20 absorbing doorstop novels for your summer reading list

20 absorbing doorstop novels for your summer reading list

Once upon a time, there was a girl who thought a good book could never be too long. If the story was amazing, why would you want it to end?

That girl was me, age 17. How times have changed.

I do love a good long read, truly. But these days, I get hung up on the opportunity cost—a fancy way of saying I could read five full-length novels in the time it would take me to read Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy, for example. And wouldn’t I rather read five books than just one?

I know it’s not just me.

The seventh category for the 2018 Reading Challenge—for those who want to get more out of their reading lives in 2018—is “a book that’s more than 500 pages.” Why? To nudge you to intentionally tackle a looooong book you really want to read, but never seem to want to read next. Those big fat books you keep putting off because they look so darn intimidating.

This is your chance.

The books on this list tally 13,194 pages, with an average page count of 659. They’ve all been well-loved and well-vetted by your fellow readers—because if you’re going to devote 500+ pages to a book, then by golly, it had better be good.

Extra-Long Books
In This House of Brede

In This House of Brede

Author:
Funny story: I just received an email about this book from a reader, with the all-caps subject line THE HOUSE OF BREDE: WHY YOU NEED TO READ THIS NOW. And it is in fact on my TBR because I've heard this is wonderful, and many readers count it among their lifetime favorites. I've also been warned that while a novel based on life in a Benedictine monastery may sound dull, it's anything but. The story centers around Philippa Talbot, a successful professional woman in London who gives it all up to become a nun. 672 pages. More info →
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Middlemarch

Middlemarch

Author:
I'm looking forward to reading this with the Modern Mrs Darcy Book Club this fall. Eliot’s hefty masterpiece combines her "study of provincial life" with a close look at several young couples who fall (or think they fall) in love. Who will find lasting happiness, and who won’t, and why? By focusing on the narrow disappointments and particular joys of this small community, Eliot cuts to the heart of human nature. A novel about love, happiness, and second chances. 904 pages. More info →
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Pachinko

Pachinko

Author:
In this sweeping domestic drama, shortlisted for the 2018 RUSA Historical Fiction Award, Lee tracks four generations of a 20th-century Korean family back to the time when Japan annexed the country in 1910, affecting the fates of all. Lee portrays the struggles of one struggling Korean family against the backdrop of cultural and political unrest, as they endure fierce discrimination at the ends of the Japanese. A compelling portrait of a little-explored period of history. At 496 pages, we're calling it close enough. More info →
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I Know This Much Is True

I Know This Much Is True

Author:
This is the story of two brothers born into a big, messy, complicated family. One is trying to keep his own life together as he attempts to watch over his schizophrenic twin. It's an emotional and challenging read, on many levels, but I thought it was so well done, and Lamb wrote one of the best endings I've read in a long time. 912 pages. More info →
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Cutting for Stone

Cutting for Stone

This engrossing story combines medicine, family, and politics to great effect. Moving between India, Ethiopia, and New York City, we follow the story of identical twin brothers, born of a secret union between an Indian nun and the British surgeon she assisted. Part coming-of-age story, part mystery, part sweeping family story, this novel defies easy genre categorizations and ranks as the favorite book EVER of legions of readers. There are some difficult scenes, and it starts slowly—but it is 100% worth its 667 pages. More info →
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A Suitable Boy

A Suitable Boy

Author:
This epic novel revolves around four large extended families in the post-colonial India of the 1950s. By following these families, Seth takes his reader into their homes, the courts, their religion, workplaces, academia, violent riots, and domestic disputes. Lush descriptions and well-developed characters make this an enjoyable long read. (Or so I'm told—it's still on my TBR!) 1474 pages. More info →
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1Q84

1Q84

Author:
I took this to the beach last year ... and didn't read it. (Don't worry—it's happening!) A friend who loves this calls it "the longest book you'll never, not once, lose interest in." Setting: Tokyo, 1984. A young woman begins to notice troubling discrepancies in the world around her, which makes her think she's living in a parallel reality, which she names 1Q84, the "Q" standing for "question." If you'd like to tackle a shorter Murakami work for a book in translation, you're in luck. He is prolific. 925 pages. More info →
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East of Eden

East of Eden

Author:
My high school English teacher assigned us The Grapes of Wrath instead, so I didn't read this until a few years ago. This is Steinbeck's most ambitious novel, and in his opinion, his finest work. ("I think everything else I have written has been, in a sense, practice for this.") The title references the fall of Adam and Eve, and the subsequent embattled relationship between brothers Cain and Abel. Grounded thoroughly in its California setting, interweaving the stories of two Salinas Valley families. 620 pages. More info →
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The Book of Strange New Things

The Book of Strange New Things

Author:
In this genre-bending adult science fiction novel, set in the not-too-distant future, a Christian pastor travels from earth to a far-off planet to evangelize its settlers. A big novel, dealing with big questions—religion, politics, philosophy—and permeated by a feeling of anxiety. This book is often mentioned in the same breath as The Sparrow, with good reason. I recommend this to Seth Haines in episode 4 of What Should I Read Next. 594 pages. More info →
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The Heart’s Invisible Furies

The Heart’s Invisible Furies

Author:
From the author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Told in seven segments, set every seven years, this novel spans one Irish boy's entire lifetime. This is the story of one specific life, and also the story of Ireland itself, as it grows and evolves over the same time period. If you loved A Prayer for Owen Meany, think about giving this one a try. Book of the Month members chose this big, immersive novel as their book of the year in 2017. 567 pages. More info →
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A Fine Balance

A Fine Balance

Author:
I was so excited to bring this book home from Nashville's Modern Mrs Darcy Book Club paperback swap! This novel, set in 1970s India during the Emergency, weaves together the lives of four people in India during a time of great political unrest and social upheaval. The titles comes from this line: "You have to maintain a fine balance between hope and despair." I've been told it's not an easy book, but it's a good one—even if it might just break my heart. 628 pages. More info →
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The Thorn Birds

