top 10 tuesday: The Longest Books I’ve Ever Read

Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and The Bookish which is now hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week’s topic:

October 9: Longest Books I’ve Ever Read

Quick note about this list: I didn’t want it to be dominated by several books from the same series (namely Harry Potter and A Song of Ice and Fire), so I’ve only included the longest book from each of those series to make room for some other titles.

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Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham
712 pages

Somerset Maugham is one of my favorite authors and this is my favorite book of his that I’ve read so far. Also, this is my mom’s favorite book.  I’m a little surprised to see it on this list though as it really did feel shorter than 700 pages while reading.

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Moby Dick by Herman Melville
720 pages

I hate literally everything about this book.  Whale anatomy is even more boring than it sounds, which I didn’t think was possible.

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A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
720 pages

You guys are probably tired of hearing me talk about this book.  But, I will say: if you want to read it, don’t let the length be the thing that dissuades you (instead of, you know, the relentlessly triggering content).  I read it in 4 days flat and it was one of the most engrossing reading experiences of my life.  I felt like I lived inside this book that week.

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Metamorphoses by Ovid
723 pages

I read all of these stories throughout the four years that I took Latin in high school (which was incidentally my favorite class ever), but I’ve been wanting to reread it cover to cover at some point.

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The Divine Comedy by Dante
798 pages

As you can imagine, majoring in Italian studies I had to read this book both in English and Italian more times than I can count.  I took a class at the Università di Bologna on La Divina Commedia with one of the contemporary leading Dante scholars, who was nice and gave me a good grade even though I did pretty terribly on my exam.  Have I ever talked about how much I despise Italian oral exams?  They are the worst.

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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
870 pages

This will always be my favorite Harry Potter book.

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The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
973 pages

I love this book but I actually haven’t read the following two books in Follett’s Kingsbridge series, or anything else by Follett for that matter.  I do intend to finish up this series at some point, and I’ll probably also reread this one eventually.

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A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin
1178 pages

Intriguing!  I actually thought A Dance With Dragons was the longest in this series until I sorted my Goodreads shelves by page count, and then I didn’t trust that to be accurate so I googled it to double check, and lo and behold, A Storm of Swords is indeed the longest.  It’s funny because A Storm of Swords is my favorite in the series and A Dance With Dragons is my least favorite, so I guess the former just felt short and the latter felt longer.

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War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
1440 pages

This was such a slog.  Not Moby Dick levels of painful, but I was so relieved to be done with it.  I was not prepared for how much war was going to be in this book.  I should have been prepared.  War is half the title.  I was not prepared.

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Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
1468 pages

And on the other hand, my favorite book that I’ve ever read is incidentally the longest book that I’ve ever read.  This is such a moving and immersive story, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

What’s the longest book you’ve ever read?  Comment and let me know!

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37 thoughts on “top 10 tuesday: The Longest Books I’ve Ever Read

  1. Moby Dick sounds like one of the worst books on earth but I do love the cover of that edition you posted. I’m sorry you had to suffer through it though. And I’m so surprised (I don’t know why!) that Les Miserables is your favorite book! I’ve never read it (I know the basic outline of the story from the musical) but I didn’t realize what potential it had. I’m intrigued!

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    • I didn’t even read that edition, I was just scrolling through looking for nice cover thinking ‘I’m going to get something good out of this stupid whale book.’

      I’m obsessed with Les Mis! I’ve seen the musical an ungodly amount of times, but I actually read the book first and I fell so hard for it. If you’re looking to get lost in a sweeping epic of a story, this is the perfect book for it. The characters are so vivid and the social commentary about post-revolution France is brilliant and frighteningly recognizable. I know you’re not doing fiction right now but I hope you give it a try one day!

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      • I wish it were more widely read these days! Length aside it’s not a difficult read at all, and it’s just so brilliant. And there’s so much history and sociopolitical context packed in there, I think you’d really enjoy those elements!

