Since Top 5 Tuesday is on a hiatus this month, I’ve decided to create some random lists myself. For this week’s list, I have rounded up (some) of my longest reads. As some of you might have already noticed, and I have mentioned this time and again, I do prefer longer narratives, plots that take time to develop. Over the years, I have read pretty lengthy books, not just 300 to 400 pages, but books with over 500 pages. I did enjoy some but there were some that were exasperating, the exact consequence of reading lengthy books. Nonetheless, let me get on with my list.
P.S. for uniformity, I used Goodreads as reference for the number of pages. There may be some disparities with the number of pages I’ve read. An example is Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind. As per Goodreads, it is over a thousand pages but the version I’ve read is a little over a thousand pages. These are trifles but I wanted to have one source, one basis. Anyway, let’s get to the list.
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
Number of Pages: 924
Inspired by George Orwell’s dystopian tale, 1984, Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 is no lightweight, both physically and story-wise. It was memorable as it was my first Murakami novel (not recommended, haha), and my first venture into magical realism. As such, I had many WTF moments. I struggled with the book but despite the struggle, Murakami earned my respect. He wrote such a highly imaginable narrative that is simply out-of-this-world.
A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford
Number of Pages: 928
Another 900-pager, A Woman of Substance is the first book in Barbara Taylor Bradford’s seven book Emma Harte Saga. To say I loved it is an understatement. I’ve read this about a decade ago and still it remains one of my favorites, perhaps all-time. Emma Harte was such a strong and memorable character and her trials and tribulations were very riveting. I so loved it that I’ve read three more books from the saga. As it goes, the quality dwindled with every new book so I stopped at four.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Number of Pages: 964
Who hasn’t heard of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina? I was actually enthralled the moment I came across a copy of the book. I never thought that there was such one book. This was the time when I just started venturing into classics. There was such an appeal to the book that I couldn’t help but dip my hand into it. It ended up being my first Russian novel (it’s a toss with Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago). It wasn’t an easy read. Sure, there were a lot of glamour but there was a lot of philosophical and moral intersections as well.
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
Number of Pages: 976
The last 900-pager in the list, Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth is deceptively complex. Relating the story of the construction of a church in medieval England, it was a premise that immediately captured my attention. I simply have a soft spot for historical fiction. Despite its length, the story was quite relatively easy to read. There were some dark and difficult spots but overall, it was a breeze of a read, compared to 1Q84 or Anna Karenina.
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Number of Pages: 1,006
And now starts the first of six 1,000-pagers. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell was Susanna Clarke’s debut novel and what a debut it was. It relates the story of two wizards, the titular Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. But a Harry Potter copycat this book isn’t. It had more actions and less magic which kept me at my feet. The interjection of historical elements made me appreciate the novel. But it just dragged, a little too long.
Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann
Number of Pages: 1,022
At 1,022 pages, Lucy Ellmann’s 2019 Man Booker Prize shortlisted work, Ducks, Newburyport is currently my fifth longest read. It is the story of a middle-aged mother living in the American countryside. Written in the streams of consciousness style, the book had very long sentences which were separated only by commas or semi-colons. It was a taxing read but insightful at the same time. It touched on history and the current political climate, two staples in American fiction.
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
Number of Pages: 1,023
Beating Ducks, Newburyport by a single page, Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote is one of the most recognized titles in literature. It was also one of the first books I’ve read when I started immersing in the classics. As anyone can tell, I struggled mightily with the book. Sure, Don Quixote was a very eccentric character but I didn’t find his antics funny. Or maybe it shouldn’t be seen that way. This was, after all, Miguel de Cervantes’ satire of his time’s climate.
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Number of Pages: 1,037
This American classic is one of the most popular titles out there. Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind relates the story of Scarlet O’Hara during the Civil War in Georgia. O’Hara is perhaps one of the most dreaded (or misunderstood) characters out there. Her story, however, is the story of rising above one’s trials and making a name for one’s self in a time when women were viewed as mere homemakers. The book was deceptively easy to read. The name, I guess, just daunts any reader but it was an easier read than was published.
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
Number of Pages: 1,088
Kicking off the top three is David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. Unlike most of the books in this list, this is literally as complex as it is lengthy. This was a very challenging read that had several story lines. Whilst it was neither a pleasant nor easy read, it inspired a great sense of accomplishment. Wallace’s insights were complimented by his unconventional storytelling. Nonlinear storytelling is always a delight. Or not, especially if it is as lengthy as Infinite Jest. In the book’s case, its length validates its complexity.
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Number of Pages: 1,168
I nearly forgot this book! At number two is Ayn Rand’s 1,168-pager, Atlas Shrugged. It is a very complex narrative about the future of industrial America. It is also very highly philosophical as Rand fused the narrative with her philosophy of objectivism. Some of her views are rather radical, which is maybe one of the reasons why some of her works are frowned upon. It was still interesting though as some are applicable in the context of today.
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Number of Pages: 1,392
With a whopping 1,392 pages, Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace takes the top spot of my longest reads. This is Tolstoy’s second appearance in the list. As the story implies, it is a tale of war and peace in Napoleonic Russia. Unlike Anna Karenina, however, I had an easier one with this. Or perhaps I have already adapted to his writing? Maybe. War and Peace is one of my all-time reads. For its length, it was an easy read, not pleasant, but easy.
This list was originally included ten books. But when I was finalizing the list, I came across Atlas Shrugged and I was reminded how lengthy a read it was. I am too lazy to remove 1Q84 from the list. Besides, I love both the book and the author anyway. My post, my rules. Haha. This list is by no means final as I have a score of 900 and 1,000 pagers in line for reading such as Peter Nadas’ Parallel Stories and Charles Dickens’ Bleak House.
How about you fellow reader? What were your longest reads? I do hope you can share it in the comment box. For now, keep safe! And as always, happy reading! Enjoy the rest of the week.