The Thorn Birds

McCullough's modern classic tracks an Australian family across three generations. This sweeping Australian saga tops many a reader's favorite books list. (It should be noted that for every two people who adore this book there's one who considers it a schmaltzy romance. Read it and decide for yourself.) 704 pages. More info →
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The Lake House

The Lake House

Author:
It's kind of shame to wait years for a book and then devour it in 24 hours once you have it in your hands. But it's also kind of awesome, and it happens to me with every Kate Morton novel. In 1933, a young child disappeared without a trace. In 2003, a disgraced young detective stumbles upon the cold case and soon discovers its ties to one of England's oldest and most celebrated mystery writer (think Agatha Christie). I absolutely loved reading a mystery novel about a mystery novelist: the pages are filled with fascinating references to the fictional author's writing process and working life. 606 pages. More info →
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Small Great Things

Small Great Things

Author:
Jodi Picoult's particular talent is taking hot-button contemporary issues and giving them flesh through the lives of her characters. This time she tackles racism, bringing together a skilled African American nurse and a white supremacist family who don't want her near their child. When the baby goes into cardiac arrest, the nurse is the only one there to intervene. Many readers call this latest novel—until October 2, when A Spark of Light drops—her best yet. We've discussed Small Great Things SO MUCH on the podcast, with Annie Jones, Kristin Economos, Madeleine Riley and others. 510 pages. More info →
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The Black Widow (Gabriel Allon Series Book 16)

The Black Widow (Gabriel Allon Series Book 16)

Author:
When several thriller writers tell you that Daniel Silva writes the best spy thrillers out there, and The Black Widow is the best of the bunch … you read The Black Widow. The story opens with a bombing in Paris, and to make sure another attack doesn't occur, Allon recruits an unlikely woman to infiltrate the terrorist cell responsible. This book stands alone just fine, but now I’m inspired to go back to the beginning of the series. 595 pages. More info →
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The Time in Between

The Time in Between

Author:
I've been recommending this nonstop. Fashion, romance, and … espionage. If you loved Casablanca, try this novel set during the Spanish civil war. Sira Quiroga works her way from dressmaker’s assistant to a premier couturier, putting her in contact with the wealthy and powerful. When the British government asks her to spy for them as World War II gears up, she agrees, stitching secret messages into the hems of dresses. This has been a Summer Reading Guide pick and a Book I Can't Stop Recommending, but it's perfect for your Reading Challenge book in translation. The dialogue is a little bumpy in places, but the story is worth it. 626 pages. More info →
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Half of a Yellow Sun

Half of a Yellow Sun

In 1967 Nigeria, the Igbo people of the East seceded to form their own nation of Biafra, inciting a bloody three-year civil war followed. This novel from the author of the wonderful Americanah tells the story of that conflict, known as the Biafran War—an event largely forgotten outside Nigeria—through the eyes of five diverse characters: a university professor, his privileged girlfriend, their servant boy, her twin sister, and her British journalist boyfriend. This is a story that will stay with you long after you turn the last page. (Hot tip: the audio version is fantastic.) 562 pages. More info →
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The Book Thief

The Book Thief

Author:
The characters are interesting and unexpected, right down to the unusual narrator. "You are going to die," begins this 2006 novel. A fitting beginning to a story about hard things: a little girl and her family struggling to endure in WWII Nazi Germany. You'll see why this was an instant staple on school reading lists when it was published ten years ago, and why it has captured the hearts of readers from age 10 to 110. Beautiful, haunting, fascinating, hopeful. (Psst—Zusak's much anticipated new book Bridge of Clay hits shelves October 9. 562 pages. More info →
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The Poisonwood Bible

The Poisonwood Bible

I've read this several times, yet it's so good I never realized it was a LONG book until a fellow book-lover pointed out the page count to me. Southern Baptist Missionary Nathan Price heads off to the African Congo with his wife and 4 daughters in 1959, and nothing goes as planned. Though they bring with them everything they think they will need from their home in Bethlehem, Georgia--right down to the Betty Crocker cake mixes--the Prices are woefully unprepared for their new life among the Congolese, and they all pay the price. I love Kingsolver; this is one of her best. 570 pages. More info →
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What’s the longest book you’ve read? What are you reading for this category? Tell us all about it in comments!

P.S. Need a breather after a long book? Check out these 20 life-changing nonfiction books that you can finish in a day, and these 20 short novels you can read in a single day.

176 comments

  1. I totally agree with you about long books…used to love them (before I really internalized the concept of opportunity costs), but now the chunkster has to really blow me away for it to be worth it (Heart’s Invisible Furies was absolutely worth it). And I agree with your friend about 1Q84…one of the only long books I could’ve read even more pages of!

    • Rebekah in Redlands says:

      Do you think 1Q84 would be a good listen? Sometimes I get lost in audio books that have too many characters or jump back and forth in time so I’ve been nervous.

      • Hmm. It’s been years since I read it and I have trouble with fiction on audio, so I may not be the best person to ask. If I remember right, there are 2 main characters in 1Q84 and most of the action focuses on them, but there are definitely lots of side connections. 1Q84 wouldn’t be something I personally could listen to on audio, but maybe others could?

        You know what? I’ll throw it out to my Twitter followers and see if I can get any other opinions!

  2. I’d add The Crimson Petal and the White to your list. It’s set in Victorian England and centers on two very different woman. I read it over spring break one year while I was teaching. Couldn’t put it down.

