20 terrific tomes to add to your TBR (or teetering to-read tower)

Readers, I have to admit: when I’m looking for my next great book to read, the longer the book, the more encouragement I need to pick it up.

This hasn’t always been the case: when I was a teen and twenty-something, I loved long books: the longer the better. I would deliberately seek out those tomes that stretched towards 1,000 pages or more—because if I was reading a good book, why would I want it to end?

As I’ve gotten older, my love of long books has waned: if I can only make it through so many pages in my life, I can make it through more books if I choose shorter ones.

However. I still love a big, fat, meaty doorstop of a book, especially in the summertime. A 500+ page behemoth can pack in more characters, more meaty plot lines, and more interesting complications than your standard 300 page novel, simply because it has the space to do so.

Today I’m sharing 20 books—mostly, but not all, novels—that hover around the 500-page mark (or, in some cases, greatly exceed it). I’ve already read and loved most of these, but I also include several long books still on my TBR. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these titles—because like I said, I need encouragement to pick up a hefty tome, even if it’s rumored to be terrific. And of course, we want to hear your favorite long books in comments.

20 terrific tomes for your TBR: books I've read
What Alice Forgot

What Alice Forgot

I had NO IDEA this book was so long, because it moves so quickly! Moriarty's works are compulsively readable: whenever I get my hands on a new one I inhale it in two days. Alice is 29, expecting her first child, and crazy in love with her husband—or at least she thinks she is, but then she bumps her head and wakes up on the gym floor, to find that she’s actually a 39-year-old mother of 3 who’s in the middle of divorcing the man she’s come to hate. She doesn’t know what’s happened to her these past 10 years, or who she’s become. She’s about to find out. I spreed through this like it was the fluffiest chick lit, but found myself mulling over its themes for weeks after I finished. 546 pages. More info →
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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

If you're new to this novel, brace yourself: Francie Nolan is about to win you over. Her Irish Catholic family is struggling to stay afloat in the Brooklyn slums, in the midst of great change at the turn of the century, while her charismatic but doomed father is literally drinking himself to death. But Francie is young, sensitive, imaginative, and determined to make a life for herself. A moving story of unlikely beauty and resilience, wistful, satisfying, and heart-wrenching. 528 pages. More info →
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The Time in Between

The Time in Between

Couture, romance, and ... espionage. This unusual Spanish novel earned its own episode of One Great Book. 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. The translated dialogue is a little bumpy in places, but the story is worth it. 626 pages. More info →
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The story centers around a smart, strong-willed Nigerian woman named Ifemelu. After university, she travels to America for postgraduate work, where she endures several years of near-destitution, and a horrific event that upends her world. She finds her way, winning a fellowship at Princeton, and gaining acclaim for her blog, called “Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes) by a Non-American Black." A highlight: Adichie seamlessly weaves blog posts—about race, national identity, class, poverty, and hair—into the narrative. The novel grapples with difficult issues without becoming overwrought. I would not have read this based on the flap copy, but I was hooked from page one. Haunting, moving, incredibly well done. Terrific on audio. 610 pages. More info →
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The Shell Seekers

The Shell Seekers

This family saga tells the story of three generations of a modern British family, brought together again during a time of crisis. The action moves between Cornwall and London, and between past and present, spanning the period from Penelope’s childhood between the wars to Pilcher’s current day, the 1980s. Pilcher aimed to write a “big, fat novel” and this one spreads out over 600 admirably paced pages, giving the reader ample time to get to know her interesting, well-developed, flawed-but-likable characters. Stay tuned for a future episode of One Great Book! 654 pages. More info →
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Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital

Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital

A brilliant, difficult book—easy to read, but the content will make you want to weep for humanity. This meticulously researched, journalistic account of what went down in the aftermath of Katrina reads like a novel and won the Pulitzer to boot. The setting is New Orleans' Memorial Medical Center, which lost electricity in the wake of the storm—and a hospital can't function as it should without power, which forced the medical personnel to make incredibly difficult decisions. But were they the right ones? (No.) So good and so readable, but so very sad. 546 pages. More info →
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Angle of Repose

Angle of Repose

This enthralling story spanning four generations is based on real events, and offers a fascinating look at both one family's history and the history of the American West. The narrator is Lyman Ward, an injured, wheelchair-bound man who fills his days by working on a history of his grandparents, and much of this "history" is the novel the reader holds. This interesting structure invites the reader to come alongside the narrator as he tries to puzzle out what really happened between his grandparents many years before, and as he reflects on what makes a friendship or a marriage work—and what may cause it to fail. 674 pages. More info →
I Know This Much Is True

I Know This Much Is True

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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East of Eden

East of Eden

My high school English teacher assigned us The Grapes of Wrath instead, so I didn't read this until a few years ago. This story has it all: love, poverty, wealth, war, betrayal, abandonment, murder. An epic tale of the Trasks and Hamiltons, two families doomed to reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel’s rivalry across generations. Steinbeck examines class, identity, and what happens when we are denied love. Grounded thoroughly in its California setting, Steinbeck's magnum opus feels tragic, yet hopeful. 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.") 620 pages. More info →
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Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China

Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China

Jung Chang writes a sprawling true history of three generations of women in twentieth-century China: herself, her mother, and her grandmother. Wild Swans gives a big picture account of Mao Zedong’s impact on China with the real life effect on Chang’s family. Parts of this are horrifying but it is just as much a story of courage and resilience. 713 pages. More info →
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The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth Book 1)

The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth Book 1)

N.K. Jemisin is one of the most notable science fiction writers of our time. Everyone is trying to survive the Stillness’s unforgiving, unstable environment as the next Fifth Season approaches. With stellar world-building, we follow three girls trying to make their way as the catastrophic threat looms ever closer. Exploring systematic oppression and the gift of found families, it’s easy to see why The Fifth Season has garnered so much praise. The trilogy clocks in at 1424 pages. 512 pages. More info →
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In this sweeping domestic drama, 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. 496 pages. More info →
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Resistance Women

