reason for them to be so long – like in epic fantasy. It’s like you said, it really gives the reader time to get to know the character and their world. They are a huge commitment though but in most cases, I find it’s worth it. I remember when I used to think like the bigger Harry Potter books (GoF and OotP) were HUGE but then I read Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive…HUGE beast of books at over 1100 pages that could double as weapons XD And I loved every second of those…and wouldn’t have cut out anything!

    • LOL I’m glad you mentioned the Stormlight Archive – it’s one of those books where I just couldn’t get past the first 200 pages. I gave it a try (I also read the first Mistborn book) and I think his writing just isn’t for me. Eh, what can I do? :)

      I think my first BIG book was LOTR, actually, I was 14 when I read it and I don’t think the really big HP books were out then? Or possibly Goblet of Fire was already published …

  • “Is this author’s writing really worth more than the writing of six other writers put together?” If I love those books, then yes, it’s absolute worth more to me because it’s not easy for me to find books or series that I truly am enamored with. So this isn’t the reason I shy away from long books or series.

    For me, problem number one with long books is that I don’t DNF. So if I go for a 700 page book, that’s making a serious commitment. If I don’t like it, I’ll have to suffer longer. It sounds ridiculous because no one is forcing me to keep reading, but I just can’t bring myself to stop partway through a story. And the problem I have with starting long series is that I don’t have the money to buy all the books. If I can get them from my library or something, then a moderate length series is not a problem to me. (But if there’s like 10+ books or something already, no thanks. That just seems like it would drag and feels overwhelming.)

    I completely agree though that long books often could have been shorter. I’ve actually been noticing that more and more lately with books, even ones that aren’t exactly long. A lot of books seem to have scenes or POVs that simply aren’t necessary, and that only slows the pace down. If the author wanted the book to be longer, they could’ve used those pages to flesh out the characters better or something.

    • EXACTLY – IF you love the books! I agree, it’s definitely worth it if the books end up being your new favourites. But if it’s a new-to-me author who ONLY writes massive books? How do I know? :)

      Oof, you NEVER DNF? That’s … wow. :) I started Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive, for example, and it’s a 1000+ page book – and I gave up at about 200 because the writing just didn’t do it for me.

      And YES long books can be very expensive. I find this to be a problem because I mostly read in English (not a lot of fantasy gets translated into Slovenian anyway, unless it’s Martin or whatever) and our libraries just don’t hold as many English books – which makes sense, of course. So I have to buy most of what I read.

      I wonder if this is a general problem in publishing – that books are being published without being properly edited because publishers are pushing for new titles and editors are overworked? I sometimes find myself with a book that is good – but would have been brilliant if somebody just took that red pen and crossed out a couple of paragraphs here and there…

  • GAH I love this! Because okay, I HATE long books. Well, super long books. Because you and your editor are spot on- they COULD be shorter 99.9% of the time. Like, Sarah J Maas is losing me because like… ACOTAR was 432 pages… then ACOMAF was 640. REALLY!? We’re on a trajectory for a 900+ page 3rd book! And Empire of Shadows is over 700, and it isn’t even the last one! I cannot. Heir of Fire at 576 pages nearly made me weep. How can I do the rest of these?!

    I am reading a book right now that is almost 600 pages and while I like it a lot, I HATE how long it is taking me to finish. I like to see progress, I like to feel like I am making a dent! But in these huge books… ugh, it’s like, a mind game, and I am losing!

    • Ooh, I’m glad you mentioned S J Maas – I feel like she’s one of those authors who has achieved the “untouchable” status, so everything she writes gets published almost as-is (I’m probably wrong but still). I would cut about 200 pages from ACOMAF with ease (not entire pages, of course, just fluff here and there, extra characters, subplots, whatever). GAH, Empire of Shadows is over 700? That’s crazy. And have you seen that there will be more books in each of the series?! Hopeless…

      Yeah, another commenter mentioned that she likes shorter books because she can read them faster and review them – she likes to up her Goodreads challenge count + she posts about 4 reviews a week, so I get her point. This isn’t really an issue for me but still, sometimes books really are too long.

  • I love long books when they’re engaging. I could read the Harry Potter series a hundred times and be happy. But then there are other books that I just struggle with. Like Outlander? I think part of the problem is I didn’t actually read the synopsis, so what I thought it was vs. what it is are two different things. Also, it’s slow.

