This month I’ve spent a fair amount of my free time working my way through one of the biggest books on my shelf: The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton. At 832 pages, it’s certainly a substantial read!
As I slowly approach the end, I’ve been looking through some of the other doorstops in my collection, which all clock in at over 500 pages.
Unfortunately, so far I’ve only read half of them – but I do enjoy a challenge.
- The Blind Assassin, by Margaret Atwood – 637 pages
- The Divine Comedy, by Dante – 735 pages
- The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami – 607 pages
- Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin – 780 pages
- The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas – 875 pages
- IQ84: Book One and Book Two, by Haruki Murakami – 623 pages
- Sherlock Holmes: The Short Stories, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – 764 pages
- Moby Dick, by Herman Melville – 634 pages
- The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, by Steig Larsson – 599 pages
- The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt – 784 pages
It’s interesting to see just how many of these books fall into the category of ‘classic’. Nowadays, there seem to be fewer long novels published. We have much shorter attention spans and thanks to the rise of the e-reader, publishers can compile data on how quickly we give up on the books we’ve chosen to read.
Modern epic length fiction often falls into the fantasy or historical genres, where details play a pivotal part in the story and thus extend the word count way above the average novel. Think about books like Lord of the Rings or Wolf Hall.
It can be intimidating to read a novel of that length; it’s taken me over a year to get to The Luminaries, despite it having won a major award. But epic novels can be worth the effort and the time, even if their sheer length can often prove frustrating.
What’s the longest novel on your bookshelf? Have you ever read something that would benefit from being a lot shorter?