  3. RachelZ says:

    I LOVED The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati, who also wrote the Into the Wilderness series (which I also liked, but not as much). The Gilded Hour clocks in at 740 pages and it’s chock-full of romance, mystery, adventure, and 19th century feminism. Fair warning: it ends with a lot of unanswered questions. It’s supposedly the first in a series, but the 2nd book hasn’t been announced yet.

  4. Susan Craig says:

    I don’t know if this is cheating because it is really several books in one. I re-read Anthony Trollope’s Barchester novels every couple of years. My omnibus edition is held together with four different kinds of tape. When you open it, sand falls out.

    • Bethany says:

      LOL love that! Trollope doesn’t get the attention he deserves in my opinion. I read The Palliser novels a couple years ago and am itching to read the Barchester Novels as soon as I can get my hands on them. Your taped together collection makes me even more excited!

  5. Jessica H. says:

    This is a wonderful list….thank you! “Pachinko” is probably my favorite read of 2018 so far, with “Americanah” by Adichie close behind. So, I’m apparently in a big book phase. 😂 I’m currently reading “Wolf Hall” by Hilary Mantel (604pg), and I highly recommend it for fans of 16th century British history. It’s the story of Henry VIII’s reign, told from the perspective of one of his closest advisors, Thomas Cromwell. Fantastic so far!

  6. Michelle_ says:

    Oh, I’m pleasantly surprised that I’ve read 3 of these books already! I cannot say enough about “The Thorn Birds”. I read it as a teenager (raiding my Mom’s bookshelf) and looooved it! And then I read it every summer for a few years. I just finished reading Herman Wouk’s Henry Family series (The Winds of War / War & Remembrance). It’s an epic saga about WW2 and I just couldn’t put these puts down! Highly recommend! PS. I’m a new poster, been listening to the WSIRN since last fall and am a huge fan! 🙂

  7. LOVE this! Slowing down and really digging into a long novel is one of the best feelings. LOVE that you included Thorn Birds. My mom gave me her copy when I finished college and told me to enjoy reading again (after reading nothing but text books for four years). I would also include Pillars of the Earth on this list. It is one of my all time favorite long novels 🙂

  8. Lori Cassin says:

    Thanks for this list! I’ve read many of them, but can add a few more to my “to read” list. I want to recommend A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. It clocks in at just over 800 pages and I haven’t finished it yet, but it’s addicting once you get into it.

  9. Amy Smalley says:

    My two favorite long novels are oldies but goodies. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry and Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. Both of them I was skeptical of before starting but was totally won over. I’ll admit I’m more likely to read a big novel in the winter.

  10. Melissa Turney says:

    I read a couple of long books every year because there is nothing like being swept away in an epic, sweeping novel. I don’t view it as an opportunity cost issue (quality over quantity). I’m on track to read Gone With the Wind three times in the calendar year. It’s probably my favorite book of all time. I also love The Thorn Birds (which I discovered after an episode of WSIRN) Les Mis, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Does the Harry Potter series count if you have to read books 1-7 all in a row with no break once a year? 🤣

  11. Christine says:

    Outlander is definitely long enough — definitely not a book everyone would love though. I’m excited to see The Lake House on this list because I’m reading it now and my hardcover only has 492 pages! But I now I feel ahead of the game 🙂

  12. Anne says:

    I love long books & have eagerly been awaiting this post!! All time favorite book is Les Mis. Also enjoyed Cutting for Stone & Small Great Things.

  13. Sarah says:

    I loved East of Eden, one of my favorite reads; I never realized until now it was so long. I agree with 17 year-old Anne; I’d rather read one good book than 5 that are lacking. When I reviewed my reading at the end of last year I realized all the fast fluff reads I was gorging on weren’t giving me a truly satisfying reading experience. I am trying to place quality over quantity this year. Besides, if I’m enjoying a book I read it faster; some of those big books seem to fly by, while a less engaging shorter novel will drag out. Other big books I’ve enjoyed are the count of Monte Cristo, Lonesome Dove, Sophie’s World.

    • Julie Newman says:

      Ken Follett’s Kingsbridge series (World Without End and Pillars of the Earth — I have not yet tackled A Column of Fire) are wonderful!

  14. Anna says:

    I have to add Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (960 pages), my favorite book ever. It’s closely followed by Les Miserables (1232 pages) and Anna Karenina (976 pages). When I was growing up, I was like you – I believed if a book was less than 500 pages, it was not worth reading!

  15. Lori A. Samilson says:

    I read 11/22/63 for this category. It took me about half the time to read it than I anticipated it would. It is definitely on my list of my all time favorite books. I love the fact that you mention the Thorn Birds. I read that book the year it came out, when it seemed as if it was the only book people were reading. It is also an all time favorite.

    • Cecelia Flanagan says:

      I too loved 11/22/63 and was surprised at how quickly I got through it. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it as I’m not a huge King fan.

  16. Danielle says:

    I love this list! Cutting for Stone is one of my favorites.

    I would add Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts to this list. It seems to be a pretty polarizing book, but I devoured it a few summers ago and still think about some of the characters quite often.

  17. Julie Newman says:

    Ken Follett’s Kingsbridge series (World Without End and Pillars of the Earth — I have not yet tackled A Column of Fire) are wonderful!

  18. Sarah says:

    I’ve read and loved several of these titles.😊 Two others that I enjoyed recently: “The Weight of Ink” by Rachel Kadish & “The Nix” by Nathan Hill.

  19. Wendy L says:

    I love this post! I have read ten of these, and many are among my favorite reads ever (A fine balance, the poisonwood bible for sure!). It seems that the longer books seem to have more staying power and impact on me, maybe because I’m more invested at the time. I’m adding several of these to my reading list. Thank you!

  20. Holly says:

    I am surprised to see I have read four of the books on your list and have to agree that they are novels at the top of my all-time favorites list.