    As for series…regardless if they’re long books or short books, I’m not opposed to starting them. I just almost never read past book one though. I accept this fault of mine.

    • Haha, yeah, I have no problem with rereading the HP series, either. I’ve done it so many times I’ve lost count, actually, and it has never bothered me that the last 3 books are massive.

      But yeah, I only read the first Outlander book, too, and felt it was too long. It was good, I liked it, but I wished it would move faster.

      And I used to be like that – I would start new series all the time and never finish them. So I made a resolution to do better with this, so now I’m more selective with the series I start – and the number of (projected) books + the length of each one are both factors I consider.

  • I am completely with you on this one. I do wish some books were just plain old shorter. I remember reading Lord of the Rings and I really enjoyed the books but I couldn’t help thinking that trilogy could have been so much shorter if some of the description was edited out. The length is unnecessary and all it does is put people off reading. That’s what long books do to me. I find it harder to talk myself into reading them and that sucks. I just know how much of a time suck long books and long series can be, though. I find myself thinking of all the other things I could be reading.

    I do think blogging has given me a shorter attention span for long series. I become unwilling to commit to them because I know I’ll be reading lots of books by the same author and inevitably get bored part way through so I decide not to bother trying. I hate how I think like that sometimes but it’s surprisingly easy to put myself off of reading something when I put my mind to it.

    I don’t know. Some books, once you’ve read them, make sense for why they’re so long. Sure, some scenes may be unnecessary (such as in some of the later Harry Potter books) but they also feel necessary as they tend to be the scenes which add a lighter tone to a book which could be quite dark and angsty or they’re the scenes which remind you why you like certain characters. If some long books were shorter secondary characters which you have come to love may never have even gave gotten a chance because their entire storyline could be edited out. There are pros and cons to it and I’ll just have to keep forcing myself into reading these long books to see which ones do it well.

    • Oh, yes, Lord of the Rings could have done with some editing, but it was also published 70 years ago, so I suppose we can’t hold it to today’s editing standards. Honestly, if I look at books such as War and Peace or Crime and Punishment, it makes me want to grab a red pen and just CROSS THINGS OUT. But they were written in a time when fewer books by far were published + people had more time to read or something…

      Ha, yep, series that have 3+ parts are difficult for me to start, too! I know I’ll probably want to finish them and I always think about all the other shiny books I’ll miss out on if I commit to that.

      Mm, yeah, I agree that some “unnecessary” scenes can add a lot of colour to the story. But then there are some that are just plain BORING. :D

      And of course, I’ll still be reading all the long books, I mean, I just finished Son of the Shadows which has 650 pages and I ADORED it. So yeah. Love-hate relationship at its best. ;)

      • Some editing? Lord of the RIngs could have been cut down a lot. I get what you mean, though. It’s a different time. I mean, when I look at some of Dickens’ books I just want to cry but then I remember he was getting paid by the word so some of his books are way too long to be reasonable and that wouldn’t happen now. I suppose modern standards can’t always be applied.

        I think we will all have a love hate relationship with long series and books. We tend to love them but they are such a timesuck. I do find ebooks for long books help because I don’t realise their length until I’ve been reading for couple of hours and am still only 10% in. When I see a really chunky book on my shelf I will avoid it all costs. I think I continually need a little cheerleader talking me into long books.

        • I am very protective of LOTR so I won’t go into this “could have been cut down a lot” thing right here! :D No, I’m kidding, I know that by modern standards, it has a TON of filler, but it was also the first “true” fantasy book I read (when I was 14) and it just opened this entire world to me and I hold it very close to my heart. :) I NEED to re-read it soon because I don’t even know when I last re-read it and that’s just sad.

          I HATE reading really long books on Kindle! I know long books are hefty in physical copies but seeing that progress bar move at a snail’s pace is horrible! :)

          • I know I keep hating on LOTR (I’ve got to go to your other comment on my blog and readdress this issue. I love and hate the books in equal measure) which is terrible because I loved those books but I can never again read them. I can’t face the length of them no matter how much I enjoyed them as a teen. I mean, I hated when they changed the whole thinking Frodo was dead at the end of the 2nd film. I loved that cliffhanger at the end of the second book, imagine experiencing that wait for the final film!