Resistance Women

This May 2019 release (and Summer Reading Guide selection) is the newest book on the list. Chiaverini's novel was inspired by the life of Mildred Harnack, a real historical figure whose story was previously untold because the U.S. government deliberately buried it after the war. Harnack was one of dozens of members of the network of American and German resistance fighters the Gestapo called die Rote Kapelle (Red Orchestra). The bulk of the action takes places between the wars, beginning in 1929; I was initially surprised that a novel about Nazi Germany before and during WWII began SO early, but Chiaverini's chosen timeline serves her story well: as a reader, you see events escalate over time through these women’s eyes: first they’re incredulous, then increasingly horrified, all the while asking each other, what do we do? The setup feels leisurely but the payoff is worth it. 608 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. I love Kingsolver; this is one of her best. 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. 570 pages. More info →
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I haven’t yet read these titles, but they’re plenty long and high on my TBR. (If you’ve read them, share your thoughts in comments?)

20 terrific tomes for your TBR: to be read
The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo

Meredith surprised me by raving about this on episode 11 of What Should I Read Next, because I'd always thought of it as a dry, dusty classic. Since then I've discovered lots of her fellow readers who adore it. They describe it as a darn good story, about a man thrown into prison for a crime he didn't commit and his quest for retribution. 1276 pages. More info →


Set in 1984 Tokyo, a woman enters a parallel universe, while a ghostwriter takes on a project that's not what it seems. The two storylines converge over the course of the year, exploring fantasy, self-discovery, religion, love, and loneliness. The translation itself has been highly praised. On my TBR because a friend who loves it calls it "the longest book you'll never, not once, lose interest in." 925 pages. More info →
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration

This is one of the few nonfiction works on this list, from the first African American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for journalism. An essential read about a slice of forgotten American history detailing the decades-long migration of almost six million black citizens from the South to the North and West between 1915 and 1970, hoping for a better life, and how their resettlement changed the face of America. Wilkerson focuses on the stories of three individuals, giving us both an intimate portrayal and Big Picture view of what they experienced and how this changed the country. Listen to Traci Thomas rave out this book in Episode 162 of What Should I Read Next: The best bad ending you'll ever read. 622 pages. More info →
The Priory of the Orange Tree

The Priory of the Orange Tree

What’s not to love about an intersecting tale about an unmarried queen who must bear a daughter to save her kingdom, a spy posing as a lady-in-waiting, and a dragonrider? Fantasy is often composed of series and this standalone is a welcome exception. 846 pages. More info →
Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orisha Book 1)

Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orisha Book 1)

Magic is forbidden in Orïsha but Zélie Adebola remembers and now she has a chance to bring it back and bring down the monarchy. I downloaded this as an audiobook when it first came out; it clocks in at nearly 18 hours. 537 pages. More info →
The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South

The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South

Renowned culinary historian Michael Twitty traces his family roots (both Black and white) from Africa to America and the history of Southern cuisine in this richly drawn memoir. I've had this ARC on my nightstand since well before the book was published. 477 pages. More info →

How would you describe your relationship with long books? What titles would you add to this list?

P.S. 20 extra-long and totally readable books, and 20 extra-long audiobooks so you can get the most out of those credits. We also discuss the merits of long books in this episode of What Should I Read Next (#173: Clocking in at the reading factory).

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Leave A Comment
  1. Angie says:

    I absolutely LOVE The Shell Seekers, but my favorite Pilcher novel (also a hefty one) is Coming Home. I’ve read is several times over the years…it’s my “comfort” book. 😊

    • Laura says:

      I am actually revisiting The Shell Seekers on audio right now! It makes a lovely accompaniment to my commute. I love Coming Home, too. Those two are definitely my favorites, with September and Winter Solstice sharing second place.

    • Laura says:

      I quit The Shell Seekers after about 100 pages because I found the characters to be so unlikable. Do they change as the story progresses? I’m willing to give it another try!

        • Susan Clark says:

          Give The Shell Seekers another chance….the characters grow on you (except maybe the son?) it’s one of my top ten books I ever read……I just felt like I was in the cottage having tea by the fire or on the island when she goes to visit her daughter!

    • Lou Ann Darras says:

      I just finished listening to the Shell Seekers; the narration is quite good. I found it to be a bit “romance novel” in tone at times (a bit heavy handed) but I enjoyed the mystery and I really identified with the main character who is my current age. I am glad I took the time to listen to this.

    • Kitty Balay says:

      I love Coming Home, too! It’s one of my very few re-reads. I’ve also re-read Winter Solstice. Rosamund Pilcher is definitely a comfort read!

      • Joy in Alabama says:

        I reread Coming Home about every other year and Winter Solstice often, too. I adore Rosamunde Pilcher!

    • Trish Harrison says:

      I totally agree about “ Coming Home”. I wanted to move in and live there. I always buy a copy when I see a secondhand one so I can give it to people. Also, Don’t forget Winter Solstice and September.

  2. Lindsay says:

    Gentle reminder that “wheelchair-bound” is typically not preferred by the disability community. Try to use people-first language, like “a man who used a wheelchair.”

        • Cynthia says:

          I have read several of these and agree with you about long books…they are soooo fabulous once started, but sometimes hard to get started. I have been meaning to get Five Days at Memorial and this is the push I needed. What about the Outlander series?

          • Ann says:

            I’ve really been meaning to re-read the Outlander books in preparation for the 9th one coming out in November,

            I think Diana Gabaldon’s Facebook page is leading readers through them. I read somewhere they’ve just started Dragonfly In Amber.

            I’ve read them all & loved them. But they are long. I tried to start, but felt too distracted. May try again!!

            I really need a hardback copy of Dragonfly. I am picky about what I hold in my hands and only have a big floppy paperback of that one.

