Long Books Worth Finishing
There are a lot of good reasons to NOT finish a long book. The most obvious reason is that long books are too long, but that might not be the best reason. Some long books have too much filler, unnecessary subplots, and may feel like they were written that way just for the sake of being long. Some long books are so wordy that the story could have been told in half the length without losing anything important. Other long books are so heavy in their hardcover form that they may be physically difficult to carry.
The problem with not finishing a long book is that I sometimes feel like I have to get defensive, as if there’s something wrong with me for not finishing it. I’m getting older and I don’t have time to read 500+ page books unless they’re truly awesome (when I say I don’t have time, I mean “spare time” not “time…” as in… you know…. mortality. I hope I have plenty of “time”).
The Guardian has a list of ten long books that are supposedly worth reading (The Ten Best Long Reads), but I’m unqualified to comment on the list because I haven’t read any of the books. The list was kind of British, and I’m kind of American. I have nothing against British books. I read British books, but I wasn’t familiar with some of these massive novels. Plus, most of the novels were fairly recent. When it comes to 500+ page books that are a chore to read, I think of the classics, not something that was published in my lifetime.
There are plenty of large books (or long reads) that I haven’t finished reading. I tried to read Colleen McCullough’s Rome series, but I didn’t finish any of them. I didn’t finish Sarum by Richard Rutherford (or Russka). I didn’t finish Atlas Shrugged. I didn’t finish War and Peace. I’ve never finished a James Michener novel (not even The Novel, and if I were ever going to finish a James Michener novel, it would have been The Novel). I didn’t read Roots or Gone with the Wind (but I watched them both on TV when I was a kid). I finished a couple Tom Clancy novels, but then I didn’t finish several others. Now I’ve gotten to the point that I don’t even try to read books that are 500+ pages anymore. That doesn’t mean I never will, but it won’t happen much.
A great long book doesn’t feel long. A great long book is one that the reader can enjoy without feeling like he/she is enduring it. It’s a book that the reader doesn’t want to end. It’s a rare feeling, to wish a 500+ page book would last longer (that’s another possible topic!). But it’s happened a few times:
WARNING! These are not the BEST LONG BOOKS EVER! These are just a few really (or maybe not really that) long books that I enjoyed.
The Stand by Stephen King: I read this decades ago and thought it was great. I haven’t reread it since, but I’m tempted to.
Watership Down by Richard Adams: Rabbits? Flippin’ rabbits? There’s no way this book should have been good, but it was!
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas: I think this is almost the perfect action/adventure story. Hollywood made a great (but hard to find) movie in the 1970s, but has messed it up ever since.
The Bible by God : I’ve never read it from beginning to end, but I’ve read a lot of it, and I… uh… I… agh…I’m going to… uh… Even if I haven’t read the whole thing, I’m pretty sure it’s worth finishing, because anything written by God has got to be worth finishing.
I know that there are a lot of readers and book lovers out there who have read and finished and enjoyed way more long books than I have, so… What long books did you actually enjoy reading?