    I would also add “Mists of Avalon” by Marion Zimmer Bradley (happens to be on sale today for $1.99 on Kindle). My book group read it years ago and people still bring it up today as a favorite.

  21. Erin says:

    The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, hands down, is my favorite epic-length novel. I’m surprised it didn’t make this list. I’ve heard good things about Pachinko, and it’s on my TBR. Maybe I’ll pick it up on while I’m on vacation next week.

    • Diane Lee says:

      The Goldfinch is a really divisive book-I thought it needed severely editing and could have lost 200 pages no problem…Yet I know other people have loved it,,,

  22. Caroline says:

    Add “The Nix”, by Nathan Hill, to this list. I loved it! It was the last long book I’ve read (598 pages). The longest was probably “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”.

  23. Nichole says:

    East of Eden is my all time favorite book! I also love Atlas Shrugged though I know that one can be super controversial and the first 100 pages are BRUTAL. It was recommended to me by someone with great taste and he warned me about the beginning so I was willing to stick it out. 1Q84 was a miss for me. I wanted to love it, but I wanted to quit reading it so many times. Normally I can bail on a book, but I felt like I had committed too much time to it to quit. By the time it was over I was completely over it.

    • Nancy Smith says:

      The first hundred pages introduces so many of the characters, but after that, the book flies. At least it did for me…I finished it in less than a week the first time I read it. I then turned around and read it again. It is a novel that I can re-read and get something new out of it every time. I guess it is because I have changed.
      By the way, Atlas Shrugged is up for PBS Great American Novel…voting will continued until August or September, and readers can vote daily for as many of the books from the list. As for me, I always vote for Rand and a few others that are personal favorites.

  24. Rinda says:

    Cutting for Stone is our book group’s all time favorite book. I loved East of Eden! The Time in Between is on my book stands to be started soon.

    • Rinda says:

      I also loved The Mists of Avalon mentioned above and Wicked!!! And admit to really loving James Michener’s Hawaii

  25. Susan says:

    I’m actually making an effort to read more long books that have been on my TBR for a while. Although my cutoff is more like 400 pages, I did read Pachinko, Strange the Dreamer, Into the Woods, The Great Alone and Alif the Unseen this year. I still need to tackle The Passage, The Name of the Rose, and The Great Glass Sea.

    • Heidi Benson says:

      “The Name of the Rose” was a favorite in my youth. I’d definitely revisit it… if I can find a hardback.

  26. Lisa says:

    One of my all time favorites is “The Hawk and the Dove” by Penelope Wilcox. It, too, is set in a monastery and travels between medieval times and mid 20th century. It is engrossing in ways you wouldn’t imagine it could be.

  27. Mary Ann Stewart says:

    I read “A Suitable Boy” many years ago and loved it… I bought it in three paperback versions, Parts 1,2 and 3 so it was easier to bring along to read wherever I could. I don’t read a lot of long novels anymore but might consider it in this type of format…

    • Anu says:

      A Suitable Boy is one of my favorites! I still think about bits of it from time to time. Just his mastery of so many different characters and worlds was dazzling. The other one on this list that I’ve read is Poisonwood Bible – also one of my all-time favorites! So maybe there’s something to the theory that longer novels stay with you – or perhaps I just give up on the long novels that I don’t like so much, ha!

  28. Cindy says:

    Anna Karenina is probably the longest. The Outlander Series books are all long but I love the storyline. Also read War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk. I am not afraid of a long book and really am glad I have a Kindle now to read them and not have to tote around a big oversized book.

  29. Dawn Carpenter says:

    Love this list – and I’ve read 9 of these. So proud of me 😉 I read the Suitable Boy when I was in grade 12. I remember toting this giant hard copy book everywhere I went that year …it felt like forever. In January I took on Stephen King’s “IT” which also felt monumental.

    • Heidi Benson says:

      If you enjoy “It” (which I didn’t; coulrophopia worsened after that read!), I’d try “The Stand”. After seven straight college semesters reading things I had to, that was my first “want to re-read”. Haven’t read it since and now realize I should.

  30. Susan says:

    I can’t stop recommending “I am Pilgrim”. It’s just over 600 pages that I read in 3 days. Could. Not. Put. Down.

  31. Kristine says:

    I just finished My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray. It was over 600 pages. It was so very good! I’ve read several Hamilton historical fiction books, and this one was my favorite, a deep dive into Eliza Schuyler Hamilton’s life. So good!

  32. Shelley Schlosser says:

    I love, love, love James A. Michener’s books-Space, Chesapeake, Centennial, Poland, and more. He writes of historical events overlaid with fiction al characters and though the books are long, they’re hard to put down. I highly recommend checking out this author.

    • Liz Erdmer says:

      Hawaii by Michener! Our first trip to Hawaii was meaningful because of this fictionalized history. Oh to read it on the beach in Maui, dripping cold pineapple on a page here and there!

    • Kim H. says:

      I love Michener, too, Shelley! The Source is my favorite (read it twice), and I also loved Hawaii, Alaska, Chesapeake, The Covenant, and Centennial. I recommend him, too.

  33. Shannon says:

    This post feels very timely! I’m in the middle of The Light Years (first book of the Cazalet Chronicles), and while I’m really enjoying it, I keep thinking I could be reading so many more books. A great lesson for me in enjoying the present. The Invisible Bridge and Kristin Lavransdatter are two other big books I really enjoyed too.

  34. Heidi Benson says:

    As so many of these suggestions have movie/TV versions, I’ll recommend “The Alienist” by Caleb Carr (493 hardback, 512 paperback). The miniseries is fantastic but the book is even better.

  35. Liz Erdmer says:

    A Fine Balance is excellent. Don’t read A Suitable Boy right after it as it is upsetting to read about ultra rich Indians after the reality of poverty so well described in A Fine Balance.