            I’ve preordered a signed copy of Bees 🐝

      • Brittany says:

        It’s important to be mindful of how to speak to people respectfully and using inclusive language. I am glad Lindsay took the time to make this clarification.

    • Felicia Thomas says:

      I just picked up Americanah at my library’s book sale. Adding Five Days At Memorial and a few others to my TBR.

    • Chelsea says:

      I work with the geriatric community, and “wheelchair bound” has been perfectly acceptable in all of my experience.

    • Elle says:

      My two disabled friends do not like people-first language. They say there is nothing shameful about disability. It may be a case-by-case basis sort of thing.

      • Stephanie Mass says:

        I use a wheelchair, and I–personally– prefer “person who uses a wheelchair” to “wheelchair bound.” There’s nothing shameful about disabilities, no, but I feel that person first language highlights that it’s just one piece of who I am. I know that different people see it differently thought.

  3. Janna says:

    The longer the better for me! The Shell Seekers is one of my all time favorite books–I’ve also loved all Rosamunde Pilcher’s books–and they are all long!

  4. Joan Odean says:

    I have read several of these including The Time In Between, which I loved. The audiobook of this is also stellar!

  5. Suzy says:

    Has anyone read lately And Ladies of the Club? My favorite in my 20’s, about a Book Club and the ladies lives. Curious how it holds up. Better check Goodreads.

    • Pam says:

      Yes! I remember it as a great read, too. I’ve held onto my paperback all these years, even as I’ve done major purges in recent years of read books, viewed movies, etc. Time for a reread! See how it holds up.

      • Chelsey Crouch says:

        My husband picked up Priory of the Orange Tree on a whim before vacation and finished it in a few days. He loved it so we kept it so I can read it. I was a little overwhelmed at the number of characters but the author does a good job of helping you keep it straight. If my kids weren’t home all day, all I’d be doing was reading it!

    • Laura says:

      I read it last summer and it was a life saver during a difficult time. It was slow to start, but once in that world, the lives of the ladies of the club and their families were always on my mind!

    • Deborah Williams says:

      I read And Ladies of the Club back in my 20s, too. I loved it! I still have it on my shelf, and while I’ve not re-read it again, I still pick it up now and again to revel in it’s heft. 😋

  6. Kristen Perschon says:

    I liked children of blood and bone. It took me a few chapters to get into it, but after that it didn’t feel like a long read.

  7. Jess says:

    The Shell Seekers is one of my all-time favorites, I read it annually. The only one on your TBR I’ve read is 1Q84- definitely worth the commitment (and I normally don’t even like magical realism!).
    Angle of Repose, East of Eden, and The Poisonwood Bible are all ones I’ve been meaning to get to.

  8. Rebecca says:

    And now my TBR is so much longer…thank you for so many great suggestions! I don’t have a favorite tome, maybe the Outlander books, but I will forever remember my first: The Mists of Avalon. I spent a good chunk of a summer at Lake George reading it and it was pure heaven!

  9. Lyndsey G says:

    11/22/63 is a long one, but I recommend it all the time, even to those who don’t have much interest in Stephen King. The time travel aspect is unique, it’s not the horror/gory stuff King is known for, and the added love story was a surprisingly nice addition.
    I’m also wanting to read The Stand and just need to push myself to do it.

    • Heather says:

      Yes! Another vote for 11/22/63 – a surprisingly fast and engrossing read. If you could go back in time – could you change history?

    • Deborah Williams says:

      Loved 11/22/63. This is my fav Stephen King. Oddly enough, it’s not classic SK, yet it’s my favorite. Go figure. The Stand is a very satisfyingly Stephen Kingish kinda read. I guarantee you’ll love it.

    • Lynn says:

      I agree-not normally a Stephen King teader, but thought 11/22/63 was outstanding. Later watched the James Franco version-the book was better of course but still enjoyed.

    • Angie says:

      11/22/63 is one of my all time favorite books! I was reading through the comments just to see if someone mentioned The Stand. I highly recommend it! It’s like 900 pages but you fly though it and can’t put it down!

    • Janet says:

      My book club read 11/22/63, and I really liked the flow and format of the story. However, I found myself often irritated by his portrayal of Texas, especially that era. There were some prominent anachronisms, and the characters and culture did not ring true to what I knew growing up in Texas (born here in 1965 & have lived here all my life). It just felt like he was painting a detailed picture of a place he’s never visited.

  10. Margaret says:

    The Warmth of Other Suns is one of the best books I’ve read in years. Should be required reading for all Americans!

  11. Barbara says:

    I slogged through 1Q84 and felt my time was wasted. I didn’t care about the characters and the sex was off-putting. I listened on Audible and wish I had spent that 30 hours on something else.

      • Kim says:

        Rosamunde Pilcher is one of my all time favorites! I’m reading Kate Mosse ‘s Labyrinth and am really enjoying it! I started it once before but got sidelined. I started over because I want to remember everything. I finally found a copy of Outlander at Goodwill so that’s in my pile as well! I’ll only read 500+ books that I can actually hold in my hands. Oh, and all of Justin Cronin’s Passage trilogy! So good!!!

  12. Stacie says:

    I have had copies of Lonesome Dove and The Name of the Wind waiting for me for quite some time. I think the Reading Challenges that motivate me to read and also spread my wings in terms of genres and topics also hold me back.

    BTW Wild Swans is positively WONDERFUL. Years ago I had a book club with women of widely divergent tastes. This book hit the holy grail of unanimously adored by all. It’s a biography/autobiography but it reads like a thriller. SOOO good!

    • Lonesome Dove has been on my bedside TBR stack for years! It’s intimidating, but sooooo many people love it!
      I also have to second Angle of Repose. I read it maybe 20 years ago and I still think about it!

