Sunday, January 18, 2009

"But it's so big and intimidating!"

Last week I picked up a used copy of Rebecca Ray's Newfoundland. I needed a large crane and a crew of four to help. Coming in at 1001 pages, it's the largest book on my shelf right now, not including a few books of complete works (Shakespeare, Poe, and the Bible). I know it's going to take me years to even consider reading it. After plugging through a 1424 page version of Tolstoy's War and Peace and the 1141 page uncut version of Stephen King's The Stand, I know what a commitment it will have to be.

I have a few questions for you:

1. What's the longest book on your shelf right now? Have you read it?

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


Sam said...

Mine is last year's new translation of "War and Peace" that totals over 1200 pages, excluding footnotes. I read a bit over 200 pages, put it aside, and never picked it up again...maybe someday.

I did just finish Denis Lehane's "The Given Day" that comes in at 702 pages and wished it had been even longer, so it's not entirely the length of the book that puts me off.

Teddy Rose said...

Oh come on John it can't as hard as trudging through "War and Peice", can it?

I think the biggest book I have right now is 'London' by Edward Rutherfurd at 829 pages. I have not read it yet.

Michele said...

Well I admit to having all of Gabaldon's Outlander books, each of which runs between 1200-1500 pages in the mass market paperback version. Not sure those count, though, because they are by all accounts what is referred to as an "easy read."

I still have War and Peace on my shelves...more as a trophy than from any desire to read it again. Once was probably enough. ;)

John Mutford said...

Sam: I was looking through the various translations that are out there and I don't remember who did the version I read. The 1424 page version I refered to above looks to be it, though I can't be sure. Anyway, it had to have been somewhere between 1200-1500 words, right?

Teddy Rose: I actually enjoyed War and Peace and somewhat The Stand. Still, it's such a time commitment when there are so many other books I could get read in that time.

Michele: It amazes me how long some "easy reads" or young adult books are now. I see kids going around with books large enough to clobber one another.

Beth F said...

I love big books! I have all the Outlander books (and read them), all the Rutherfurd British books (and read them -- will get to the Ireland ones soon). Now I'll have to check out Newfoundland.

And I've just realized I added nothing whatsoever to this conversation -- but I wore my little fingers to a bone typing, so I'm leaving the comment anyway.

raidergirl3 said...

longest unread book to be read? With No One as a Witness by Elizabeth George, 772 pages, and it will read pretty slow; I find her books dense reads, but very good.

I've read London by Rutherford and loved it; all the Outlander books - I didn't realize they were that long, and The Stand - most excellent book.

great question!

Chrisbookarama said...

I think I sent War & Peace to the used book store, so it's no longer bending my bookshelf. It's probably the longest I've ever read. That and Atlas Shrugged (it would have been shorter without the 70 pg speech).

I still have some fat ones on the shelf though: The Far Pavilions, The Outlander books, The Memoirs of Cleopatra.

Framed said...

I have two Gabaldon books on the shelf. One is 1478 pages. Yikes!! I finally got rid of "A Suitable Boy" by Vikram Seth because its 1500+ pages were too intimidating. I've read War and Peace and didn't like it. A really good big book is great because the magic lasts for a while. Otherwise, what a drudge.

Remi said...

The RSC Complete Shakespeare.

My Canadian Oxford Dictionary (every self-respecting Canuck should have one) also takes up its fair share of deskspace.

Of the top of my head, Mistry's A Fine Balance was one of the longer ones at 728. Oddly enough, I finished that one wishing it were longer, not something I usually feel after a marathon read.

Miriam said...

I have a fair number - the new translation of War and Peace; Neal Stephenson's mammoth trilogy - I have the first on my palm and am slowly picking away at it. Hard because it's quite engaging and I'm frequently tempted to ditch all other reads for it; Blackstrap Hawco (829 pages) which I'm reading right now; Ulysses by Joyce; Remembrance of Things Past; Moby Dick. Heh. I have lots. Most unread. And, because of work, thesis, kids I prefer the short ones so the opuses just gather dust . . .

Oh, and after reading the comments, I also have A Fine Balance.

Anonymous said...

Hi John,

Both Maxx and I love King's "The Stand" ... esp the uncut version! In fact, though over the years I've rear many of Stephen King's books, "The Stand" is the only one that I've read more than once!
Check out the DVD of the mini-series that originally came out back in the '90's ... it's great! We watch that at least once a year!


Anonymous said...

I guess I would have to say War and Peace is the longest book I have read. I didn't even know there was a new translation but I should check it out since I enjoyed the book. Gone with the Wind comes to mind too but I can't remember how long it is and I couldn't find it. I've read that one many times.

John Mutford said...

Beth: As far as I can tell, Newfoundland isn't about the province at all.

Raidergirl: I hadn't even heard of the Outlander books. Shows how much I know.

Framed: Because of a silly little rule I have about finishing what I started (applied to books only!), such a lengthy book better be good, or I'm in trouble.

Remi: Yeah, I have those too, but don't really count them because they don't seem intended to be read straight through in one shot.

Miriam: Yeah, Moby Dick was a hard ol' slog.

Perry: I vaguely remember the miniseries, but not if I liked it or not. I liked the disease angle of The Strand, I just wish he didn't introduce the supernatural angle. At that point, I went from really enjoying it, to just ambivalent.

Melanie: According to Amazon, it's 1048 pages. A couple other doozies currently on my shelf are Lars Saabye Christensen's The Half Brother (768 pages), and Stephen King's Duma Key at 785 pages.

Sandra said...

The Gulag Archipelago is 1700+ pages, although most people read it in three separate volumes. A great read, and nothing I ever read was too long in my mind. Sacajawea by Ann Lee Waldo is a fun 1408 pages. And Marek Halter's The Book of Abraham is a good novel at 722 pgs. It almost matched The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann which is 728 pages and an all-time favourite of mine. I read it twice. I'd have to go check my library for any others. But I've never read War and Peace so I haven't got much to brag about. I do love a doorstopper though.

Anonymous said...

War and Peace is the longest book that I have read to date. Vikram Seths' An Unsuitable Boy is a 1,475 page novel about a mother and daughter trying to find a husband for the daughter. I will be reading it sometime in the future. It will be hard to find the time it will take to read it and will put me behind in my reading challenges.

Anonymous said...

Oops, I got the name of the book wrong again. Seth's book is called A Suitable Boy.