    • gail says:

      A Fine Balance is probably my favorite book ever. It sparked a life-long fascination with Indian culture. Would love to visit some day. And when is Mistry going to publish another book??? I have read his other novels but they didn’t grab me and refuse to let go the way A Fine Balance did.

  36. Britta says:

    Great list – I’ve been wanting to read Middlemarch for some time, I think I’ll have to dive in! Another huge book that I’m currently reading and loving is Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset. It’s magical and tragic and although it’s taking forever to read it, I really am loving it!

  37. MerrillyMegan says:

    I would also add Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, and Nobody’s Fool by Richard Russo. Even though they’re over 500 pages, they all left me wanting more, which says a lot because I typically like to stay in the 350 range!

  38. Diane says:

    I read “Children of Blood and Bone”, which is the book Jimmy Fallon chose for his summer reading challenge. It’s a YA book that comes in at 537 pages (which is about 150 too many, in my opinion). I thought it was good, not great.

  39. Lori East says:

    I, too, have thrown over a lot of big books so that I could cover MORE. I do still love a doorstop, though, especially if it’s engrossing. I’ve read six (well, five and a half) on this list (The Thorn Birds–when it was new!; Pillars of the Earth (lying outside on a bench in the sun in Germany waiting for a space-a flight to Spain, eons ago–Ken Follett remains a favorite); The Lake House (ALL of her books!); The Book Thief (*sniff*); Small Great Things (meh); The Poisonwood Bible (also eons ago), and am halfway through Half of a Yellow Sun. Several of the remaining titles have been on my TBR list forever so I appreciate the nudge!

    Some of my hands-down best-loved sagas include the works of Edward Rutherford (London, Sarum, Paris, The Forest, New York…). With each one I am entertained, educated, engrossed. Doesnt get much better than that for me!

  40. Wendy S says:

    I try to read one hefty book every winter, this year it was The Goldfinch, which I really enjoyed. I would also add The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert to the list. I read it maybe 4 years ago and still think about it.

  41. Allison says:

    Most of my all-time favorites are extra-long books: A Little Life, The Secret History, The Heart’s Invisible Furies, The Poisonwood Bible, as well as some of my favorite guilty-pleasure books (I don’t really feel guilty): Ken Follett’s epics, Outlander.
    But you’re right that I have to gear myself up a bit more to read these long books, just because they take up more time. I’m trying to worry less about that, though, since most of the books I love are long!
    I loved so many on your list, and a number are on my TBR: In This House of Brede and Middlemarch.

  42. Janet Keating says:

    My favorite long novel of all time is Trinity by Leon Uris. It’s a sweeping family saga set against the history of Ireland. I loved the main character, Conor Larkin, so much I named one of my sons after him!

  43. Joana M says:

    Being a Spaniard myself, I couldn’t help but smile (big time) when I saw The time in between in the list! Not only it is a great book; they also turned it into a very good tv miniseries. And I cried my eyes out with The book thief… I’ve just finished reading A column on fire (Ken Follet writes nothing but doorstoppers), and I loved it. Thank you for your recommendations!

  44. Emily says:

    I was pleasantly surprised that when I added Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy on Goodreads after finishing it (reread), it counts as two books because it is so long and I think originally it was published in two volumes…

  45. Joanne Long says:

    One summer when I was in university, I took a course in the 19th French novel. It was only 6 weeks but gave full year credit. Every novel (think Les Miserables and Germinal) was very long. I read almost all my waking hours. I haven’t read any Daniel Silva, so I will try The Black Widow.

  46. Nancy Smith says:

    I have read several from your list: The Thorn Birds, The Book Thief, The Poisonwood Bible, and Cutting for Stone. My favorite reads include Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. I have read both many times, the former enough times I have lost count. Some of Kristin Hannah’s novels probably count as “chunksters” like Firefly Lane and of course, Gone with the Wind is among the books I have read. Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and Franzen’s Freedom, too, but to me, both could have been improved and more enjoyable if 200-300 pages minimally were cut.
    Page count has never discouraged me in my reading choices, but I have to admit that I do have a shorter attention span for just sitting and reading one book. Maybe that is because I tend to have two or three books going at a time. Just finished reading The Nightingale (Hannah) late last night. While under 500 pages, it had some heavy, emotional content.

    • Dee says:

      I struggled with Atlas Shrugged. It was my mother’s favorite so I felt I had to read it, but there were too many long … soliloquies, for lack of a better term. I’m glad I read it, but I probably won’t again! Glad someone else appreciated it as much as she did.

  47. Dana Kumerow says:

    I love a long novel, especially in the winter. My favorites have been:
    11/22/63 by Stephen King
    A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving
    any book by Kate Morton

    I have had Middlemarch on my TBR list for a long time.
    I thought The Book Thief was an incredible premise and an amazing book.
    Thanks for the recommendations.

  48. SHERRY JOHNSON says:

    Longest book I have read..either Gone With the Wind or Anna Karennena. Not sure which is longer. Both were excellent and worthy of every page.

  49. Sherry says:

    I LOVE long books. Any of the last 4 “Harry Potter” novels were 500+ pages, as well as ALL the Diana Gabaldon “Outlander” “big” books. And don’t forget “Gone With the Wind:” the edition I read was just short of 1,000 pages.

  50. Adrienne Hudson says:

    So many good choices in the post and comments! A few of my favorites I haven’t seen mentioned yet are:
    ‘The Far Pavilions’ by M.M. Kaye (fascinating saga set in 19th century India, checking in at >1000 pages);
    ‘Fountainhead’ and ‘Atlas Shrugged’ by Ayn Rand (I don’t agree with all of Rand’s philosophy but the books are both fabulous stories);
    ‘Red Storm Rising’ by Tom Clancy (this is not a genre I normally gravitate too, but once I started reading this I could not put it down!) and;
    ‘The Invisible Bridge’ by Julie Orringer, which is a gripping story of Jewish brothers in Hungary during WWII.