      • Susan Clark says:

        Erin – I just purchased Lonesome Dove!! I am trying to pick a good time to read it….fall maybe? I have (like you) have read “so many” great reviews about it. Good luck! Hope you like it and get through it!😊

    • Melissa Bratland says:

      Yes, yes, yes! Such a wonderful book–a Top 10 favorite of mine. Just picked it up this morning for a reread, after I just finished a reread of The Shell Seekers–another Top 10 favorite! I guess I am in the mood for big book rereads!

      • Susan Clark says:

        I have had Pillars of the Earth on my bookshelf for 7 years – I have picked it up and started it 3 different times but only the first chapter. I know so many people love the entire series so I will give it another try after reading Lonesome Dove….

  13. Elexa says:

    1Q84 is my favorite book 😍 It kind of meanders in a delicious way. Magical realism, unanswered questions, vivid descriptions. I love this book so much! It’s also great on audio if you can handle a 46+ hour audiobook.

  14. Nancy says:

    Thanks for the recs! As for your TBR list- regarding 1Q84- Id say only read it if you really love Murakamis style. It’s definitely meandering and mystical and odd. I love his work but I never recommend it. This one was slightly repetitive too I thought. Then again you have no problem stopping a book if it’s not your thing so I guess there’s no risk! 🙂

    • Elexa says:

      I would agree to this. I love it, but I wouldn’t suggest anyone start with it if they’re new to Murakami. The Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is a better place to start. The book starts with him reminiscing about his best friends all with color names (White, Black, Red, Blue – he was “colorless”) and how they all stopped talking him when they went to college and he has no idea why. Someone urges him to find out and the results are strange and stunning.

  15. Lauren says:

    I read Kristin Lavransdatter over the winter and really enjoyed it! It’s close to 1000 pages and, with the exception of one slow section towards the end, I could not put it down!

    • Mimi says:

      I loved Kristin Lavransdatter also. It was so relatable in spite of being written almost a century ago about a woman in the Middle Ages.

  16. Amy says:

    Great list. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is one of my absolute favorites. I read Poisonwood Bible last year and I’ve actually been wanting to read it again. East of Eden is sitting on my kitchen. Angel of Repose is on my list. I keep seeing I Know This Much is True and almost picked it up at the library last night. Ooooo I’m getting excited to dig into a long one because right now short novels, and I mean barely breaking 200 pages, have been my sanity.

  17. Allison Wolfe says:

    Love a big hefty book! But like you, I tend to sometimes go for quantity (meaning shorter books) so my Books Read List is longer and I feel more accomplished.
    I’ve got my eye on a big fat book called Wanderers by C. Wendig. Looks intriguing. Has anyone read it? Being called a masterpiece and compared to King’s The Stand, which is another long book to get lost in.

    • Katy says:

      I just finished Wanderers last week. It was definitely a page-turner and I was so curious to see what was going on as the story developed. I had different theories every night as more was revealed! After finishing it, I kept mulling over what I’d read, and wished I could have had someone to discuss it with. All of that being said, I’m not going around recommending it indiscriminately because it has some quirks. Wendig has a very obvious world view he is writing from and you’re either going to agree with him or be rankled by it.The problem for me was he wants to make sure you haven’t forgotten his position every few pages – it gets a little tiring at times. Also, I wish I had known there was a rape scene in the middle of the book – It took me totally by surprise and ruined my reading night. I absolutely do not want to put you off reading it if the story sounds like your thing, because overall it was a compelling read and there’s all sorts of discussion starters!

  18. Jen says:

    I loved Children of Blood and Bone! The next book in the series comes out soon, so maybe time it’s placement on your TBR stack accordingly. 😉

  19. Lisa Henson says:

    I devoted 30 years of my life to reading Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, so clearly I’m okay with long books! I swear, each successive book got longer. Fourteen volumes. But what a read!

    I’ve added several of these to my want-to-read list.

  20. Laura says:

    I read The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish with my book club and while it was not a perfect book, it made for some really good discussion. I never would have picked it up on my own, but I’m glad I read it.

  21. Meg says:

    You’re missing my all time fave that’s 6 or 700 pages – John boyne’s THE HEARTS INVISIBLE FURIES. So, so wonderful, I flew through it.

  22. Kate says:

    I am currently reading, and loving, The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo, which comes in at 544 pages (or avg 10+ hours on the Kindle). If you love a multigenerational family saga, try this.

    • Jan says:

      I’m actually reading this book right now as well! I didn’t realize how long it was when I first got it as a download and was surprised to see the page count but I’m enjoying it.

  23. Donna Manning says:

    I’ve been wanting to read And Ladies of the Club – another long one. Has anyone read it? Is it worth reading? Thank you!

    • Ruthanne says:

      I read And Ladies of the Club year’s ago and remember it so fondly whenever it’s mentioned or when I see a copy of it. The characters were interesting and the place in history added to it for me.

  24. Brenda says:

    Our book club read – and loved – What Alice Forgot. I thoroughly enjoyed it myself. Will be adding a few of these 20 titles to my TBR pile – but will start with Poisonwood as I already own it! Thanks as always for the adds!!

  25. Lin E says:

    Unfortunately, I have not been a long book reader. So I was surprised to see What Alice Forgot on this list. I loved this book and it was so interesting that I didn’t even notice it was long.

    • Donna says:

      So glad to see Pilcher getting some love on here! “Coming Home” is marvelous. So many big and memorable books came out in the 80s!

      I second “The Far Pavilions.”

      I’ll add to the list “Gone With the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell, “The Winds of War” by Herman Wouk (the sequel, “War and Remembrance” is also excellent, but sadder), and “The Bronze Horseman” by Paullina Simons.

  26. Kath Kathy B says:

    I really enjoyed your list! The Angle of Repose by Stegnar is a lifetime favorite. I have yet to read 100 years of Solitude because of the length of the book. Marquez is a master.
    The original THORNBIRDS is a big long book that’ s worth it to Irish Catholic folk.
    I’d add: The Evening Star by Larry McMurtry. I can hear the conversations in the room when I read it. It is the sequul to Terms of Endearment.

