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Friday, 27 July 2012

Discussion Post: Does size matter?

We're not talking body parts here... we're talking page numbers.

Last year the length of a book really put me off reading it. Not because I didn't think I'd enjoy it. But simply because I felt like I needed to read quickly in order to have a review to post. 

This year I've done really well just reading whatever I've been in the mood for since I scaled back my acceptance of books for review. So far this year, I've read 9 books that have been 500+ pages in length. And you know, I've really enjoyed them. I love epic fantasies and most of those books fit in that category. (Trudi Canavan featured very highly in my January/ February reading).

Towards the end of term I reverted to reading 250 - 300 page books because I was exhausted and reading was at a minimum. Well it's the summer now and I am all about the chunky book. If it's 400/500/600 pages. I'm planning on reading it this summer. See the photo for my chunky book picks.

I remember the time before I was a blogger. I wanted books to be as long as possible. I never wanted the story to end. Now I feel differently, I want the story to be the length it needs to be to make it a great story. I don't want it fluffed to make it longer. I don't want it to be stripped bare to make it shorter. I wanted it to be what it needs to be.

As a Librarian for children, I often think books are too long for the 8-12 age group. The Harry Potter era is over. Fantasy is out. Comedy is in. But most importantly, children rarely compare page lengths anymore as a competitive thing. Now they are after snappy reads that have them in fits of giggles. (At least in general that's what they're looking for in my library). 

So how about you. Does size influence your reading choice? 

What's the longest book you've ever read? 

Mine is Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke -  a whopping 782 pages. Read back in 2004 when I was finishing up my university days. I must have felt I had all the time in the world.


Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Big books turn me off.
Sad I know.
But I get intimated.
Especially since I don't always have lots of time to invest.
Ironically some of my favs turn out to be big ones I waited ages to read.
Great question.

Catherine@thebookparade said...

Yes, I agree I want books to be the length they need to be, to be the best possible story. Not 'fluffed up' for the sake of it, but not stripped bare either. It's quite funny, because I have a friend is not put off by a book being long but by a book being short. She wants books to be as long as possible. But then again, she's not a blogger...

The longest book I've ever read is probably still Harry Potter and The Order Of The Phoenix (don't know how many pages long it is but it's renowned for being long!)

Michele Helene said...

I read that book when I was pregnant, and I can now say DID have all the time in the world!

Pepca said...

Chunky books scare me sometimes, especially when I think it is going to be a 'difficult' read. In some cases this is true and a bulky book takes me weeks to read it, but sometimes and I read it in a matter of days. It all depends on how much a book pulls me in.

My longest read was probably The Lord of the Rings - I think around 1500 pages (depends on the edition).

I Want To Read That said...

It depends on the book I think. Sometimes I will pick up a chunky book and just steam through it - possibly quicker than one that's smaller if I'm loving it! So I'm not put off if it's a book I'm sure I'm going to like - maybe because I've read that author before or because I'm just really excited about it!

I do think there is a bit of pressure to read quickly though - which is a shame because reading is reading - it should be about how much you are enjoying the process of it not just how many books you have read, or how quickly you have them. If that makes sense! Although, if you blog there are those pesky things called reviews so...:P

I'm interested in whether e-readers make how 'big' the book is less daunting? I don't pay attention to how many pages the book has when I buy it for my e-reader so it becomes a non-issue when I choose books to read from it.

Beth Kemp said...

I loved Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell - and it probably is the longest novel I've read.

As for the effect of the e-reader, I find I *am* comparing lengths on the Kindle in deciding what to read next (more so than with print books, probably), although not in choosing what to buy.

Sarah said...

It's funny because before I started blogging I used to love reading massive books. The bigger the better when it was a series that I loved - Jean M Auel's Earth's Children series is a good example of that. I read the first 5 books over and over again & most of them are at least 700 pages (I think the biggest one was over 1000 pages!). I would devour those books even though I'd read them before!

Since I've started blogging I will still read bigger books but much less often. When I'm looking at the shelves trying to pick something to read I tend to skip straight past the big books thinking I could read 2/3 smaller books in the time it would take to get through that 1 book. It's sad really because some of these are books I know I will love but I feel guilty about the number of books I have waiting to be read and put myself under pressure to read as many of them as possible! I really need to work on putting myself under less stress and have been accepting less review copies which has really helped.

I think Sammee had an interesting point about e-readers. I have to admit when I'm looking at the books on my kindle I do tend to look at the page counts on goodreads before I decide which one to start though so it hasn't really helped me much LOL

Becky said...

Juja, thanks for sharing. It's easy to be intimidated!

Catherine, I think your friend has a point. I used to be like that. Now when I read a short book that works, I'm awed by the writing and its precision.

Pepca, I totally forgot that I've read LOTR. So that must be my longest book too.

Sammee, great point about e-readers. I don't look at the page count on Kobo. I don't know where that is but I do monitor how much % I have read. I think I read quicker on my e-reader because I'm less conscious of how much of a chapter I have less. But it could just be that not many words fit on the screen at any one time.

Beth, I definitely don't let page length effect what I buy on my e-reader or what to read next. I do in paper form but I'm trying more to just choose what I'm in the mood for.

Sarah, interesting that you still feel that pressure. I have let it go since January and if I look on my side bar I only reviewed two books in March. I didn't let it bother me though. I think a break rejuvenated my blogging. Definitely going back to reading my chunky fantasy books helped.

SolariC said...

I love long, fat books (the longest I've read is maybe...Les Miserables? Though I've also read some fantasy epics which were extremely long). I also like to write long, fat books. However, since I am often too tired to read a long book when I'm busy at work, I sympathize with readers who wish writers would reign themselves in. So lately in my writing efforts I've been trying to let the story show me how to keep it more streamlined, so that even tired, overworked people can read it.

So Many Books, So Little Time said...

I think the longest book I've read is Gone with the Wind which was over a 1000 pages.

I was supposed to read Clarissa by Samuel Richardson for my degree, but at a whopping 1500 pages and painfully boring, I only managed 150.

Clover said...

Yes! Chunky books really intimate me. I think 300 pages is about my limit as my levels of concentration get smaller as I get older.

For me, I read very differently before I had children. Before I liked a long book to keep me going and be immersed in. Now I need books shorter and snappier.

Longest book I've read is probably A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth, which I loved.