Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • Hayley

      Signing Up   11/06/2018

      Signing Up is once again available. New members are very welcome
    • Hayley

      February Supporter Giveaway   02/07/2019

      February already! And with February comes the next supporter giveaway. This month, with great thanks once again to www.thestorygift.co.uk , we have a brilliantly bookish set of 'storyteller' pencils (featuring famous first lines) and a retro library card notebook!      As always, you'll be automatically entered into the giveaway if you support the forum on patreon, or if your pre-patreon membership is still active. If you want to be involved in the giveaway but don't currently support, you can join the patreon at any point in February here:  www.patreon.com/bookclubforum . 
Athena

The length of books and the influence on your reading

Recommended Posts

About ten years ago I would mostly read bigger (fantasy and science-fiction) books. The more pages the better. Then I started to be (re-)interested in other genres, such as contemporary fiction, which generally feature shorter books, and more standalones. There was a time where I found I didn't get around to reading shorter books as much, because I felt they'd be "over soon" or that I could finish them in less than a day (while they would still require processing power afterwards). A while ago I started to read lots of short books, including children's books, partly for our monthly read-a-thons. This year I'm trying to read without too much pressure, and trying to read some bigger books as well as smaller and medium sized ones.

 

I've been reluctant to start a number of big books (ie. 1000 pages), because they are so big and intimidating. I have read some great big books, but somehow really big books still intimidate me and I find myself reluctant to start some of them. The biggest book I read last year (2016) was The Stand, which I really enjoyed reading. Likewise if a series has a lot of books, and it is a series where the stories aren't standalone, it can intimidate me too. Some children's series are relatively standalone, and then you can read just one without having a cliffhanger (I don't like cliffhangers), or even read them out of order (I do that sometimes depending on library availability). But when it's a series that needs to be read in order and it is one story, then longer series can intimidate me too and I'm sometimes reluctant to start them. Even though some of my favourite series are longer series (like The Wheel of Time).

 

I guess it's also that reading a book (or a book series) can be a bit of a commitment, and since I'm a mood reader, if the book is longer I have to be in that mood longer. I can't read more than one book at a time, I find that difficult.

 

All that said, I'm not a big fan of short stories. I have read some great ones, but a lot of the time I'm not particularly moved by a short story. I prefer novels. The story goes more in-depth, you get to know the characters better. For me, my ideal book length is between 250 and 500 pages. Of course I have favourites outside of that, both below 250 as well as above 500.

 

Does the length of a book influence your reading?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I guess the answer would be: It depends on the book. If I like the book then its length is not an issue but it can be a pain to read if not, even if the book has 200 pages or less. I feel that short stories don't have enough time to develop characters properly so by that fact alone I prefer thick books. 

 

Generally I try to mix the genres and authors so I don't get bored of the same thing. I am on my third consecutive book where the characters speak with southern accents and use southern language. I am really looking forward to my next book that will most probably include proper grammar and not deal with bleak themes. There's so only so much of the genre, language or particular author I can take at a time. Unless we are talking about Austen ofc. 

 

As far as series go, I never interrupt them. If the there are seven books, then I will read them in order before moving to something else. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Personally, I kinda prefer shorter stories. I like short stories around 100 pages just fine, and I think an ideal length for a book is somewhere around 200-300.

I don't mind reading thicker tomes, though like you, I always feel reluctant to actually start on them. Therefore, I only buy really thick books when I know I really, really want to read them.

I don't mind long series, I actually prefer them. If they are awesome, more content for me. If the books don't keep me interested anymore, I have no qualms to just break off a series in the middle, cliffhangers or not.

 

I like to be able to read something different often. I don't mind reading several books at once, but with the bigger books I usually want to get them finished. So it's some kind of itch, that gets annoying, when I read the same book for a few weeks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was exactly like you Athena, the bigger the book, the better. Whereas now, I'm reading more 300-400 page books.

 

I still get the same thrill when I see a book with 800+ pages, but I often have to stop myself getting excited as my reading pace is not like it used to be. :( So if I don't want to be stuck reading the same book for months on end, I'm more likely to pass on it and read something smaller. Having said that, I didn't do too badly with the Ken Follett Century trilogy books I read last year, so it does depend a bit on mood and what else I have going on in my life. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm a slower reader -- any 500+ page book is a month long commitment for me -- so I have to be selective when it comes to thicker books, as we'll be spending a lot of time together.  :lol:  If the book turns out to be fantastic, then I couldn't be happier.  My preferred book length is between 200-300 pages.  Shorter is fine too.  Characters can be as well defined in a 150 page novella as in an 800 page chunker; it all depends on the skill of the author.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If it`s a ` new to me` author, then I do think yikes at the sight of a big book ; if it`s an author I really like, then I`m happy.  :smile:

 

I do have some longer books which have been sitting in my TBR for ages - that Barbara Kingsolver book about butterflies, for instance. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting answers :)!

