When I was in high school, my English teacher asked us to write a personal essay about something we loved that nobody else seemed to appreciate. My friends wrote about the smell of gasoline, waiting in line, television commercials that don’t air during the Superbowl, purses for men. I wrote about long books.
Back then I loved books the size of bricks, of doorstops. My rationale was simple: if a book was good, why would I want it to end? I read these by the library tote bag-full, infinitely preferring paperbacks to hardcovers because they were easier to jam in my backpack or tennis bag.
I read numerous 1000+ page books my junior and senior year of high school, and don’t remember ever feeling intimidated by the page counts. Quite the opposite: I remember feeling so proud of myself the first time I read a thousand-pager, in eighth grade, like I’d unlocked a new reading level.
How times change! I’m not sure when I tipped into the short-novel camp, but this summer when I finally read The Count of Monte Cristo, it was one of just a handful of thousand-page novels I’d read these past two decades. (I’d originally thought it was the only one I’d read of this length—but then I remembered plowing through the Outlander series back in 2015!)
Despite numerous enthusiastic recommendations from trusted readers, I put off reading The Count for ages because I didn’t want to spend 1300 pages with one book, knowing that if I chose shorter novels I could finish four or five titles in the same amount of reading time!
While I couldn’t count The Count among my lifetime favorite reads, I’m glad I read it—and the reading experience has softened me towards other doorstop novels. I needed the reminder to not dismiss any books out of hand—whether that’s because of their cover, or genre, or—in this case—intimidating length. I’m considering finally reading Stephen King’s The Stand, and I might dive in to this newer release I’ve heard great things about. And, of course, I’ll be ready when Diana Gabaldon’s next Outlander book FINALLY comes out. (How much longer do we have to wait?)
How do YOU feel about long books? What’s the longest book you’ve ever read? Tell us in comments!
P.S. 20 extra-long and totally readable books, and 20 extra-long audiobooks so you can get the most out of those credits, which includes The Count.