Top Ten Tuesday [The Longer Books]

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl with a new topic each week.

I apologise for the lack of posts, I’d been doing really well but lately I’ve been really busy and blogging has kind of taken a backseat. Anyway, I adore long books. Sometimes I will pick one book over another because it’s long. There’s definitely this weird (and incorrect) thought in my head that a long book is somehow worth more – which is obviously not true. However I can never read a long book as an ebook, so that’s always a downside. As a result, all the long books I’ve read I either own or have borrowed.  Here are some I’ve read.

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1) The Luminaries (Eleanor Catton) 
At 848 pages, this isn’t as long as some but it’s hardly short. Basically it’s about prospecting in New Zealand in 1866 and, like any epic novel, features a wide cast of characters. It’s structured interestingly with parts of the book corresponding to phases of the lunar cycle (is that the right word, phases?), but like many other readers, I found this kind of unnecessary. I read it with some degree of interest because I knew virtually nothing about the West Coast Gold Rush, but I don’t readily recommend it to other people. (Sidenote: Catton’s debut novel The Rehearsal which deals with a high school scandal couldn’t be more different from The LuminariesI hesitate to recommend it, but if you’re interested you should look it up, and I really should find the time to reread it someday, because it’s just weird.)

2) Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy)
At 964 pages. I’ve already talked about this so I won’t go into it again, but if you’re interested in a long Russian novel about love and disillusionment, you can’t do better really.

3) A Suitable Boy (Vikram Seth)
It’s 1474 pages and worth it. A friend and I have been eagerly discussing the much-awaited sequel, A Suitable Girl. Although the book is (for some reason lost to me) advertised as a love-and-marriage story, it’s about a lot of other things. It’s about so many things that I’m not even sure I could put them all together – marriage and love for sure, but also politics, religion, government, small families, big families, different families, card games, ceremonies, children…so much, really. If you’re looking for a long, detailed look at an independent India in the 1950s, this book can give you a pretty good picture.

4) Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (Susanna Clarke)
At 1006 pages, this is a historical fantasy (ish?) novel set in England, dealing with two rival magicians. I really wanted to like this book (I say this a lot), and I very much liked the way it was written, with the occasional half-page long citation that made me feel I was reading something much more academic. But sadly, I didn’t really find much to like about the plot or the characters, and for a novel that’s relatively recent, I was a bit disappointed by the lack of women characters (the few who were included were of little importance and had hardly any agency).

5) The Goldfinch (Donna Tartt)
I think I’ve lost my copy of The Secret History and I must buy one immediately to remedy that loss. Last but not least, at 771 pages, The Goldfinch is the book I recommend much less than (but love probably just as much as) The Secret History. An adolescent boy who loses his mother carries one constant that stays with him (and the reader), throughout the novel: a painting. Some call Tartt pretentious (I’ve no doubt these claims are legitimate), but I genuinely love the way she writes. Some have compared her to Dickens which seems ridiculous to me (because I can’t stand him). Sometimes it’s that simple. I don’t think I would have enjoyed this as much had anyone else written it.

I’m very surprised I’ve managed to actually finish this list without falling asleep. I want to add that some of the longer books I plan to read (soonish) are War and PeaceBitter FruitThe Pillars of the EarthThe Neapolitan Trilogy and A Fine Balance (this is based entirely on a first-seen-first-served basis, depending on which books are in my line of sight, staring me down from my bookshelf as I type).

I apologise if this post is a little rushed and sloppy, I’m bone-tired. See you soon (the good thing about the word ‘soon’ is its vagueness).

4 Replies to “Top Ten Tuesday [The Longer Books]”

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