  27. Thank you for your recommendations. Of the ones I am familiar with, East of Eden remains one of the best novels I have read. I am currently reading Lethal White ( have enjoyed this series very much) and have a copy of The Shell Seekers in my TBR stash. Thanks to all for your input.

  28. Kelly Rinehart says:

    Ann, Thank you so much for the recommendations! This is my year of long books, so this is right up my alley. You must listen to Children of Blood and Bone. I remember you are a Bahni Turpin fan and she does a fabulous job with this book. I had no idea it was so long! It was enthralling.

  29. The Shell Seekers was my grandmother’s favorite novel and I found her copy not long ago and read it a second time; she’s been gone for 10 years. Such a great book and how sweet it was to read it again and think of her reading it! I also love The Poisonwood Bible; have read it three times. That book made me want to write my own novels. I wanted to create characters and a setting for them to live and struggle and learn and love as rich as that one. To your great list here I would add Ahab’s Wife (668 pages) by Sena Jeter Naslund and Cutting For Stone (667 pages) by Abraham Verghese.

  30. Leslie says:

    The Warmth of Other Suns took me awhile to get through, and I alternated listening to it on audio and reading it, but it was so worth it. I’ve thought about the stories many times, and it clarifies so much about the demographic shifts and history in the U.S. I also listened to Children of BLood and Bone with my daughter. We loved it, and the audio made it come alive. We are excited for the next book. I have had Americanah, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and The Shell Seekers on my TBR for awhile. A few other long books that have stuck with me were Kristin Lavransdatter, In this House of Brede, and Cutting for Stone.

  31. Linda says:

    I am reading a series by Sara Donati. These are very long, but page turners to the end. The first in the series that I’m reading is “Into The Wilderness”. You might add these to your reading list.

  32. Muffet Michlitsch says:

    The Century Trilogy by Ken Follett- each of the three are over 1000 pages(I think). Fall of Giants was my favorite but all 3 are amazing.

    • Sue says:

      I loved the Pillars of the Earth trilogy by Ken Follett, and I have the first 2 books in this series on my shelf and just haven’t gotten around to reading them. Hopefully this will give me the push I need to get started!

  33. Stephanie says:

    One of my favorite books of ALL TIME is Five Smooth Stones by Ann Fairbairn. First published in 1966…still so relevant today! I’ve read it twice. Life Changer. I challenged by Book Club to read it a few years ago. One of our all time favorites we discussed!!! Anne…you MUST read this book!!! Also, I would add Pillars of the Earth to this list…and World Without End. Those books are pretty epic.

  34. Barb says:

    I’ve added it before but “A Suitable Boy’ by Vikram Seth is one of the longest books in the English language (1349 pages). If you like Rohinton Mistry, this might grab you. But the book is HEAVY. I eventually read it at the table so I wouldn’t have to hold it.

    • Caroline says:

      I was over halfway through “A Suitable Boy” when I had hand surgery to replace my thumb joint. That is when I discovered how heavy this book really was. I tried to get a Kindle version but it wasn’t available. So I managed with pillows and one hand and glad I did. I loved the book.

  35. Michelle Wilson says:

    The Warmth of Other Suns is a magnificent book. I read it when it was first published and am currently listening to the audio version for a book group that I am hosting. Even though it is history, it is written like a story and is just fantastic.

  36. Judy Burkavage says:

    What a great list! …and so many more suggestions in comments!
    Two of my all-time-top-10 are Poisonwood Bible (I have at least 100 stickers marking Kingsolver’s beautifully written sentences or profound thoughts!) and I Know This Much is True. As a mother of identical twins, this book captivated me in every way. Wally Lamb is an amazing author!
    I would add A Woman of Substance, a book to get lost in! Bradford’s best, imho.

  37. Elsie says:

    Dickens is my favourite for long, intricate, well-developed novels. I completely get what you mean about it feeling like a commitment, though. But once I’m hooked to a long novel, I realise I put it off too long and that it seems not so daunting after all!

    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn has been on my list for awhile, after I heard that the main character is supposedly an INFJ like me. I know it will be worth the read!

  38. Janelle Carlson says:

    What a terrific list, Anne! Coincidentally, I’m currently reading The Most Fun We Ever Had, and agree that getting immersed in a big book is very satisfying. Another recent read was Prince of Tides, which is so beautifully written that it didn’t feel like 576 pages. I’ve read some of the titles you’ve listed here (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn & Poisonwood Bible are among my all-time favorites) and others are now being scheduled in my TBR, including one I’m embarrassed to say I never have read (looking at you, East of Eden!)

  39. Kim says:

    Pachinko, poisenwood bible, I know this much is true, a tree grows in Brooklyn, She’ll Seekers and Americanah are very worth the read! Enjoy!

  40. Elizabeth Whittaker says:

    I just finished Resistance Women and I am blown away. I am ashamed to say I had never heard of Mildred Fish-Harnack or any of the other resistance members, before reading this book. To give your life for the love of your country is the greatest sacrifice any woman or man can give. She went up against Hitler and helped bring him down. I am so proud she is an American and am saddened that the US did not do more to recognize her efforts. It is a page turner that makes you angry, makes you weep, and makes you proud to be a woman. 5 STARS

  41. I’m similar to you in that I need quite a bit of convincing to take on a long book because of “so many books, so little time.” But then I am reminded that A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was a long book and I can’t imagine not reading it (I got my husband to read it this summer since I loved it so much!). I’ve also debated reading “The Warmth of Other Suns.” I’ve also debated reading “City of Dreams.” It’s a 768 pg book about the immigrant history of NY. I feel like I need to read one or both of these books so I can speak more knowledgeably about racial inequity and the history of immigration in the US… but that means reading fewer books in 2019 since they are both tomes that will take some time to get through! But it’s probably worth it in the end as I really need to acquire that knowledge!