            I know what you mean. It’s the speed predictor thing which gets me. When I see I still have 16 hours left I want to cry. I’ve started turning it to the end of chapter time because that is less daunting.

          • YOU HAVE A SPEED PREDICTOR ON YOUR KINDLE?! What is this magic? :D Mine is so old it has none of the fancy options. :) So I’m always kind of lost when it comes to long books being read on it.

            In any case, we tend to buy paperbacks of really long books because they’re mostly fantasy and A. reads them as well – and he doesn’t have a Kindle (I wanted to buy him one for Christmas this year but he said he wasn’t really interested, which is super weird because he loves gadgets otherwise – but I guess he’s a traditionalist when it comes to reading.).

          • I can’t believe you don’t! I know my old one didn’t but I cracked the screen and the page turning buttons were going so I got a Paperwhite a couple of years ago and I could never go back. I love and hate the speed predictor, though, it’s useful but it tends to keep me up later than intended because I will see I’ve supposedly got half an hour left at pm and then an hour later I’ll finish the book. It’s not always accurate.

            I get buying paperbacks when you share books because it just makes sense. I have a few books I wish I owned physical copies for because I’ve wanted to lend it to a friend and couldn’t. I get A wanting to stick traditional with his books. I didn’t want a Kindle at first but the convenience is just too perfect for me and I like the backlight for reading in dim light. I now can read whenever I want.

          • My Kindle doesn’t even have a backlight. *sobs quietly* I would totally get a new one but I can’t really justify buying a new gadget if the old one is still functional! And this one has been working for nearly four years, so I’m happy with it – AND I got it second-hand from a colleague (not that he used it a lot but still).

            And I kind of can’t imagine my life without my Kindle anymore. I probably read half of all my books on it and what would I even do about ARCs? And cheap romances? :D But since A. reads neither of those, he probably feels no need for a Kindle.

          • I managed to talk about it enough that my mom ‘decided’ to gift me with a new one because a slightly damaged screen is almost as annoying as I can be when I want something. I do know what you mean, though. It’s so hard to justify tech unless it’s kicked the bucket.

            And this is very true. I think mine is used for cheap kindle deals (which is normally romance, we all have our own guilty pleasures) I suppose A doesn’t require ARCs and cheap romance. He should, though, he does not know what he’s missing!

          • You know, he’s actually read two romances that I’ve translated! :D A Julie Garwood and a Kresley Cole. I don’t think he was very impressed but he’s a very loyal husband (well, he was still on boyfriend status then). And I’ve been trying to get him to read Janet Evanovich for months but he’s resisting me. Soon, though. :)

          • That is amazing of him! He has now impressed me with his loyalty. You should tell him how he used to be so much more interested in your interests before you were married. It might making him feel some guilt to give into to your demands.

          • Nah, he still listens to me when it comes to book recs: he’s just starting The Goblin Emperor. :)

          • Aww, that’s sweet. Really he is sorted with a continual source of book recs from you.

  • I never used to mind long books, back in the days when I had hours to spend reading if I chose. And like you, some of my favorite books or series are chunksters: the Kingkiller Chronicles, some of the Harry Potter books, LOTR. Now I find I’m a more impatient reader, and don’t always have the patience for a book that’s more than 500 pages… unless it’s YA, in which case you can subtract at least 25% of the apparent length because they tend to have a slightly larger font and a little more white space. (Don’t take that percentage as gospel; I pulled it out of the air. But it’s true that I can read a 500-page YA book faster than I can read a 500-page adult book.)

    There are definitely authors with whom I’m perfectly happy to spend that kind of time. And there are others whose books I have a hard time sticking with, and always feel that the book should have been trimmed a bit. I enjoy Kristen Britain’s Green Rider series, but they really could be tightened up a little. And I’m not sure I want to attempt Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive series, though I do plan to read his Mistborn books eventually. The Mistborn books are a reasonable length; the Stormlight books are over 1000 pages each. And there will be something like 10 of them by the time he’s done. He’s fast, though, so at least no worries about him not finishing them!

    • Ooh, that’s a good point – YA books tend to flow faster if nothing else, I think the writing style is also supposed to be a bit looser and simpler, even if the topics discussed are just as serious as in adult books. And yeah, they do tend to be less cramped than some adult books (especially those adult mass market paperbacks for fantasy books with paper so thin it’s practically see-through).