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      • To be fair my fear of long books is increasing with the more time I spend in this community because I feel like I’m finding out about 10 new books every day and my TBR keeps growing exponentially. Which is dumb, I should just read what I want to read. And yet…..

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      • YES, that is exactly why I put them off. No matter how much I want to read a certain lengthy book (I’m lookin’ at you, John Boyne and Jane Eyre), my brain always says: ‘but if I pick up short/average length books, I could read 2 or 3 of them in the same time it would take me to read that… which is so stupid. Especially since it’s not even true sometimes; I read Evelyn Hardcastle (which is 500+ pages) in 3 days recently, so why does my brain keep doing this?

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      • I can’t decide if the pressure is more internal or external, like, do I put off long books because the thought of being stuck with a shitty 1000 page book (especially because I don’t really DNF) is intimidating, or is it because I want my yearly tally to be higher/I want to seem more well-read 🤔 I also wish I could force my brain to get some perspective here, like, yes, if I read a long book I will read fewer books, but ‘fewer books’ is still 100+ a year?! I’m hardly going to be forced into a six month blogging hiatus just because I finally decide to pick up 1Q84.

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      • EXACTLY! I mean, each year since I started using Goodreads, I’ve read well over 100 books, and yet that’s what I usually set my goal to, simply because it’s a nice, round number. Even so, I lowered it to 90 this year, in this hopes I’d feel less ‘pressure’ about numbers, and might reach for some of those longer books more often. But it’s only October and I’ve already hit 100 anyway? So where was I feeling this pressure from in the first place? Clearly, I read a lot, and picking up a 500+ book every now and then isn’t going to change that!

        I think for me it’s the fact that I’m constantly discovering new books that I’m excited about, so my brain tells me to read as many as possible, so I can get to them all. I guess it’s the bookish FOMO. Maybe? Who knows?

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      • I do the same thing, I set my goal to 75 this year thinking I wanted something I knew was going to be manageable so I wouldn’t stress about numbers, but here I am, stressing about numbers. I guess not even in a ‘I need to read x amount of books by the end of the year’ kind of way and more in a ‘I have all these different reading goals that I’m trying to accomplish and how am I going to get to them all if I spend two weeks on one book’ kind of way. But that’s also silly because again, I read A Little Life in 4 days but it took me 4 months to read Days Without End which was 250 pages 🤔 So it’s not even like long book = slow and short book = fast so why does my brain insist on simplifying it into that?!

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    • Moby Dick is the WORST. I had to read it junior year of high school and it was excruciating. I’ve never read The Last of the Mohicans, I don’t think there was much danger of me ever picking that up but now I’ll definitely make sure to stay away! Syllabuses like that were exactly why I didn’t major in English lol, though Italian Lit wasn’t much better honestly…

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  2. I was so pleased that A Little Life made my list, and a little surprised at how long some of the books I’d read actually were! I have a tendency to put off longer books too, particularly if they’re part of a series. It’s just easier to commit to reading just one long project book then a series I think (hence Les Mis, Jonathan Strange, even War & Peace). Three of the books I’m pretty sure will be 5 star reads for me though are over 500 pages so I keep putting them off even though I know I’ll love them – why am I like this?!

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    • I was so surprised that ALL made the list! I mean, I know it’s a long book but I guess I don’t think of it as being over 700 pages?! But yes, long series are so intimidating! (Speaking of which, we still need to read Robin Hobb!) So many of my favorite books are 500+ pages so it’s super dumb that I keep postponing them for literally no reason… At least you’re reading Anna Karenina, that’s quite impressive!

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  3. According to Goodreads, the longest book I’ve read is IT, at 1,392 pages. Classy. (I’m with you emotionally on Moby-Dick, but I read it at the dumbest time possible – while preparing for my Finals, despite it not being a book I was going to be examined on at any point – so I feel like I owe it another read.)

