Do you read long books? I confess that I tend to shy away from them. I think it just seems like too big a commitment for me. I prefer variety or else I get bored, and tackling a 400+ page novel leaves me exhausting just thinking about it.
It’s ironic but I think I had more patience when I was younger (teenage years). I had more time and I attempted just about any classic in the quest to say I’d read them all. My tastes and goals have changed over the years. But some of the longer fictional books I have accomplished in the past include “Little Women (age 12); “Ivanhoe” (which I converted into a 75 page play for my sister and myself); and more recently, “Titus Groan,” by Mervyn Peake. There are a few others on my TBR that I don’t know when I’ll get to. “The Maid of Sker,” by Richard D. Blackmore, “The Cloister and the Hearth,” by Charles Reade, and “Glastonbury,” by Donna Fletcher Crowe.
I think some of the reasons why I often shy away from the longer tomes these days is because I don’t feel I have the emotional or mental energy to undertake it. A couple of years ago I ordered a book on interlibrary loan, and then promptly sent it back upon seeing how thick the book and how tiny the print was. I was going through a rough time and needed something lighter and faster paced. Recently I also passed on an Edward Rutherfurd novel, when 15 years ago I probably would have checked it out. Another plausible theory could be due to the fact that I have more eyestrain than I used to and it taints my desire for long, involved reads.
When searching out new additions for my TBR on goodreads, I try to thoughtfully evaluate whether I will realistically want to read a particular title or if I would just feel burdened and dread opening the cover. That sounds sort of funny now that I have that typed down. Why would I want to read anything I’d dread? Am I such a glutton for self-torture? I want to read good, meaty, beneficial books. But the word and page count of a book does not necessarily make it beneficial. A proverb can be more wisely read than a full assortment of “Grey” romance.
Yet some of the world’s best epics have been told through long-drawn out prose. (Those French and Russian novels for instance…) But usually their stories are too familiar told through other mediums for me to care to devote so much time to reading. Maybe one day my interests will change again and I’ll be a reader of “Moby Dick” but I’m not so much a fan of whale blubber right now.
What does constitute me attempting a big fiction book? Just like any other book, it is usually a creative plotline and the adventure that draws me in. If it has my attention in these areas, I can perhaps forget I’ve spent the last 3 months in this world. It’s what kept me going through “Titus Groan”, and is what has me interested in someday trying “Shogun,” by James Clavell.
I came to ponder all of this after reading this article entitled “Never Ending Stories.”
What about you? If you’re a reader of long tales, what attracts you to them?