      A lot of people mentioned the Stormlight Archive in their comments to this post. :D I … tried Sanderson (I read one Mistborn book and about 200 pages of the first Stormlight book) and decided he just wasn’t an author for me. Luckily, I DO DNF books, unlike some people, so I didn’t put myself through the torture of slogging through the entire 1000 page monstrosity when I didn’t like it. He has a really loyal following, though, so I think I’m a black sheep (considering I like epic fantasy otherwise). And yeah, at least he’s fast and relatively young – isn’t it awful, though, that we have to consider this fact when deciding on whether or not to start a series? WHY can’t they just write shorter ones?! I always wonder if the authors themselves get bored by their characters by the time such a saga is finished…

  • I love-hate long books too. I actually think I had a greater tolerance in the past for them because now it often feels like these huge books are so unnecessary. Where was the editor, I sometimes wonder when I read a massive book that just feels like it’s dragging at times. I really do consider the legth of novels before starting. Illuminae is huge and I ended up returning it to the library unread because I knew I’d have to devote a lot of time to it that I didn’t have at the time. I’m actually about to start a 500 page contemporary book which feels pretty unheard of. I’m a bit skeptical of its length, but we’ll see.

    • Yep, I also consider the length before starting a new book, unless it’s by an author I know and love.

      And Illuminae … oh, I was a black sheep with this one. In my opinion, you aren’t missing out on a lot. :)

      BY THE WAY have you seen that S. J. Maas announced something like 6 new books to come in her 2 series? Not new series, just a bunch of new books for Throne of Glass and ACOTAR. *sigh* I actually signed up for her newsletter because she said she’d explain it all in there – I’m really curious about how they intend to stretch things out. This is SUCH a commercial thing to do! Why couldn’t they sign her on for a new series instead?! Ugh.

      • I remember you being the black sheep with Illuminae. Yes, I heard about those extra books. I actually had some very bitter thoughts when hearing one of those Throne of Glass books would be about Chaol. She does know she essentially made most of the fandom hate the guy and now she’s going to write about him? See, very bitter. Yes, I don’t understand all the extra books at all.

        • :) Bitter makes sense here, I wonder what she’ll make of Chaol now that he’s been so thoroughly reviled in QoS. And stretching books/series out like this has never been a good thing – authors tend to plan a series in advance, I think, and any additional volumes just water things down. It’s not like 6 tomes aren’t enough – I mean, Empire of Storms is supposed to have 704 pages in its hardcover edition, each instalment is longer than the last. Gah.

  • I don’t love long books for most of the reasons you mention. A lot of time longer books are filled with lots of extraneous details that I’m not even all that interested in. (I skim a lot through epic fantasy that describes every character’s outfit and every room in painful detail – I’m looking at you Wheel of Time Series.) Strangely, I actually liked them better when I was younger – I think my attention span has shortened as I’ve aged. Robin Hobb is an absolute favorite of mine, though, and I never really thought of her books as being all that long … though I have no idea why!

    • Haha, Wheel of Time is SUCH a great example of an author biting off more than he could chew. I mean, I have no idea what Jordan’s life story was but HELLO why would he plot to write 14 900-page books if he was a slow writer?! I heard Brandon Sanderson is planning on having some 7 1000-page books in his Stormlight Archive series and all I can think is: “Has he learned NOTHING from Jordan?!” This goes for George R. R. Martin as well. *sigh*

      And yeah, I used to read a lot of longer books before I started blogging. I discovered books at a slower pace then, I suppose. I even read War and Peace in high school!

      Yep, Robin Hobb’s books are definitely doorstoppers, we have a shelf full of them and they look pretty damn impressive (one of the rare authors where our editions all match). :)

  • This is such an interesting post! I totally agree with a lot of the points you make. Personally, I do love long books, but only when I’m marathon reading them. When you’re waiting each year for every book in a series to come out, I don’t usually look forward to rereading an 800 page tome to refresh my memory, as you said before (I would just head over to Recaptains). However, I do enjoy long books because if it’s a super hyped and anticipated book and it’s rather expensive, I feel like I’m using my money’s worth to purchase this book. Great discussion post; this was so interesting!

    • Thanks, Alice! :)

      I’ve used Recaptains, too, but sometimes they don’t have all the books I’m looking for, so I’m either lost when I begin a new book or I need to reread (or at least skim through) the previous one(s).