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    • I have not read It, or any King for that matter, shamefully. But I’m sure that’s a lot of people’s longest book. 1400 pages is quite the page count for such a commercial title.

      I feel like I am also being unfair to Moby Dick as I had to read it in an American Lit class when I was sixteen and I certainly hope I have evolved as a reader since then… but my god, I cannot put myself through that again.

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      • King is a lot better than I expected him to be (that’s the only one of his that I’ve read) – he’s much better on a sentence level than the genre snobbery had led me to imagine. I’ll certainly try him again.

        Nah, if you were focusing on it the first time around and you didn’t like it, there’s no need to make yourself do it – second time, surely!

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      • I’ve been meaning to give King a try, but I probably won’t reach for It, I remember being bored by the movie when I was younger and I just don’t find clowns terribly scary or intriguing. But, lots of others to choose from.

        Agreed! A lot of books I read for school fall in that camp of ‘I should probably give you another try but instead I will just unfairly hate you for the rest of eternity, sorry.’

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      • God, I find clowns terrifying, so It was obviously always going to work for me… A lot of people have told me that Needful Things, Misery, Pet Sematary and The Shining are all good places to start.

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      • I’ve heard all of those recommended as good starting places except for Needful Things, which I haven’t even heard of (how is this man so prolific?!), but I shall go look that one up!

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  4. First things first, your favourite HP book to be The Order of the Phoenix is very much on brand. It is gutwrenching and I have not reread it once. Because, well, relentlessly bleak!

    According to Goodreads the longest book I have read is The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, which btw could have been 300 pages shorter. Second is The Count of Monte Cristo, which I do not remember being that long.

    Also, I am with you on sometimes putting longer books off. But then again, I really do love short books and the punch they can pack.

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    • So many people have OotP as their least favorite, so when I say it is my favorite I usually get ‘WHAT, REALLY???’ as a reply and I’m just like… yes? Are you really that surprised? But, I love the spirit of resilience in that book just as much as the dark moments. (And I will admit that it has my least favorite chapter in the entire series, which is Hagrid talking about his trip to see the giants.)

      I can’t believe how prolific Brandon Sanderson is when all of his books are so long. How can someone write that much? And I really need to read The Count of Monte Cristo.

      I love short impactful books as well. But it’s also dumb that I put off longer books when a lot of the time I end up loving those too.

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      • I cannot even remember that scene, it has been so long. I remember Sirius though and ugh. I do plan on rereading it eventually and maybe I’ll like it more, being older and stuff.

        He churns out books in a serious rate, I have no idea how he does it either. I do always want to like his books more than I do (I do appreciate how romance-less they are).

        The Count of Monte Cristo is quite cool. I think I’d love it even more now.

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      • Of course I had to be the weirdo who never liked Sirius, so I’m never terribly affected by his death when I reread it. But Harry is my favorite character so obviously I do feel for him… it’s just not my saddest HP death by a long shot.

        Fantasy without romance is a thing I definitely need more of in my life.

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    • I’m glad you enjoyed War and Peace more than I did! Something about that story just wasn’t clicking with me, and I found it to be a bit of a slog… which had surprised me since I loved Les Mis so much and the premises seemed rather similar (despite being from different countries). A Little Life is fantastic!

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  5. I’ve read a couple of long ones recently, namely Anna Karenina and Middlemarch. AK wasn’t too bad but I definitely didn’t feel that Middlemarch was worth the time it took to get through! I’d love to read Les Miserables at some point as I love the movie (I know it will have a different feel but the overall story will be the same) – it’s just so huge and intimidating! And A Storm of Swords was my favourite instalment of ASOIAF too 🙂

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    • Both of those are on my shelf but they’re so intimidating! I definitely want to read Anna Karenina at some point though. I’m not totally sold on Middlemarch though I do know some people who really loved it… it just seems very dry! But yes, I’d highly recommend Les Mis if you’re already familiar with the story; there’s so much depth to the book and it’s such a rewarding read.

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