    • Nancy Smith says:

      I mentioned Atlas Shrugged (my all time favorite novel) and The Fountainhead (maybe my second, but Harry Potter series ranks right up there). Read AS countless times and TF many times too. I have been voting for Rand’s novel on the PBS Great American Read daily. Yes, the philosophy gets a bit heavy, but the stories…awesome. And when you know her background, even more impressive.

      • Adrienne Hudson says:

        Hi Nancy – I missed those in your comment, but am so glad you replied. It’s been a long time since I read either one; need to get them back on my TBR list. Thanks!

        • Nancy Smith says:

          Agreed…I need an Ayn Rand fix!
          I just sent a copy of AS to a friend who has never read it. Even sending her the book, I still have several copies: one well-read hardcover, one paperback from a set of it and TF, and a copy on my Nook.

  51. Joy in Alabama says:

    One of my favorite long novels is Rosamunde Pilcher’s Coming Home. I usually reread it about every other year.

  52. Teresa Sandoval says:

    I read I Know This Much is True, back when it was one of Oprah Winfrey’s book club picks. I forgot how much I loved it! Seeing it on this list makes me want to read it again. A friend gave me The Poisonwood Bible, and I’ve been meaning to read it. Maybe I’ll start it this weekend.

  53. Any Smalley says:

    One I read last summer and really enjoyed (495 pages – will it count?) is The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. This is magical realism but really about the immigrant experience in NYC at the turn of the century. Loved it!

  54. Linda Hanna says:

    East of Eden is in my top 10 favorites of all time. I didn’t read Steinbeck until about 5 years ago and I feel there are very few authors who are his equal – Wallace Stegner comes close. And then just to show my crazy diverse reading taste, 11/22/63 by Stephen King (842 pages) is also in my top 10. Not horror, instead, suspense, mystery, and such a page- turner, you fly through it!

  55. Kate says:

    I’ve started thinking about books in terms of boats, some are speed boats and some are ocean liners. I spend most of my time in the ocean liner range, but that scope is what I’m looking for. I pop on to speed boats for a couple hours here and there, but it’s just too quick.

    Looking forward to about six of these in the next few months. Always looking for more.

  56. Torrie says:

    I just finished Cutting for Stone and loved it, so I was glad to see that it made your list! (I will admit that when I saw how long it was-only AFTER I picked it up from the library, since I’d put a hold on it online–I almost returned it due to length alone, but I’m glad I didn’t!).

  57. The longest book I ever read was Proust’s “In Search of Lost Time,” and I cheated because it was in English. I am talking about the entire thing, and it took me three years. Each page was like an incredibly rich Belgian chocolate (sorry, but the Belgians are THE BEST for chocolate)–it had to be savored slowly, much too dense and rich to be gobbled down, though I did try.
    Of the books you have, there are a couple I didn’t love, then the Book Thief, which I was reading with my kid and we kind of dropped it, and the Poisonwood Bible, which is a brilliant depiction of missionary/expat culture clash in Africa. I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa many moons ago and I can attest that the Poisonwood Bible is spot-on, in SO many ways.
    A doorstop I’m working on is Don Quixote by Cervantes (again, in English!). It is SO funny!!!

  58. I read In This House of Brede many years ago and remember loving it. In fact earlier this year I bought myself a copy with the intention of a reread. I have always been fascinated by Middlemarch and would like to give it a try at some point. It might test my reading ability and taste. But it would be a challenge.
    The longest books are all the Outlander books that I’ve read and listened on audio as well to many of them.

  59. My favorite long book is the Count of Monte Cristo. SO good and well worth every page!

    For this category, I’m hoping to read Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin and I’d also like to squeeze in A Prayer for Owen Meany.

  60. Michelle K says:

    The two longest books that I have read this year, Pachinko and The Secret History by Donna Tartt, have ended up being my favorites so far. Other doorstopping books that I have enjoyed reading are The Women in White by Wilkie Collins and Villette by Charlotte Bronte.

  61. Savana Oberts says:

    I am reading Middlesex, turning out to be pretty interesting. My favorite long novel is Battle Royale! So good I read it in two days.

  62. Beth says:

    I Know This Much Is True is probably my favorite book of all time (although Us Against You is a new contender) and I reread it every few years.

    I had to laugh at your initial comments about A Suitable Boy. I tried to read it years ago but the book was so big it became a problem. Couldn’t stick it in my purse, couldn’t read it in the bathtub, just too big! This was long before e-books so maybe I should give it another try. An Equal Music is another one of my favorites so I love Vikram Seth.

    Currently I’m slogging through the second book in the Outlander series. The first one took me over a month, with breaks. It’s a great story but my knowledge of history is lacking enough that I have keep stopping to look things up.

  63. Cecelia Flanagan says:

    I used to read giant books in high school. Mainly because I always put off my outside reading and had to pick big books to reach the page number requirement. lol. I did find 2 of my all time favorite books that way, Gone With the Wind and Exodus. I’ve gone back and read them a few times since and fall in love with them all over again.

  64. Danielle says:

    I agree, Cutting for Stone, Middlemarch, and The Lake House were completely absorbing! I still have The Poisonwood Bible on my TBR list, though. The most recent hefty book I read was the 500+ page Life After Life, which was very unique.

  65. Sandi says:

    I read and loved many of the books on your list! I would have to include Pillars of the Earth and World Without End as well. Both are great, but it was hard to put Pillars down!

  66. Jennifer says:

    A Fine Balance is such an incredible book that I have actually read it twice. It is fantastic to see Canadian content on your list.
    I also loved Cutting for Stone. Great recommendations!