 

If it`s a ` new to me` author, then I do think yikes at the sight of a big book ; if it`s an author I really like, then I`m happy.  :smile:

That's a good point! I agree, if it's an author I love, then I'm less hesistant to start a longer book by them, but if it's an author new-to-me or an author of whom I'm not sure (ie. because of books I liked and books I didn't like so much, by the same author), I'm more reluctant.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't much care for short stories as I do like my stories longer and meatier. I won't go for a 700+ page book very easily: that'll take a long time to read and I'm wary of whether I have the time and stamina for it. I have a few really long books on my TBR that are still there, year after year, because I'm too intimidated to pick them up: Lord of the Rings, A Suitable Boy, The Pillars of the Earth, Sinuhe the Egyptian, to name a few. And yet all of these books are supposed to be good if not great! 

Edited by frankie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If it's a long book and it's good then I can still read it fairly quickly, I got through most of the Song of Ice and Fire books in about 3 or 4 weeks (reading in bed, too heavy to carry around) except for the 5th which was a slog.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just remembered the main reason for not reading too many Big Books - I can`t get a big book in my handbag ! If I`m at the Doctor`s, Dentist, Optician, Acupuncturist,Physiotherapist,  I always take a book - and can sometimes get through a few chapters ( either cos I`m early and/or they`re running late ). :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is an interesting one for me, because I'd love to just say that the length of a book doesn't affect me at all - because I don't believe it should, unless it's for health reasons. I dislike the fact that so many people are reluctant to read a 800/900 page novel because of reading targets or the like. It should be about quality and if that means reading one book over a month instead of 10, I don't think people should hold back from taking on the big beasties.

 

That being said, it does affect me. Last year, in September, I was 11 books behind my target for the year. I deliberately read a number of 200-page books to get myself back in the swing. Luckily, I actually picked out a lot of rewarding/fantastic reads, but it's easy to pick just on size alone and I am making a conscious effort not to do that during 2017.

 

If a book captures my attention over the next 12 months, and there is no reason why I shouldn't read it, I'm going to go ahead and pick it up regardless of size. I think I owe that to the author. If they feel like that's how many pages it took to tell their story, then I should give it the attention it deserves.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I LOVE big books, they Always attract my attention when I'm in ther library of at someone's house and there are a lot of books. However I started reading the Lord of the Rings when I was about 10 and that's been clearly too early, because now I'm kinda scared to reread the series. I really want to reread them, but I can't seem to get over the fact that it's so long. I think short books can be great too, but I sometimes try to avoid them because I read really quickly and then I finish them within a day. I like to read a book for a week or so, because I think a lot more about the book, than that I just read it in one or two go's. And when I finish a book I usually don't really think a lot about books when I've finished them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm a size doesn't matter kind of a gal, and on Kindle you don't have the carrying issues. I try to make my reading as eclectic as possible. Having read about the barriers publishers are putting up to new others, my 2017 resolution is to read more indie authors. I'll let you know how it goes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Overall I find the length of a book fairly immaterial of itself.  I think that's best illustrated by the fact that my all-time top dozen includes the likes of Bleak House, Middlemarch, War and Peace, Wolf Hall and A Suitable Boy, yet the one that tops the lot is A Month in the Country (barely 120 pages)!  I'm currently in the midst of a long term project, the Maigret series, and am loving it, yet barely a book rises above 180 pages.

 

But that's because they are the sort of books I find make for pretty easy reading.  Something like The Pillars of the Earth or the bigger fantasy/science fiction novels would be hopelessly daunting, as I generally can't abide that sort of writing any more (the exception being Lord of the Rings, twice read in four or five days, unputdownable).  In other words, it's not the length that matters, but the nature of the material, different for all of us.

 

Having said that, I love much historical non-fiction, and have a number of fairly chunky volumes, but do find them a bit daunting at times - mainly in term time when I find it hard to settle to longer books of that sort.  They are excellent, but require a level of concentration that I can't give them then.  It's why I tend to only get through 2 or 3 of those a year.

