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Influence of book length

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message 1: by Jay (last edited Jan 19, 2008 11:02AM) (new)

Jay Garcia (jayg) Are you just as likely to start a 600+ pager vs. a shorter book, or do find you have to "prepare" or be in the mood to start something larger/epic?

I have a couple meaty books that have been sitting on my shelves for awhile b/c I haven't been the mood to tackle them.

Also, what is the longest book you've read? The last one I can remember is Don DeLillo's Underworld at 830 pages or so, and it was well worth it.


message 2: by William (new)

William (acknud) I will tend to hesitate at collossal tomes but if the interest in the material is there and the book is highly recommended I will tackle it. If I remember correctly then "The Stand" is one of my longest. I don't actually remember the size but it seemed large. It turned into a pleasant read though and is one of my favorite novels.


message 3: by Muzzlehatch (new)

Muzzlehatch | 168 comments I like long works and am actually more likely to pick up a 1000 page behemoth than a slim tome; which may be why I don't read as much as I'd like to.

The longest single work I've ever read is probably "The Lord of the Rings" which is only considered a trilogy because publishers were afraid of putting out such a work in a single volume back in the 50s. Gene Wolfe's "Book of the New Sun" (4 volumes) is probably just about as long, as is Samuel R Delany's "Dhalgren" (1 volume). All probably about 500,000 words.

I've read a few series that are longer but are definitely not single novels.


message 4: by grantonio (new)

grantonio | 24 comments Absolutely. I'll probably finish up my latest long book, Infinite Jest, today. While I've enjoyed it immensely, I'm ready to move on to something else, and they'll probably be shorter books for awhile. This one was 1000+ pages (including endnotes) of small text. Next on my list, by comparison, is The Road, which is just shy of 300 pages of broadly spaced, large text, also appearing to have a lot of spaced out dialogue. I would say it's maybe 1/7 as long.

The longest book I ever read entirely was War and Peace. IIRC, it was about 1700 pages of tiny-print paperback. I want to start In Search of Lost Time soon, which, if I finish it would be the longest, technically. It is in seven volumes, though, but it is one work. I've started but not finished Total War and The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, both huge ones.


message 5: by Jason (new)

Jason Rawles | 1 comments Good topic, Jay.

I don't have any recollection of this ever being a consideration in the past. I usually have a few books going at once, in addition to technical journals, online reading/subs and magazines, etc. I never feel caught up but that doesn't keep me from truckin' along.

The lengthiest single work I've read is likely the KJ Bible, which I believe is around 850,000 words. The longest read I've thoroughly enjoyed is the unabridged version of The Sagas of the Icelanders, which I've added to my library.


message 6: by Dodd (new)

Dodd | 127 comments I don't have time in the big chunks that I feel like I need to give a good read to something in the 600+ page range. Two hours a night or so is very unusual and I won't get that every night. When I miss reading for three or four days I tend to lose track of characters and plot devices and pretty soon lose interest altogether.

I don't think I have waded into anything longer than Ulysses in the last 20 years - and in spite of finally clicking with Ulysses this time around, I still didn't make it all the way through before ordinary life took me away.

I really do like reading good short stuff though. I almost always have a collection of essays under way and a copy of Granta around as those sorts of things have pieces of the right length for my available attention.


message 7: by Claude S (new)

Claude S | 200 comments I like to mix it up depending on mood and other outside interests. I also might read something short whilst slogging through a larger volume of forgotten lore. As in, sometimes I take a break in the middle of a big one.


message 8: by Frank (new)

Frank Hays (logicalfrank) | 40 comments These days, I tend to like novelettes and short stories more than anything. I don't think I've read anything longer than six hundred pages in my life. Even that is borderline masochism.


message 9: by Jacob (new)

Jacob | 17 comments Book length has no effect on me. It's not that I'm some lofty reader, it's because I have no ability to change my level of reading depth depending on reading. I put the same level of concentration on a light, entertaining book as I do on something deeper and more complex or even a textbook I'm having to learn from. That also leaves me with a great memory for what I read so even though it'll take me a month or few to get through the book, I won't have to go back and reread earlier sections because they're all still with me.

Unfortunately, I'm a fairly slow reader because of how closely I read. My wife reads at nearly double the pace that I do and I've never been able to skim all that well.


message 10: by Brian (last edited Jan 29, 2008 10:37PM) (new)

Brian (bkco1213) | 12 comments It depends on the book for me. Easier reads like Stephen King or some fantasy - I won't blink at 1000 pages or multiple books. History or non-fiction is tougher. I've always wanted to read Churchill's WWII books, but they are very intimidating. On the other hand I did read Shelby Foote's Civil War series but that was more of a narrative.


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