  42. Betsy says:

    I would add A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. It’s a heft book and one of my all time favorites. Not for the faint of heart though. I am getting ready to read Deep River by Karl Marlantes (820 pgs.). I’ve heard wonderful things about it.

  43. Katie says:

    The Warmth of Other Suns is one of the best books I have ever read. I recommend it to everyone. I’m not generally a fan of non-fiction, it can take a lot of effort to get through even the most interesting of non-fiction books. This one however, reads like a novel. I’ve re-read it twice and recommend it to everyone I know. It made me think about issues and ideas, I hadn’t ever considered and it still sits with me. You should bump it up your TBR 🙂

  44. Thanks so much for the suggestions! I was glad to see Rosamunde Pilcher’s name on the list. I love The Shell Seekers as well as its sequel, September. And Coming Home is one of my favorite novels. WWII fiction is having quite a day right now, and Coming Home is one of my favorite books in that genre. All the Light We Cannot See is another long read, but beautiful. And I absolutely love The Winds of War and War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk–compelling novels and historically accurate. Other long reads that I love are Tom Clancy’s novels (those actually written by Clancy, not those just using his name in recent years).

    For non-fiction, I’m not much of a fan of 500+ page books. Seabiscuit and Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand are almost that long, and honestly I’d read anything written by Hillenbrand–she’s such an amazing writer. And The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard is over 400 pages, but it’s worth every moment spent reading (and re-reading).

  45. Charla says:

    A 500+ page book I would recommend is The Son by Philipp Meyer. I read it 5+ years ago and still think of it from time to time. I don’t normally read Westerns (Lonesome Dove is still on my TBR.) but I loved this one!

  46. Elle says:

    I just bought The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo, not knowing how big it is, and the size is intimidating me! But I keep reading great reviews on Bookstagram, comparing it to the Parenthood tv show. So, I’ll just have to put a pillow on my lap when I read it. There’s no way I can hold that puppy up for long!

    • sarah says:

      Elle I am in the second half of this and it reads so quickly and once you start if you like character driven stories you won’t want to put it down. This is the best book I’ve read in a long long time.

  47. Leigh says:

    My favorite book of all time is a long book-540 pages, Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer. It is a sweeping family saga inhabited by characters from two rival families that I came to love. I cried when I finished it because I did not want to say good bye to these people. I read this book over 40 years ago and it is still to this day my favorite. It was long but didn’t seem too long because it was so engaging and gripping. Highly recommend.

    Someone above mentioned Tom Clancy’s books and I agree. The ones he actually wrote are the best, full of political and military intrigue. They can be a bit technical but that just fills out the story for me. The movies made from his books (The Hunt For Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger) are good but the books are better, especially Red October.

  48. Brittney says:

    I’ve been rather slowly reading Kristin Lavransdatter – which is a trilogy, but I bought the one large book. It’s really stunning, and although I’m only about half way through, I love it so far. It’s a total 1,144 pages, and to make it more bearable, I read a few hundred pages then switch to something else for a bit. I normally don’t like to do that, but it’s been easy with this book, since I’ve never read anything even remotely like it.

  49. Kristin says:

    For readers who like a little bit of fantasy, the three books in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series (really any Sanderson book) are over 500 pages, and the two books released in Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles trilogy are over 600 pages. I really enjoyed both though I don’t often read fantasy.

    I’ve also heard great things about The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova so I added it to my TBR (my copy is 642 pgs).
    Five Days at Memorial has been on my TBR for quite some time, but I haven’t been able to get ahold of a copy D:

    Oh, we can’t forget that several of the Harry Potter series are also 500+ pages 😀

  50. sarah says:

    All the fun we ever had clocks in at 550. SOOOOOOO GOOD. if you like a good literary character driven story about family this one is for you!!!! sooo good. like Wally Lamb good.

  51. Anna says:

    “The Warmth of Other Suns” is probably the best book I have read in 2019. The stories keep the book moving along, and make you want to keep reading. I was impressed by the depth of research and interviews the author did to get those true stories, and moved by the history that they reveal. I highly recommend it.

  52. Edie says:

    Loved Wild Swans and Angle of Repose. I’d also add The Brothers K by David James Duncan, A Given Day by Dennis LeHane and agreeing with others about the love for Lonesome Dove. Couldn’t believe I’d fall in love with a western. : )

  53. Jordan says:

    I stumbled across an audio copy of I Know This Much Is True in high school (think cassette tapes way back then 😂). I don’t remember it seeming that long on audio and I didn’t want to stop listening. Looking back I recognize that probably wasn’t appropriate material for a 15 year old but I just thought it sounded interesting at the time.

  54. Sue says:

    Doesn’t anybody read Jane Smiley anymore? I never see her mentioned. “A Thousand Acres”, Pulitzer Prize, remember? I keep recommending “Horse Heaven”, another of hers, but nobody listens. It sounds like a kid’s book, but it is NOT. It is incredibly well written, and if you have an ounce of horse-love, you’ll eat this up. Such wisdom, such insight, such character development. 561 pages. The audio is even better.

    • Ruth says:

      OMG, I love Jane Smiley and recommend Horse Heaven all the time – and no one listens to me either. Animals of all sorts get their due in this book.
      I also loved ‘Moo’ – so funny and spot on.
      I have ‘Some Luck’ sitting on my TBR shelf.

  55. Lori says:

    Children of Blood and Bone is so good! I don’t read as often as I would like to but this book was one of the few that I’ve ever read that made me think “Wow!” when I was finished with it.

  56. Meaghan says:

    I have to recommend Ken Follett and his historical fiction tomes! I particularly loved the Century Trilogy, which begins with WWI in “Fall of Giants.” Great storylines means this one flies by (I found myself reading in any and all small pockets of time I could find!).

