Why do I Avoid Big Books?

Posted October 5, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 0 Comments

I’ve talked a little about my fear of large novels previously but I think this time to revisit this topic once again. More and more large books are turning up in my to-read lists and while I’m excited to read them, a book so large often puts me off. I do read large books but it seems to be on a rare occasions. Yet there seems to be more large novels still waiting that haven’t been read. Is there any way to motivate myself or force myself to spend the time reading a book over 800 pages?

It is not the classics that have calling my name; sure I want to get to War and Peace, The Brothers Karamazov and even In Search of Lost Time but there are some very recent releases that look interesting too. Including A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava, The Kills by Richard House, The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton and The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I’m sure there are books that aren’t classics or recent releases that are deserve to be read as well that are over 800 pages, they just feel like a huge investment.

This month I’m reading The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett which sits at 973 pages and while I’m enjoying it so far, that is a big investment of time. I have read some great big books, including Anna Karenina, Les Misérables and Infinite Jest but if I want to compare the time investment of those books compared to reading two books, it seems to take so much more time. Now it is your turn, let me know what your thoughts are about big books; have you read some good ones? Are there any on your shelves that are scaring you? And do you have any tips to motivate yourself.

0 responses to “Why do I Avoid Big Books?

  1. missbonnie13

    I have a definite fear of large books and I think it has everything to do with the time investment. In the back of my mind I’m always thinking “I could read like 3 or 4 books in the time it’s going to take me to read this one.” Plus I get a bit ADD with large books, get distracted and lose interest sometimes even if they are good. Again, likely because I’m like, “I’m no closer to finishing… oooh look at that tiny book!” hahaha I have The Luminaries up soon and I think I’ll do much better reading on kindle in comparison to physically seeing how many pages I have to read. Of course I’ll also have to stop staring at my % progress waiting for the number to change. 🙂

  2. Violet

    One thing I do when reading fat books is to set myself a daily page target and mark off that section with a bookmark. That way I can see my progress, which seems to help me keep motivated. Large books are often bloated books that need a good edit, which detracts from reading pleasure. I can put up with that in classic novels, because many of them were published in serial form and the padding is deliberate, but I don’t want to read contemporary fiction that just waffles on. It’s pretty hard to sustain the quality of writing over the course of a large novel and not many people can do it successfully. Your shying away from reading large books may have something to do with the quality of the prose in fat books you’ve read previously.

  3. Laura @ Shabby Rabbit

    It has occured to me that my biggest roadblock to reading a big book has been my voluntary involvement in Goodreads Reading Challenge!! When I set a big (well, big for me..) goal for the number of books I want to read in a year I’m hyper concious of page lengths and weather I’m ahead or (as with this year) behind on said goal. This. is. silly! I know this but I do it anyway. I’m sensitive about number for blog and facebook followers too though.

    • Goodreads reading challenge is a huge problem. I remember last year when I hit my 150 books, I read a lot of bigger books and non-fiction. I think it was the most fun I had in reading that year. Almost like rewarding yourself for all that hard works

  4. tanya boughtflower

    I used to be a dedicated large book reader. If it was thick, I would read it. Since having kids this no longer seems to be a viable option. Previously I had loads of time, not so much any more. But this does appear to be the season of big books. I just started THE LUMINARIES and I am questioning whether or not I will make it to the end. And then onto GOLDFINCH. What a fall!

  5. gypsyscarlett

    Honestly, I’m not sure what there is to fear. When one reads a book (whatever the size) they can continue reading it or not.

    Sometimes while reading a very long book, even if it is very good, I’ll get a desire to read something else. So I’ll have them both nearby, and open the one that I feel like reading at that moment. Or put the long one aside, bookmark safely in place, until I’m in the mood to finish it.

    Just try what interests you. 🙂

  6. I’m kind of middle of the road when it comes to big books – I’ll definitely read them if I’m really interested, but if faced with two books I’m equally curious about, I’ll probably choose the shorter one. There seem to be a huge number of chunksters getting lots of praise this year and I’m trying to squeeze in what I can. I can tell you that The Goldfinch is such a great read that I barely noticed its size. I finished it in less than a week and absolutely adored it. On the other hand, I’m getting through the beginning of The Luminaries right now, and it’s size is starting to feel really daunting.

  7. Holly Coulson

    It’s definitely double edged sword. Half of me wants to read them so desperately because they’re so big, then the other half wants to avoid the like the plague. It really depends how much I want to read the book. Even the length of Crime and Punishment daunted me, but I got through that because of the sheer want to find out what happens. If the plot interests me, and it’s well written, I’ll definitely keep on going and not care about the length. More the merrier, I suppose.

  8. Karen

    It has to be really really good to keep my attention for 600 pages or more. The Pillars of the Earth felt like a quick read whereas I know Moby Dick would take for ever because I’m not interested in whales that much

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