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.
Update: I did a bit of updating. I have noted that I used the wrong editions when I prepared the original post. Upon validation, here is the updated list. Changes from the previous list are Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, and Barbara Taylor Bradford’s A Woman of Substance.
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
Number of Pages: 925
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.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Number of Pages: 961
At over 900-pages, The Goldfinch was my first work by Donna Tartt. I barely had any iota on what the book was about or who Donna Tartt was. What compelled me to buy it was the seal of the Pulitzer Prize on the book’s cover; it won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize. The story of Theodore “Theo” Decker, the titular The Goldfinch is an artwork by Carel Fabritius. It was a challenging read, with a huge cast of characters and minor storylines. It was also my first Tartt novel but I one thing stood out, the beauty of her prose.
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
Number of Pages: 1,006
And now we’re off with the 1,000-pagers, starting with Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth. It is deceptively complex, on the surface 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 relatively easy to read. There were some dark and difficult spots but overall, it was a breeze of a read, compared to Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84.
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.
Sarum by Edward Rutherford
Number of Pages: 1,035
Here is another historical novel about England. Edward Rutherford’s Sarum: The Novel of England was a book I never expected to purchase or read. Rutherford’s literary debut published in 1987, it relates the story of England from prehistoric times to 1985. The novel was told through the tales and experiences of families, including the Forests, Wilsons, Porters, and Masons, in and around Salisbury, Rutherford’s hometown. It was a lush narrative about England’s history.
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Number of Pages: 1,045
The Brothers Karamazov was my first novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Set in 19th century Russia, it is a packed literary masterpiece that is synonymous to the word classic. It is also one of the reasons why I fell in love with Russian literature. Told through the story of a 55-year old patriarch and his three sons, it is a multifaceted narrative that deals with religion, God, free will, and mostly morality in a rapidly developing Russia.
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Number of Pages: 1,057
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.
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
Number of Pages: 1,072
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.
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Number of Pages: 1,084
Kicking off the top three is Ayn Rand’s 1,084-pager, Atlas Shrugged. Honestly, I nearly forgot about this book. 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.
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
Number of Pages: 1,088
At number two 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.
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Number of Pages: 1,388
With a whopping 1,388 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.