  57. Laura says:

    Children of Blood and Bone – YES! YES! YES! It’s especially phenomenal on audio. Definitely read it! I’m eagerly awaiting #2. (Be glad you won’t have to wait super long because the ending is so terribly cliff-hangerly, you’ll be glad to get to read #2 sooner rather than later! I’ve been waiting for over a year!)Also, I recommend just hopping into the book and skipping the acknowledgements, author’s note, etc until the end. I was glad I’d listened to it on audio so that I could come to my own conclusions before hearing the author’s input after the fact.

  58. Cynthia says:

    I’ve read all of Murakami and 1Q84 is perhaps one of my favorites. It moves very quickly. Another tome of note is 1234 by Paul Auster. It follows a life from boyhood to manhood but in 4 different realities. It’s not difficult to keep track of who and what.
    I’m also a big Pilcher fan and have read all of her novels. I’ve read the Shell Seekers at least twice and I’m not a fan of romance novels. Hers are just different…

  59. Suzy Lowry says:

    I was hesitant about reading 1Q84 but my whole family read it so I had to try and I loved it. I did the audio book and it was fantastic. I was truly sad when it finished, it was such a good “Friend” on my long commute to work. Also loved Children of Blood and Bone, fantastic world building and great story. Both books were out of my normal reading genre and I’m so glad I stepped outside!

  60. Nancy Willard says:

    I also loved The Sleeping Dictionary by Sujata Massey that comes in at 528 pages.
    Americanah is one of my all time favorites, and Resistance Women is my newest favorite long tome.
    Of course I loved all the Pilcher novels, Tree Grows, Alice……..I do love doorstoppers!

  61. Wendy says:

    I have read The Shell Seekers and loved it. The Outlander books are wonderful. They build on each other, so start at the beginning— the first book in the series is Outlander.

  62. Marion says:

    I read “A Tree Grows In Brooklyn” years ago. It is one of my favorite books. Being from Brooklyn not far from Williamsburg made the book dearer to my heart.

  63. Joan says:

    “A Tree Grows In Brooklyn” I read when I was a young teenager. One of the best of all the books I have read.

  64. Ann McAuliffe says:

    I have read five of these and they are all favorites. I had twelve books on my o be read shelf at the beginning of the year and my goal is to finish them by the end of the year. I have five left and they are all longer books. I have decided to expect to read fewer books this year. I am also reading books from my list as I find them in the used book section of my favorite book store.

  65. I’m with you on finding it harder and harder to pick up long books the older I get—I usually have to have heard MANY glowing reviews in order to be convinced! One (long) book that surprised me was A Prayer For Owen Meany. I actually felt like much of the book was a slog and that it would never end, but that book has stayed with me FOREVER…to the point I’m actually considering rereading it, ha ha. My two long books on my TBR that I’ll for sure make time for are Les Miserables (I want to try the unabridged) and Gone With the Wind because…classics.

  66. Alicia says:

    I didn’t feel life What Alice Forgot was a tome either. (I also don’t feel Outlander is long either). Americanah is also good and The Poisonwood Bible is one of my favorite books.

    • Donna says:

      Can’t believe I forgot to mention this one earlier: “The Power of One” by Bryce Courtenay.

      I also nominate in the “looks cheesy but is actually amazing category”: “Forever Amber” by Kathleen Windsor. It is 972 pages. Interesting fact: this book went through five drafts, and the accepted manuscript is 1/5 the length of the original! If you like historical romance, don’t miss this one.

  67. Amy says:

    Thanks for giving me many more books to read! On your TBR list I’ve only read 1Q84 and it was a chore to get through. Truly one of the worst books I’ve ever read. Not worth your time at all.

    • Caroline says:

      I agree with you. The first half of the book was really good but then it slogged down, I think because there was too much repetition. I think there was a lot that could have been cut. I have read other books by Murakami which I loved so don’t give up on him!

  68. Janice Hoaglin says:

    I just finished The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish, and loved it. The 560 pages went quickly for me, as I was so engrossed in the story. It’s another with split time stories. One story features a Jewish woman in the 1650-1690’s in London, one of the few women who could both read and write, and whose passion was learning. The other story line is in 2000-2001, also in London, and tells of two historians who are trying to unravel the mystery of a writer who seemed to be an unknown philosopher/thinker. It is beautifully written.

  69. Charlene says:

    I read 1Q84 last summer and, though the writing was uniquely poetic, I really didn’t enjoy it at all. Neither I nor anyone else in my book club was able to trace any connection between it and 1984. Plus there were a number of graphic sex scenes that seemed mostly unnecessary to the plot.

  70. Lisa Hawkins says:

    Have read and highly recommend “Five Days at Memorial,” “Resistance Women,” and “The Warmth of Other Suns.” Also recommend “Grant” by Ron Chernow, “Becoming Mrs. Lewis” by Patti Callahan, “Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers Who Helped Win World War II” by Liz Mundy, and “The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote” by Elaine Weiss. The latter three are under 500 pages, but as long as we’re talking great nonfiction, these are some of the best I’ve read this year.

  71. Marilyn says:

    I grew up in Brooklyn, not far from Williamsburgh, so I can relate to ” A TREE GROWS In BRooklyn”. I just finished reading a large book:”Wives and Daughters” by Elizabeth Gaskell. It was 656 pages. I enjoyed the book immensely.

  72. Denette says:

    I am definitely in the minority here…I read both The Shell Seekers and Lonesome Dove this year and I didn’t like either of them. My mother-in-law gave me a copy of Wild Swans years ago and it has been just sitting on my shelf. This post has inspired me to pick it up soon!
    This year has been my year of “quantity” books so I have mainly read shorter books (with the exception of the two mentioned above). I am currently participating in my library’s reading challenge and I am almost done (wahoo!). Once I finish I definitely want to tackle some larger books when I don’t have the pressure of the challenge. Speaking of my challenge, I am going to read All the Light We Cannot See (531p) and Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card (672p), so I guess I have a couple of larger books in the queue! The Poisonwood Bible has been on my TBR list for ages…I think it’s time to get to it. I put all these books and all the books mentioned in the comments on my TBR list! Thanks for all the recs everyone!