  67. Jessica Hoffman says:

    I’ve read Gone with the Wind once, about 20 years ago. I should give that another go.

    I’m making my way through the Outlander series, I just started the 6th book. I have two large non- fictions, Chernow’s Hamilton and A Team of Rivals in my TBR Audible ‘pile.’

  68. Emmie says:

    Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher

    Shell Seekers is Pilcher’s most popular novel, but I think Coming Home is her best!

  69. Terrie says:

    I adore a long book; I feel like I’m getting my time investments worth. I’ve read several of these, A Fine Balance, Poisonwood Bible, I know This Much is True, A suitable Boy and Cutting for Stone. The only one I didn’t like is Suitable Boy. The others always top my recommendations list.
    Thanks to your recommendation Pachinko is high on my TBR list….just waiting on my library copy. My “big” book read for this year so far is The Terror (the name of a ship), topping out at over 750 pages. Though a slow starter, after about 100 pages, I couldn’t put it down – engrossing doesn’t cover it. I’d highly recommend it for adventure and history buffs. I also read the 4th installment of the Red Rising series, Iron Gold at over 600 pages – an excellent fantasy series. Keep all those fabulous recommendations coming; I enjoy adding to me TBR list!

  70. Kim says:

    I just finished Wolf Hall. And I’m currently listening to Cutting for Stone on audio. Tried to read it, got bogged down. Although the 24 hours of audiobook is more than a little daunting.

  71. andrea says:

    I’ve only read four of those you listed but I loved “The Brothers K” by David James Duncan more than those four. I think it’s close to 700 pages.

  72. I included Clarissa by Samuel Richardson on my reading List before I realised it’s one of the longest novels ever published – some 1,500 pages. Eeek! I kind of really want to read it, just to get it out of the way (and see what can possibly take so long to say!), but I can’t seem to find a copy of it in any of my local secondhand bookstores. Wish me luck!

  73. Tina says:

    I’d add 11/22/63, A Little Life (trigger warnings abound), and The Secret History. Loved The Hearts Invisible Furies and just added a bunch of these to my list! (1Q84 being at the top.)

  74. The Poisonwood Bible is my all-time favorite book! I had no idea it was so long! I would love any recommendations for non-fiction books that pass the 500 page mark and aren’t a chore to read. 🙂

  75. I still love long books, I can’t help it! I read Middlemarch last summer and it took forever but so well worth it! I’m currently tackling Anna Karenina and I hope it will also be worth the time.

    “If you liked Owen Meany”… RUNS TO LIBRARY.

  76. Kaethe Pittman says:

    I read America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Fray and Laurie Jaye for my 500+ read. And then I promptly ran off to Monticello to see all things Patsy Jefferson. (Truly: I live in Virginia, so that was easy.) Now on my TBR list: My Dear Mr. Hamilton by the same authors.

      • nanne says:

        Anne, I really hope you like it. My top “ten favorite book” list is continually changing but “The Historian” has been on it since it came out in 2005. I hate to use the cliche, “genre bending” label, but “The Historian” really is so many things: horror, literary fiction, historical fiction, modern gothic, fascinating look into obscure history/historical figures & events, slow burn detective story, family saga, campus novel, travelogue, and on and on.

        BUT!! I am such a seasonal reader and this novel clicks off on all of the spooky, creepy (but not too creepy..I am a big, fat fraidy cat) feels that I crave in October :). Also, think it is one of those love/hate reads.

    • Sarah Lancaster says:

      The Historian was absolutely engrossing. I think I read it in 6 days. Thankfully a friend sold me on it before she ever said the word, “vampire,” or I probably would have given it a pass; it was nothing like what I would have expected.

      After I read it, I was raving about it on Facebook and sighing over wanting to visit Budapest when a friend from overseas casually mentioned that she was heading home to Hungary to visit her family. Did I want to come with her, because if I did, she would set me up with a host family for a week? Sadly, I had no passport and three small children at the time. 🙁 Ahhhh, if only…

      • nanne says:

        Sarah,
        Loved your comment, The Historian IS an engrossing read!

        I work very part-time at a local, independent bookstore and one of our assignments as booksellers is to write a review for the shop’s newsletter. Current assignment is “your favorite, spooky fall read.” I am dying to review The Historian but know as soon as I mention Dracula/vampires our subscribers will roll their eyes, think young adult vampire romance and scratch this off their to-read list.

        • Sarah Lancaster says:

          The friend who recommended it to me finished with a quick, “they are looking for a vampire… sort of… but it’s NOT vampire book! No sparkles, no romance!” I had to chuckle.

  77. Dee says:

    I don’t know if it’s the longest book I’ve ever read, but the longest slog was “Atlas Shrugged.” My mother always said it was her favorite book, so I felt I had to read it. Definitely a challenging read and an accomplishment to finish. I had to take breaks, though, with a few palate cleansing books.

    I’m thrilled to find out that you’ve read the Poisonwood Bible multiple times. (I knew you had good taste, but this is special!) It’s one of my all-time favorites, and I love Barbara Kingsolver.

    • Nancy Smith says:

      I generally tell people not to read all of the chapter, This is John Galt Speaking. It is Ayn Rand’s Objectivism philosophy. A few pages at the beginning and a few pages at the end, but it gives the reader the gist of it. That chapter is a long slog even for me, Dee. I have read it but it takes me almost as long to read it as the whole Part III.

    • Anne says:

      Your “longest slog” category made me laugh. 🙂 And YES to Barbara Kingsolver everything—I can’t wait for her new novel coming out this October!

      • Nancy Smith says:

        Yet, to me, I wasn’t impressed with The Poisonwood Bible…found it to be a long slog. I much preferred her Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, nonfiction title about becoming a locavore (eating local). Different strokes, I guess, or one man’s trash is another man’s treasure (cliches galore).