      And I like marathoning long books, too, or at least starting long series once they’re already completed or close to completion, so I don’t have to wait for the author to write the next one.

  • Long books intimidated me xD I mean, I’m okay with it, as long as if it’s only stand alone or trilogy. More than that? No thank you. Like you said, I could read 3/4 books in the time I used to read 1 huge books. And like you said, most of the things in the books are only descriptions or conversation that doesn’t move the plot forward. It could get tiring sometimes… So yeah, I try to avoid it as much as I can, but once in a full moon I do try to read them.

    • I’m not exactly intimidated by long books – I’ve read so many that it doesn’t faze me, really, but all the problems you list are exactly why I now try to avoid them sometimes. I mean, they really have to come STRONGLY recommended for me to read them, otherwise, I just don’t have the time.

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  • Michelle

    I’m a slow reader to begin with, so these massive books end up feeling completely daunting. However, I ended up reading The Name of the Wind in, basically, a day and a half. So if it’s good, I read it faster, and it doesn’t end up being a time-suck, I guess? With the longer ones, I’m definitely more selective. And honestly, I usually end up going for an audio-version instead of reading them outright just because I typically get more time for audiobooks than reading when I’m working full-time. And even then … I definitely wait until I have a decent queue of reviews already scheduled on my blog so I don’t feel like my scheduling “suffers,” even if it’s an artificial worry.

    • Ah, yes, the reviews! A backlog of those always helps if you’re reading long books. I ran into this problem earlier this year when I reread a lot of books for some reason, and I’d already reviewed them on the blog, so after a while, I ran out of books to review and posts to write! :)

  • I don’t mind super long books or a series, but I need to find the series at book one or two, otherwise I won’t go back to book one and start reading. IDEK why or how I started thinking like that to be honest lol

    • Oh, so you mean you won’t go into a 6-part series if it’s already done and finished? Yeah, I guess that makes sense. I feel intimidated by some of these long fantasy series where there are 8 parts or something and the 9th (and final) one coming out soon. So much catching up to do! :)

      • If it’s already done and finished? You know, i don’t know? I freely admit, I get distracted by good books very quickly, so I can’t say for sure lol Exactly, the catching up is daunting I think — but with series like Charlaine Harris’ Harper Connelly series, I totally went back and read them all. *shrugs* Clearly I’m complicated when it comes to my reading habits lol

  • I definitely hesitate before starting 500+ pages long novels, especially if they’re part of a 3+ books long series. That said, sometimes I end up loving these long-ass novels and series the most, because I do think *some* need all those pages (though after 800, IDC how exciting it is, it’s too long haha), but lots and lots could use some editing. One thing, though – I feel like sometimes the opposite is true, meaning that seemingly too many parts were cut out. Obviously, I can’t tell for sure, because I’ll never see the original novel, but it sure feels as though too many important parts were cut out (or never added in the first place). I definitely read novels that were all action – no stopping to take a breath, not even for character development or to work on the relationships. Hope that makes sense?? lol
    Amazing post!
    PS: LOVE your blog name + header. :)
    Veronika @ The Regal Critiques

    • Ooh, I know what you mean about books being too sparse with details and character development. For me, there has to be balance in all things – I can’t read a book that’s all character or all action, I like a mix of everything. (I know, so demanding…) :)

      I am used to long books, I just feel they’re REALLY unnecessary sometimes. And I don’t know if I have a real limit for the page count, I’ve read some absurdly long books, but it’s mostly the series part that kills me with fantasy. I can handle one or two massive books at a time – but 3+ books in a series are simply TOO MUCH.

      And thank you! I’m glad you like them. :)

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  • Wendy Falconer Gassaway

    I really like that photo of your doorstoppers! This post made me curious enough to go over to my Read shelf on Goodreads and sort by page length. It’s a little deceiving, because I seem to have added some entire series rather than individual books, but the long books/series that pop up are LOTR, Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, The Stand, Gone with the Wind, War & Peace, CIder House Rules, Lonesome Dove, Middlemarch…all of which I’m really happy I read. But at this point in my life, I tend to shy away from such long books, unless I know the pace will be brisk. I read the first two Outlander and Song of Ice and Fire books, then pretty much gave up. But Elizabeth George’s mysteries tend to be 800+ pages, and I devour those.

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