  73. Peggy Kressin says:

    I also had decided to make this a summer of reading times! So far I have read The Shell Seekers and Americanah. I am now starting All the Light We Cannot See (not on your list but comes in at a hefty 530 pages.)

  74. Barbara says:

    Thank you for this list. When I (finally!) got to the end of I Know This Much is True, I wanted to go right back to the beginning and start again because it was so good and didn’t want to say good-bye to those characters. I would also add The Story of Edgar Sawtelle and The Goldfinch. I think both are worth the time commitment.

  75. I really don’t think all that much about how long a book is when I pick it up – the arrogance of youth, I guess? 😉 Unless it’s a *real* monster, like Don Quixote. I actually hadn’t realised that What Alice Forgot and Pachinko and a few of these others were 500+ pages… ah well, the more to read, the more the fun!

  76. Whit says:

    I enjoyed Cloud Atlas (545 pages). It’s a strange kind of dystopian, apocalyptic, sci-fi that tells six stories half way and then finishes them in reverse order. It tackles a lot and I found it wonderfully written.

  77. Jennifer says:

    HOW HAVE YOU NOT READ CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE! It is so amazing, I’m counting down the days till the next one. You really should put this on top of your teetering stack!

  78. Eileen says:

    Loved the Shell Seekers and others by Rosamunde Pilcher, have read and recommmend Kristin Lavransdatter, Gone With the Wind, and the Herman Wouk books. But the one I couldn’t put down was Wally Lamb’s I Know This Much is True. Also read Lamb’s The Hour I First Believed. Don’t think anyone’s mentioned Shogun by James Clavell. Read this while in college, loved it enough to read it twice.

  79. Jan W says:

    A great list of books! Of the books mentioned, I loved East of Eden, a beautiful read. I also love the works of Laura Hillenbrand. A Little Life is unbelievably good and moving. Lethal White is my favorite of the Cormoran Strike series. Did anyone watch the TV series of the first 3 books? I may be in the minority here but I did not like the Poisonwood Bible. Two very long books on my TBR list are The Nix and Infinite Jest. Also planning on reading The Shell Seekers and the Outlander series one of these days.

  80. Ellen Cole says:

    Add me to the Rosamund Pilcher Fan Club. When reading this post, I was SHOCKED to learn that The Shell Seekers is so long! It’s the example I use whenever a conversation turns to books we don’t want to end. I remember specifically feeling so incredibly sad to arrive at the final page. Mind you this was 30+ years ago! I listened to the audiobook more recently and loved it just as much. I also listened to Winter Solstice last December and The Empty House last month and loved them both. I have September, but haven’t yet read it…maybe this September? I also have the Coming Home audiobook.

  81. Shannon says:

    I really loved Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. I loved the intricate ties between all the characters and the circles of the story. The movie was ok,the play even better, but the book was so much more. And Goodreads says it has over 1400 pages.

  82. Erika says:

    I’ve read some of these and had several on my list already. I added a few more and am especially looking forward to reading Wild Swans. Thanks for the suggestions!

  83. Laura says:

    I’m just about exactly in the middle of East of Eden right now (page 305!) and it feels so refreshing to be reading a nice dense, meaty work of literature after a run of quicker, lighter fare this summer. I have to say that although I am loving it (and once about 1/3 of the way in the plot started really driving me to turn the pages), I was (stupidly?) surprised at how much of the misogyny and racism of the period comes through in the text. Steinbeck was a great observer of society and culture, and I’ve ended up feeling torn between feeling aghast and in awe that he set these things down so clearly.

  84. Angela says:

    I’ve been thinking about my reading challenge for next year. This year, I went for quantity (47 by age 47–my birthday is in December and gives me a head start on my new year’s goals). 2020 is the year I’ll read a bunch of long books. Great suggestions!!

  85. KG says:

    Wait. What Alice Forgot was that long?! I read it years ago and loved it so much that if you’d asked me today, I would have guessed it was 280 pages!

  86. Sarah McCulloch says:

    There was a time when I would shy away from a long book of 400 pages + With only a very few read over the years: The Shell Seekers, which I loved, and The Poisonwood Bible to name two I recall. But lately I have found myself being Big and Brave and reading more long tomes. “A Little Life” by Nanye Yamagihara, The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver, I Know this Much is True and The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb (both great). I’m currently reading Americanah, and Have Lethal White in my TBR pile. And I’ve been inspired to explore more of Rosamund Pilcher’s novels from the comments here.

  87. Trish Harrison says:

    Some of my favourite tomes are:
    The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
    God is an Englishman by R. F. Delderfield
    Grapes of Wrath and Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
    Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

  88. Kendyle Mc Daniel Smith says:

    Ken Folletts Pillars of the Earth is a great historical fiction read and Overstory by Richard Powers (2019 Pulitzer for fiction winner, 2018 Man Booker winner) is an awesome read ( yes I know it’s only 467 pages LOL)

  89. Heather says:

    Currently listening to The Six Wives of Henry the VIII by Alison Weir. Great as an audiobook but also available on Kindle Unlimited for now. Nonfiction that reads like a novel.

  90. Jinny Johnson says:

    I am new to modernmrsdarcy.com but so enjoyed this article on long books. Sometimes I love the feeling a long books of leaving my life and jumping into another world. My favorite long book is “The Luminaries” by Eleanor Catton, a winner of the Booker Prize. It has 36 characters and is 848 pages in it, but is plot driven enough that you are constantly waiting to see what twist will happen next, and I was actually sorry when it was finished. Sounds daunting but was great!

  91. Beth says:

    N.K. Jemisin rocks! The Fifth Season was one of my summer vacation reads and it is great. Can’t wait to read more N.K. Jemisin.

  92. Sharon Rohan says:

    I loved Five Days at Memorial. Read it three times already, and planning to read it again next year. It’s one of those nonfiction books that reads like a novel.

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