Some people call them doorstoppers, I call them bricks. These pictured paperbacks are quite hefty, but I’m pretty sure the hardcover editions qualify as murder weapons. They can be intimidating; they are an investment of time and effort, and you’ll also need the willingness to drag them around the country in your bag if you read during commute and don’t use an e-reader. Yes, I’m talking about those heavy, long books of over, say, 1,000 pages. As the year and the GoodReads reading challenge move along, it’s somehow those intimidating, heavy tomes that remain on the shelves.
A shame, because I do love long books!
I love the slow burns, the stories that take their time to built their settings, flesh out their characters, and that slowly create atmosphere. That’s not to say shorter books are not capable of doing so; on the contrary, they can! I have definitely appreciated my fair share of shorter books. But for me personally, I associate long books with making me lose myself in the story, the world, and its characters for a long time. It allows for attachment to the characters, for events to unfold slowly, and for me, that usually contributes to the mood of the story.
That’s not to say there are no pitfalls with long books. They have the potential to be bloated; they can drag, become repetitive. Like any book, they can have massive pacing issues. But, if done well, investing the time and effort is so worth it to me! Of course, some genres might work better for long books than others. I like longer fantasy books, especially if it comes with excellent world building and character depth. It’s why I love GRRM’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, for instance.
Then GoodReads happened, which, while a nice website, came with unfortunate side effects. First, there was the GoodReads reading challenge. Though I’m less concerned with the number these days, I did use to pick up the smaller books to complete this challenge. Second, there were all these shiny and interesting books out there that I wanted to read. So, somehow, the hefty tomes fell by the wayside, regardless of whether I had them on my shelf or not. I wanted to read them, but I didn’t get around to them due to their size and other concerns. A damn shame.
Two years ago, in the second half of 2017, I really wanted to read IT by Stephen King, my GoodReads reading challenge and my TBR amount be damned. The book’s title might as well refer to the size of the book rather than the monster. And though the book has some scenes that make me wonder what Stephen King had been smoking while writing it (if you’ve read it, you’ll know what I’m talking about), it also reminded me why I loved those atmospheric slow burns so much. I looked at the other bricks on my shelves, waiting for the moment I would finally pick them up but were somehow repeatedly passed over.
Now, I usually don’t like reading challenges; I’m a mood reader and I feel they restrict my reading too much. Yet, I did decide on annual reading challenge: from that point on, I’m going to read at least one long book of 1,000+ pages a year. Genre and author don’t matter, as long as it’s 1,000 pages or more and isn’t a collection of short stories. I named this challenge ‘The Brick’, because that’s how I personally refer to these large books. This way, it felt more like an encouragement rather than a restriction!
My brick of 2018 was The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, also started in the second half of the year. Because even the paperback version is a murder weapon, I exclusively read this one at home and it took me a few months to finish it. That said, I loved it. Awesome characters, an intricate revenge plot… and probably a ton of stuff I’ve missed on my first read.
This year, I’ll be reading another book by Stephen King: The Stand. I’ve just started, so I have months to finish it. The fact that I went for another King novel is a coincidence; the amount of books that qualify for my personal ‘The Brick’ label standing around on my shelves weren’t as high as I thought, and I’m trying to get through the backlog of my owned books by Stephen King this year. Finally, considering this book is so well loved by fans of the author, I’m quite curious to see what all the fuss is about.
I’m not sure which book I’ll read next year for The Brick. Like I said, it doesn’t look like I have other books on my shelves right now that qualify. I don’t like buying books for the sake thereof — I want to be genuinely interested in reading it. Maybe I’ll have to adjust the qualifications or skip the challenge altogether (which would be fine), but who knows what will have found its way on my TBR by next year!
How do you feel about long books? Do you love them, or do you not have the patience for them? Any long books that you love? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!