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Topic: Does size matter?

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Subject: Does size matter?
Date Posted: 9/30/2008 10:33 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
Posts: 5,931
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Book size that is.  Are you more intimidated by a long, thick book?  Or put off by something that looks like it'll be over just when it starts to get good.  Wow, this sounds way more perverted than I meant it too.  But in all seriousness, some of my favorite books are over 1000 pages and before I read them I never thought I'd finish, let alone enjoy them.  And there's some shorter ones that I didn't think would really have any depth or detail to them that also surprised me.  I'm asking this question in Hidden Gems too, but thought I'd post it here to get some classic examples.

My favorite epic classics: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens, Moby Dick by Herman Melville

My favorite shorter classics: The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde

Date Posted: 10/1/2008 2:07 AM ET
Member Since: 4/16/2008
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Well when I read the Idiot by Dostoevsky I was a little daunted...but I finished it. It wasn't my favorite book and at times it was kinda boring. so because of that I don't always go for the long ones unless I really have a lot of time to invest. but I read The Black Tulip by Dumas and it was pretty short as far as a lot of the classics go so I wasn't really hoping for a lot but it's an outstanding book! It's my favorite of the books that I've read as an adult. I should have known it would be good though, the Count of Monte Cristo was outstanding as well :) Frankenstein is another short one that I've been pleasantly surprised by. I didn't think that the 180 pgs was enough to really get something great going...but I was never more wrong! This was a good question!
Date Posted: 10/1/2008 6:49 AM ET
Member Since: 4/17/2008
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In January, Middlemarch by George Elliot was chosen by my online book club.  This book is pretty large and I thought that I would not be able to get through it or enjoy it but I was wrong.  I will re-read it someday but first I want to dent my TBR pile.

Date Posted: 12/15/2008 8:57 PM ET
Member Since: 12/11/2008
Posts: 23
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I would like to say it doesn't matter.  I have read books as long as 1300 pages, and read many that were 800+.  But I would say size is the biggest reason I have not read Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.  All of my reading freinds tell me I would like it, but I just don't ever seem to want to start it, and it's because most copies I've seen are 900+ pages.

Date Posted: 12/16/2008 7:13 PM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2008
Posts: 123
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It really depends on how the book is written. I love a long, thick book, as long as it isn't a bore. I love a small book, as long as it tells a good story. In terms of how they look before I read them, though, long books always have had an attraction for me...

 

HML

Date Posted: 12/22/2008 4:19 PM ET
Member Since: 10/15/2008
Posts: 66
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Longer the better (hehe) Seriously, I like a book that will hold my attention and keep me busy for awhile. There is nothing worse than finishing a book to find that the story isn't over YET!! I feel like a kid and I want to throw the book and then throw a fit...

Pillars of the Earth is worth the trouble. Read it. Then read World Without End. Great books, great time in history and the research and time the author spent on the accuracy is evident.

 

Date Posted: 12/22/2008 7:03 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
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Yes, size of a book matters, but size, alone, is not what deters me as a reader.  Some of the "long, thick books" I've considered reading (but haven't) I've shied off from for other reasons.  Upon examination, some seem to me to be over-written.  Sometimes a book appears to be a long-winded, egocentric monologue by the author.   Or the book will be stuffed with minor characters, sub-plots, incidents, anecdotes, diversions, etc. that "lard up" the main body of the novel.   Examples of the kind of book that  dismays  me are The Fortunes of Richard Mahony, by H. H. Richardson; The Magic Mountain, by Thomas Mann; and Remembrance of Things Past, by Marcel Proust.

One long thick book that was very "readable" was The Awakening Land by Conrad Richter.  But before it appeared under ONE cover, it had been a trilogy comprised of The Trees, The Fields, and The Town.

I remember that when I was in college, "big, thick books" were known as "hernia specials."    Not necessarily TEXTbooks, either . . . . .

Subject: It's not the size that matters, it's whether it's any good or not. LOL!
Date Posted: 4/4/2009 6:14 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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Okay, ladies, stop thinking dirty thoughts. LOL!

I remember when I was around 9 or 10 years old and I thought The Secret Garden was the biggest book ever. I read it and zipped through it, and size was no longer an issue.

Years later, I can't say I loved Anna Karenina. I kept looking back at how far I'd read and thinking "Are we there yet?"  I couldn't finish it.  Boring.

Atlas Shrugged looks interesting, but dang it's, what? A thousand pages? Intimidating.

Skip The Historian too. Too big and the story sounds boring. I am just not into vampires.

I have Pillars of the Earth on it's way. Yeah, I am a little nervous. I hope I like it.

 

Date Posted: 4/4/2009 7:56 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
Posts: 5,696
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Oh, I love, love, love Proust!

I love long books and always have. 

Date Posted: 5/27/2009 11:20 PM ET
Member Since: 5/15/2009
Posts: 15
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My favorite book the fountain head by ayn rand is a decent size and I have reread it 3 times

One of my other favorite books The alchemist is very short and I have re read it many times.

