Discussion: Do Big Books Intimidate You?

Today’s discussion post is brought to you by bringing home Lonesome Dove from the library and THEN realizing it was written in 1986! YIKES! 600* pages of 20th century American writing? Good luck to me…

*Did I say 600? It’s closer to 900.

So I notice a lot on social media, especially Bookstagram, that a lot of people talk about how intimidated they are by long books. This is often cited as the reason for purchasing but not reading The Priory of the Orange Tree and Jane Eyre in particular. And I get it, those books are long. I know a lot of people set massive reading goals for themselves, and it can be hard to read 20 books a month if one of them is 800 pages long. Even if that isn’t you, long books can be scary. What if you don’t like it? What if it’s long AND slow? What if it takes you forever and you have to give it back to the library before you’re done? What if you lose interest halfway through?

Personally, it’s never been much of a deterrent for me. Maybe it’s because I read The Lord of the Rings in 7th grade and therefore became immune, lol. Also, people don’t have any problem reading a series that goes on for 6+ books, and that’s a lot more to read. I just see my long books as a whole trilogy wrapped up in one convenient package! Also, it doesn’t get worse the longer it goes on, so double plus!

But, on the other hand, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m terrified of the idea of Lonesome Dove. I usually love long classics, but I’m not a huge fan of 20th century literature. And I’ve never read a Western. So I’m not sure if I’m going to like it, and it’s a really long book to slug through if I don’t…

If you’re intimidated by long books, my advice to you would be to worry less about that reading goal, and worry more about how happy a book makes you. If you think The Priory of the Orange Tree is going to blow your mind, stop focusing some arbitrary number you made up for yourself to read every year or month. If you’ve got a deadline looming for a review, try to read both at the same time. Maybe one in the morning one at night! Try break it into small, manageable chunks. I want to read this 800 page book in two weeks, so I need to read about 60 pages a day. EASY!

Also, just for fun, here is a list of some of my favorite long books:

  • The Lord of the Rings (obviously)
  • The Priory of the Orange Tree
  • Jane Eyre
  • The Mirror and the Light
  • The Name of the Wind
  • Harry Potter #4-7
  • The Count of Monte Cristo

Are you intimidated by long books? What are some of your favorite massive novels? Let me know in the comments!

46 thoughts on “Discussion: Do Big Books Intimidate You?

  1. All my friends and family gasp and give me googly eyes when they see me reading a long novel. They don’t intimidate me much – though I do get sore. Trying to actually hold the book to read it is a challenge. Nowadays, if I can help it, I also purchase an e-book copy of the long books so I can read it on my tablet… so much easier on my wrists. Down side to that is your battery runs down if you get sucked in to reading it for most of the day and you have to sit near an outlet with the charger in. I recently read ‘Winter’ in the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer and had a doozy of a time trying to hold that brick up at 827 pages. I ended up laying it on the table with a cup of tea, or resting it sideways on the mattress propped up by a pillow when reading in bed. Ah the trials and tribulations of being a bookworm.

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    1. Most of the time if they book is a whopper I lay it open on a table while I’m reading it. If the pages don’t stay down, a lot of times I’ll use my phone as a paper weight, lol.

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  2. I read Lonesome Dove last year, and I really enjoyed it. The writing wasn’t a barrier at all, and I appreciated how McMurtry didn’t turn his characters into caricatures, in spite of their lack of education. Also, I thought he nailed the speaking patterns of the people from the Great Plains.

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    1. I’m just getting started, and I’m finding it SUPER immersive, but also a little dull. Which, don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with a slow book, but I’m so sleepy lately.

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          1. The Game of Kings, which is the first of Dorothy Dunnet’s Lymond Chronicles. It’s kind of dense, with a lot going on at once and an old-fashioned kind of writing style, but once you get used to it, it goes by pretty quickly.

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  3. They can be intimidating but rewarding nonetheless. Cormac McCarthy’s Border novels are a trilogy but a whopping 1040 pages in one volume. I grew up reading Dickens and Chuzzlewit and Bleak House among others are huge doorstoppers! Lonesome Dove is a wonderful read to but watch out for Blue Duck…..

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  4. Jane Eyre never seemed that intimidating to me. Is it really that big? I feel Little Women is much bigger and everybody binged that this year because of the movie.
    I do worry about the size of books though. I think it’s exactly what you say why you are not though. I’m really bad at finishing trilogies in one go and often need a break from reading or a different book between the books of a series. That’s why I think big books are more of a problem (and the reason why I still haven’t read Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor). I would definitely have to take a break in the middle. I really have to work to increase my attention span somehow.

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    1. I don’t find Jane Eyre to be all that large, but then I love the romantics, and Dumas and Hugo wrote some woppers. But a lot of people on Instagram specifically bring it up. *shrug* I’m also really bad about finishing a series, which is why I prefer a long single volume.

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  5. I’m definitely intimidated on occasion. I think it happens more often if it’s by an author I’ve never read before therefore I’m nervous about whether I will like it or whether it will be a slow read. But most of the time I choose the book because I really want to read it, regardless of length. Great topic!

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  6. I agree with you LOTR does make one immune to long books. It was first series I read when I started reading in 2015. After that I picked series after series without thinking how long the book or series is. One easier way to read long books without being intimidated is read it simultaneously, as you said read only 50 pages a day.