  78. Jessica H. says:

    So many great suggestions here! I second the commenters above who suggested King’s “11/22/63” and “Middlesex” by Eugenides. Those are two of my favorites!

  79. Sara says:

    Last year read “Mary, Queen of Scotland and the Isles”. A biography of Mary Queen of Scots, but fictionalized details and dialogue which made it unputdownable. Such and exciting tale that has this part of history set in my mind now.

  80. Amelia says:

    I read A Little Life earlier this year as my 500+ page book for the challenge. I picked it up because it was discussed on a few episodes of WSIRN, and I felt like the first few chapters (the ones focused on JB and Malcolm, whom I found pretty annoying at the beginning) could’ve been left out, with those character introductions happening throughout the narrative, and Willem’s chapters could’ve been better integrated with Jude’s. I went into the book thinking it was the story of 4 friends, but really it’s just Jude’s story, and the other three are supporting characters. The first part of the book sets out to seem like it’s about all 4 men, but that’s ultimately misleading, and I resented that a little. Nevertheless, once it really kicked in with Jude’s story, I was engrossed (and also sickened) by the little details of his past intermingled with his present. I still enjoyed and would recommend the book.

    I also just read Cloud Atlas, which I found moderately enjoyable.

    • Allison says:

      I remember feeling the same at the start of A Little Life–I kept expecting to return to JB and Malcolm. Apparently, this was intentional; the author meant them to be a juxtaposition with Jude’s life. If I have a criticism of the book, it would be that the transition from those characters to sole focus on Jude is a little clumsy.

      I hate to self-promo here, but I did a little research on “things you might not know about” A Little Life earlier this year. You might find it interesting since you read it recently: https://www.mindjoggle.com/story-a-little-life/

  81. Liz Erdmer says:

    Clan of the Cave Bear by Auel is wonderful and transports you back 20,000 years. The science is pretty solid as well so you learn about early man, climate change, geology, early language, botany and medicine, geography, evolution, and it’s a page turner!

  82. Sarah Lancaster says:

    No, no, no, no, noooooo! I understand most of my beloved doorstop classics not being on the list (because MODERN Mrs. Darcy, right?) but you cannot deprive your poor readers by writing a list like this without including “The Gray House” by Mariam Petrosyan! It is magical realism at the absolute finest that I have ever read. I read it last summer with a blog-based book club, and I was legitimately captivated by the story, the characters, the mysterious weirdness, the haunting images, and the music of the words themselves. Its something like 700+ (maybe 750) pages, but it was worth every luscious, polished word.

  83. Sam says:

    Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. It is a slow start but once it gets going, it really gets you thinking. I recommend it all the time.

    • Nancy Smith says:

      Good for you for recommending it, Sam. I do, too..all the time. It does take some time to get into the novel because of all the characters she introduces in the first 50-100 pages, but once in, the book just flies (okay some of the philosophy message slows it down a bit), and it is so hopeful at times despite the dystopian element.

  84. Julie says:

    A Fine Balance is Excellent!!! I have read it not once but three times. It draws you in quickly and the story is so well developed that you truly have a feel for the people and culture.

  85. LizC says:

    My entry for this category is The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish. Originally I had planned for this to be my “book by an author of different race/religion” category entry, but after I flew through it on my Kindle, I realized that it had been nearly 600 pages long. Well-written, thought-provoking, fascinating, AND a literary mystery to boot!

  86. Malin Rimby says:

    Our bookclub is reading “Gone Withe the Wind” during summer. It’s a book that’s been sitting on my shelf for a couple (or three…) decades, waiting to be read. 🙂

    Otherwise I’m very much fond of long novels (I was very disappointed as a youth, after finishing Michael Ende’s “The Neverending Story” – it DID end… 😉 ) and re-reads the Outlander-serie every now and then. For example…

  87. Lauri Manes says:

    I have East of Eden on my list but not in that category. I read All the Light We Cannot See for my book club and am counting it. Scraping by at 530 pages. I think I only noticed because I was under deadline!

  88. Ashley S. says:

    I read In This House Of Brede eirlier this year, not realizing how long it was, because Kindle! But I loved it. I realized by accident that I like to tackle a good long book in the summer. This year’s pick was Lonesome Dove and I loved it! One year I did The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, and another Kristin Lavransdatter (love!). I loved Pachinko and just bought East of Eden at a used book sale. Middlemarch is on my list for the winter through Well Read Mom! I guess I love long books!

  89. I’ve read several of these books. “The Poisonwood Bible” comes up when anyone asks me which book is my favorite. “Cutting For Stone” is also at the top of my list!

  90. Cynthia says:

    I would add “Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell” by Susanna Clarke, one of my favourite long reads! I see you’ve already noted on your page about this book that the New York Times described it as “Hogwarts for grown-ups”, and I’d say that’s a fairly good description of it.

  91. Valerie says:

    I’d add Bryce Courtenay’s “The Power of One”. I read it in high school for summer reading and it still sticks with me. And it has one of the best endings I’ve ever read!

  92. Christie says:

    The longest book I’ve read- I think- is Jonathan Strange and Mr.Norrell by Susanna Clark. It is around 1,000 pages. It was a great book, but my book club chose it during the summer- when I easily read a dozen books and make up for lost time on my goodreads challenge. Not that summer!!!
    I’ve read a number of books on this list- A Fine Balance was so spectacular, and The Poisonwood Bible is one of my all time favorites.

  93. Christie says:

    And one that I love that is not included is The Woman in White by Wilke Collins. SO.GOOD. 642 pages. It’s sort of a Sense and Sensibility era thriller.

  94. Rachel Elizabeth says:

    Lonesome Dove or one of the HP novels is probably the longest I’ve read. Lonesome Dove totally should be on this list!

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