To me it has nothing to do with the size of the book but the story it tells.

 



Last Edited on: 5/27/09 11:20 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/30/2009 5:13 PM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2005
Posts: 426
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I'm currently into long books.  I'm most of the way through Leon Uris's "The Haj" at home and just over halfway through James A. Michener's "The Covenant" at work.  I'm really enjoying them.  Both are like entering the world you're reading about and I really love that. 

Date Posted: 6/7/2009 2:12 PM ET
Member Since: 4/14/2009
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I think it doesn't matter in that in doesn't make any novel bad or good from the get go, but it does matter in that reading a long book always makes me feel like I've really done something :). In a world where even reading short books is no longer the norm there is just something about being able to finish a long novel :3
Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 6/8/2009 8:32 AM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 3,067
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I read a lot of cozy mysteries which are short. But most of my favorite books are BIG books. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova and Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley are my two favorites. I have Pillars and WWE on my TBR. Then again I love Tale of Two Cities and that is a shorter book. I agree with Bonnie that some big books are very dry and long winded because the book should have only been 200 pages but the author kept adding details. And I have read many shorter books that really could have had MORE details. .  So to answer the original question, No I do not get intimidated by big books or turn down small books because i feel they wont be good.



Last Edited on: 6/8/09 8:33 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: Long fiction VS. long non-fiction
Date Posted: 6/8/2009 9:58 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
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Thinking about book length, I have decided that it makes a difference if the book is a novel, or a non-fiction work, such as a history, for example.   I undertook to read Simone de Beauvoir"s The Second Sex many years ago, despite its length, because I wanted to know what this female intellectual had to say on the subject.   There was no problem of my interest flagging during the reading of this BIG book, for what I was learning was (to me) interesting stuff, written in a clear and articulate prose style.  Afterwards, I remember feeling as though I had just completed the survey course at university in the (then rather new) "Women's Studies

Let me remind you all of how, when Margaret  Mitchell's  Gone With the Wind was published (in the late 1930s) newspaper reporters interviewed ordinary people (cab drivers, waitresses, stock clerks, etc.) about how long it took them to read that Civil War epic.  In Ohio, my  neighbor, an older woman from North Carolina , told me how, as a young working woman,  she had commenced reading it on a Sunday.  She said when Monday morning rolled round, she hadn't finished it, and she couldn't bear to put the book down, so she called in "sick" and stayed home from work to read!

Subject: Long fiction VS. long non-fiction
Date Posted: 6/8/2009 10:01 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
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Thinking about book length, I have decided that it makes a difference if the book is a novel, or a non-fiction work, such as a history, for example.   I undertook to read Simone de Beauvoir"s The Second Sex many years ago, despite its length, because I wanted to know what this female intellectual had to say on the subject.   There was no problem of my interest flagging during the reading of this BIG book, for what I was learning was (to me) interesting stuff, written in a clear and articulate prose style.  Afterwards, I remember feeling as though I had just completed the survey course at university in the (then rather new) "Women's Studies

Let me remind you all of how, when Margaret  Mitchell's  Gone With the Wind was published (in the late 1930s) newspaper reporters interviewed ordinary people (cab drivers, waitresses, stock clerks, etc.) about how long it took them to read that Civil War epic.  In Ohio, my  neighbor, an older woman from North Carolina , told me how, as a young working woman,  she had commenced reading it on a Sunday.  She said when Monday morning rolled round, she hadn't finished it, and she couldn't bear to put the book down, so she called in "sick" and stayed home from work to read!

Date Posted: 7/2/2009 9:52 PM ET
Member Since: 2/23/2009
Posts: 406
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I loved, loved, loved Les Miserables, but I also loved loved loved Of Mice and Men. So, no, I think size doesn't matter one bit.
Date Posted: 7/3/2009 12:50 AM ET
Member Since: 4/4/2009
Posts: 9,510
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It is pretty hard to be profound in not so many pages. The great ones can do it, though. Heart of Darkness comes to mind. Fitzgerald did it once with The Great Gatsby, and Melville once in a story under 100 pages, Billy Budd. So put me down in Corissa's camp.

Date Posted: 7/7/2009 3:11 AM ET
Member Since: 1/19/2008
Posts: 26
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My favorite dictionary-sized book is "Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans" by Plutarch, often referred to as "Plutarch's Lives". This is one of my "if you were stranded on a deserted island, what books would you want" books. It's surprisingly readable. as he takes various famous Greeks and Romans and makes them human. One of my favorite stories from the book is where Plutarch is describing a ruler of Athens. His little boy has been bugging his mother for a particular toy, so his mother tells his father to get it for him. The man tells his son "You are the most powerful person in Greece, for I rule Athens, and Athens rules Greece, but you rule your mother, and your mother rules me." The more things change... There was also a totally bizarre story where two armies were fighting, and what could only be described as a flying saucer landed in the middle of the battlefield, so the two armies just left and came back the next day, like it was no big deal. I was like "WHAT??? when I read that.

Last Edited on: 7/7/09 3:28 AM ET - Total times edited: 2