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  7. Yes they do intimidate me! I can’t help but think about all the other books I could be reading and it’s like with big books some part of my mind wants some kind of guarantee that I’ll like it if that makes any sense πŸ™‚

    But than again there is a nice sense of accomplishment when you do finish them!

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  8. Sometimes long books intimidate me but other times I feel a sense of accomplishment when I finish it XD I have priory of an orange on my kindle. The fact that I can’t see how big it is is what terrifies me so much. I’m not sure why. I do love reading long books just so I can see my bookmark move along. It’s so satisfying to see my bookmark more than halfway through a big book. I feel cool. I’m not sure how to explain it XD
    -Amber

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    1. Haha, as long as we’ere talking about bookmarks… I’ve read about 100 pages of Lonesome Dove, and this morning my son looked at my bookmark and said “You’ve only read a few pages, right mommy.” *laughing, but also crying*

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  9. No they don’t intimidate me but I have to fall right into them from the beginning. If I must wait 100 pages before going to feel the book and the characters, I’ll DNF.

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  10. I honestly didn’t know that fear of long books was a thing until I start book blogging. Like, if you’re not a reader, fine, but if you are a voracious reader, why do you care how long a book is? (I, too, read a lot of epic fantasy, including LOTR, in middle school, so maybe that’s the common thread here.)

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    1. Same, it never occurred to me that a long book was something to be intimidated. I think it’s also worth pointing out that YA/MG books in my teen years were MASSIVE. The Eragon books were huge, the later Harry Potter books were big, even Twilight was pretty sizeable. These days YA/MG books aren’t as long.

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      1. I must be a few years older than you are – I was a preteen when HP1 came out, so my teen years were mostly over by the time the big YA resurgence happened and therefore, when I grew out of The Babysitter’s Club, jumped straight to adult fantasy. Which, in the 90s, mainly consisted of enormous books.

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        1. I think we’re probably about the same age. I agree, most of the chapter books I read in the 90s were very short. But when I was a teen and in my 20s (and still reading teen books) there was a lot of LONG YA/MG. Like you I mostly jumped straight to adult books as well, but I think I read most of the greatest hits of the 2000-2010 era.

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  11. Im not intimidated by them, but I do think twice about embarking on a really long book because its a big investment of time if I find I’m not that keen on the style, characters……

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  12. Whenever I am in a bookstore I am always drawn to the massive tomes – I love something that you wouldn’t want to drop on your toes. But, I do understand that some peoples reading time is limited and they don’t want to spend a week/month on one huge book when they could experience several.

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  13. I think what oftentimes deters me from reading long books is, in my humble opinion, most books don’t actually need to be 800 or more pages. I’ve slogged through many a long, rambling novel that could have been 200 or even 300 pages shorter without it negatively effecting the plot in anyway.

    I am of the belief that a book needs to justify its length. That isn’t to say I can’t read large books (most of my favorites clock in somewhere around 900-1,000 pages); nevertheless, I’m more reluctant to commit these days since I have so many books on my TBR list and so little time in which to read them.

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    1. I agree, I’ve definitely read some books that were longer than they needed to be. But I wouldn’t say I’ve read more rambly long books than amazing ones. Maybe about 50/50? And I’ve read some 300 page books that could have been 100 pages shorter too.

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  14. Because my mild dyslexia makes me a slow reader, big books do intimidate me. When they start getting over 300 pages, I sometimes balk at reading them. But sometimes, they just FLY by. For example, I just read a book that’s 400 pages (Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce) and I read it in record time! In fact, I had to STOP myself from reading it so I could get some sleep.

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  15. They do not exactly intimidate me….but really need to be good for me to like….many times authors just elongate a story to make the book a fat novel…and then the story drops at a point…..it happen to me once in awhile and sometimes I go into reading slumps when this happens….but I have many favourite big books !

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  16. The weird thing for me is that I often ended up loving a lot of long books (monte cristo and lotr are two of my faves and I’d also have to add war and peace to that list), but I also see them as a massive time commitment, which puts me off jumping into a lot of them all the time. I also have (naturally) read a lot of duds and they felt like even more of a slog because of their length (for instance, worst case scenario: it turns out to be another atlas shrugged) so I am also cautious about jumping into one- especially if it has mixed reviews (like priory of the orange tree, which some people love and others really don’t seem to have enjoyed). For me, it can be a bit of a luck of the draw! Great discussion!

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    1. There are people who didn’t love Priory? Huh, didn’t see any of that. And I get you about the duds. I HATED Ana Karenina and only made it about fifty pages in before I gave up. The Hunchback of Notre Dame was also exceedingly dull. Can we not all agree that the world does not need more Atlas Shrugged?

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  17. I am actually SUPER intimidated by long books, but ESPECIALLY if they are a specific genre (namely, fantasy or historical fiction). There are a couple I have had my eye on for a really long time but I’m so so afraid of dedicated that much time to one book, especially considering how long it takes me to read a regular book right now (I don’t get a lot of reading time, most days its like 20 pages before bed).

    I do really want to read Priory, and I’ve had my eye on Ken Follett’s Century series for quite some time. I think the first book was like 6$ on Book Outlet…

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