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The Long Con

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message 1: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 44 comments Please let me know if this topic has been brought up in the past, and I will defer to that discussion.
Does anyone notice a significant difference between books that are lengthy and what has been termed as "quick burns" in reference to how willing people are to finish them?
I'm finding that when a book is tedious to me it's almost impossible for me to soldier on and finish it if it's longer than 300 pages. If it's bad but it's 300 pages or less, I knock it out real quick and move on. How much do people base their reviews on how long a book is vs. the storyline, quality of writing, etc? I don't care how long a book is, if it's good I will be all over it, so I never mention length in reference to quality of a book.
I ask because even in this month's pick I've noticed that people who like the book seem to think people who don't like it are averse to it because it's so long and there's a lot of exposition. I didn't like this month's pick, but not because of the length. I just think the writing is poor. I actually prefer a longer book as it gives me more time to spend with the characters.


message 2: by David Sven (new)

David Sven (Gorro) | 1582 comments I personally don't mind long books or long series. But the story has to be able to keep my attention. There are some books that I enjoyed immensely but would get bored with if they went too long. For example Fritz Leiber's Swords and Deviltry. I loved it. But I would not be able to handle it if the story stretched for 1000 pages instead of the 200 it actually covers. Another example would be David Gemmell's Legend. Its a pretty short book and I started out enjoying it, but it just went that bit too long and there wasn't enough meat there to keep my attention. But then you have other books like Hamilton's Pandora's Star that was quite long - and felt long, but was totally engaging and actually got better as it got longer.

So I guess story is king, but for me, I think some stories are better suited to a shorter book.


message 3: by Lee (new)

Lee (kiwifirst) | 28 comments Sometimes I can except a shallow story in exchange for something new, like a unique magic system. Ie Mistborn.


message 4: by Leesa (new)

Leesa (leesalogic) | 402 comments I have the same view sometimes. If a book is hard for me to get into and it's more than 300, it becomes very difficult for me to just get through it. But if a book is less than 200 and isn't grabbing me, I still stick with it, perhaps skimming some of the less interesting bits so at least I get a gist.


message 5: by Tim (new)

Tim | 379 comments Yes. My case in point is Stephen King's The Stand. It didn't help that in the introduction is said that he'd reintroduced 600 pages that his publisher had originally told him to take out (frankly, his publisher was right, IMHO). It really was dire; page after page of aimless waffle. It was like trudging through the plot desert with no water; after another 50 pages of nothing happening I'd just scream at it "get to the fricking point! (obviously actual words ay differ)

Naturally I lemmed it.


message 6: by terpkristin (new)

terpkristin | 3244 comments Interesting to bring up The Stand. I listened to the "new expanded" version in audiobook earlier this year, and agree that there was a lot that was superfluous. I think his original editor may have been correct, though I didn't compare what was new with what was old. I think I would have lemmed it if I had read the print instead of audio.


Joe Informatico (joeinformatico) | 813 comments Tim wrote: "Yes. My case in point is Stephen King's The Stand. It didn't help that in the introduction is said that he'd reintroduced 600 pages that his publisher had originally told him to take out (frankly, his publisher was right, IMHO)."

I heard this little anecdote a few years ago. Look at the cover of the book. If the author's name is bigger than the title, the book is probably at least 200 pages longer than it has to be.

(If you're so successful in publishing you'll sell 1 million+ copies based on your name alone, why would the publisher waste money on editing?)


message 8: by Tim (new)

Tim | 379 comments I'm gonna change my name to Harry Potter Part 8...


message 9: by Rik (new)

Rik | 619 comments The first version of The Stand I read was the extended version and I couldn't put it down.


message 10: by Gregory (new)

Gregory Lynn (Gregory_Lynn) | 27 comments I've been away for a while and this talk of The Stand had brought me back.

The extended version of The Stand is the awesomest awesome that ever awesomed as far as Stephen King goes.

The shorter version doesn't include The Kid at all, nor does it include Trashy's trip through the tunnel in the Rockies.

I don't remember all the differences but that's primarily because I haven't read the shorter version in twenty years while I've bought at least three copies of the extended version.

What Stephen King does best--or did, I really haven't read much of his stuff in the last decade or so--is characterization and cutting those 600 pages was sacrificing character for plot.

People will differ, but I'll take character pretty much every single time.


message 11: by Rob, Roberator (new)

Rob (robzak) | 3758 comments Mod
I've read the uncut version once a few years back (during a really boring Grad School class) and recall enjoying it (I rated it 4, though I'm not sure if that was an imported rating from virtual bookshelf, or just a swag rating).

At the time it was one of the longest (if not the longest) books I had ever read. As I've gotten more into fantasy the idea of such a long book doesn't cause me to blink.

Did anyone else watch the ABC Mini-series with Gary Sinese? I saw it when I was like 12 and it scared the crap out of me. I think I watched it again in college and still thought it was good.

That plus the tie-ins to the Dark Tower finally pushed me to read it.


message 12: by Katina (new)

Katina French (thatdarnkat) | 48 comments Bumping because I just discovered this thread linked from the latest video podcast.

I think I'm definitely more likely to stick with a book that's not gelling for me if it's shorter, and give up if it's really long.

Perfect example: Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness. I managed to get through the first book in that series, despite being terribly overwritten, by virtue of the fact that I loved the idea of the book, and I figured "it's her first novel, she's a professor, her editor will reign her in on the superfluous stuff next time around."

No such luck. After 300 meandering pages and almost as many more to go, in a book where the main characters had two basic goals, and had made exactly zero headway on either, I just gave up.

A book less than 300 pages, if it gets off to a rough start, I'm usually willing to soldier on IF there's at least one reason to keep going, like I love the worldbuilding, or I really enjoy a particular character, or even if I want to be able to say conclusively "that book sucked from beginning to end."


message 13: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 44 comments even if I want to be able to say conclusively "that book sucked from beginning to end.

I've done that before. I call them spite reads. Books in which I feel I've been mislead by other readers or the insert, that are REALLY bad. I will finish and try to give as intelligent and concise a review as possible while also pointing out everything I thought was wrong with them. I only feel ok doing that if I've read the whole book though. Usually to books that are getting an average 4+ star rating that are clearly 2.5-3 stars.


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Books mentioned in this topic

Swords and Deviltry (other topics)
Pandora's Star (other topics)