Edited by willoyd

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It definitely influences my reading. I very rarely read any books that are more than about 500 pages long. It takes a pretty special book to tempt me to read it when it is longer than that, as it just takes too long. In my experience, a lot of these doorstep books are filled with unnecessary narrative anyway that doesn't really add much to the story and I end up just skimming through a lot of it. I prefer a book that I can focus and concentrate on that holds my attention and that is usually shorter books. About 350 pages is the average for me, although of course it does depend on the subject and the writer. Non fiction tends to be longer.    

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think it has any impact on my choices.  I tend to prefer a bit longer books, but if an idea about a book grabs me that slight preference goes out of the window. 

 

When I was young, I didn't care for short stories at all.  I couldn't appreciate them, but for the last...er...30 years or so, I like them.  They can have startling impacts!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It depends on my mojo, and is as influential in my choice as genre. It took me a while to pick up A Little Life because it's a fairly hefty book, but my mojo was going full swing so I was happy to work through it. Often, after a big chunky read, I'll want something shorter that simply won't require as much focus over time. I get distracted easily, and if I get distracted from a hefty book a third or a half into it, I won't want to continue due to forgetting the earlier parts, and won't want to review the earlier part due to having read it already. Or, possibly, a book might have only been 450 pages but was densely written (e.g. The Essex Serpent), therefore took time and attention, and I need something light after it. Thrillers are easier (for me) to read than some other genres, so essentially if I'm looking for a palette cleanser after something chunky or draining, I'll go for a 350 page thriller. :) So, both length and genre are important parts of my decision making process.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The length of a book would certainly influence which edition of a book I bought, but if I wanted to read something, I'd buy it regardless of length.  I'd be more inclined to buy long books on Kindle, just because they're easier to carry around and hold, and also if a book has a small typeface, I'd again buy the Kindle version where I can choose the size of the font onscreen.  Having said that, there are definitely books I put off reading if they're very long, but I do get around to them eventually :lol:  There are a couple of long old tomes on the English Counties challenge that I'm definitely putting off for the moment, but I will absolutely read them at some point. :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It has no bearing for me. If the book appeals then it appeals.

 

I love immersing myself in my reading, so a long well written book or a good series allows me to lose myself.  :smile:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just remembered the main reason for not reading too many Big Books - I can`t get a big book in my handbag ! If I`m at the Doctor`s, Dentist, Optician, Acupuncturist,Physiotherapist,  I always take a book - and can sometimes get through a few chapters ( either cos I`m early and/or they`re running late ). :)

There's the reason I don't get hard covers any more. e.x. I liked Fall of Giants from Follett, so I got Winter of the World right as it was released. As hardcover.

And then I never read it, because it was just too massive to take anywhere. I read a lot on the train to work, and that book was just not handy for that. In the end I sold it after 4 years of not touching it, and will probably just get the eBooks one of those days.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It depends on my mojo, and is as influential in my choice as genre. It took me a while to pick up A Little Life because it's a fairly hefty book, but my mojo was going full swing so I was happy to work through it. Often, after a big chunky read, I'll want something shorter that simply won't require as much focus over time. I get distracted easily, and if I get distracted from a hefty book a third or a half into it, I won't want to continue due to forgetting the earlier parts, and won't want to review the earlier part due to having read it already. Or, possibly, a book might have only been 450 pages but was densely written (e.g. The Essex Serpent), therefore took time and attention, and I need something light after it. Thrillers are easier (for me) to read than some other genres, so essentially if I'm looking for a palette cleanser after something chunky or draining, I'll go for a 350 page thriller. :) So, both length and genre are important parts of my decision making process.

That makes a lot of sense :). I vary long and short reads too as well as genres (and age ranges) and light vs. heavy. Some of the genres I read contain more longer books and some genres contain more shorter books (at least, out of the books I own or want to read). Like fantasy books are often generally long whereas for example the detective stories or the rom-coms I read are usually short to medium size.

 

How nice to get so many replies from all of you in this thread :)!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For me, it mostly depends on mood. I have to admit, picking up a very lengthy book can be daunting....I don't know why though, because if I don't like it I can always abandon it. :lol: I think it's because you are 'tied into' that book for a longer period of time, but of course if it's a good book, then surely that's a good thing. I can't read too many hefty books in a row. I did that over Christmas with Reamde and David Copperfield, and I struggled because I wanted to pick up something new. I suppose, for a big book, it has to be good all the way through for it to hold your attention for that long. If it's a shorter book, and it starts to dip in the middle it doesn't matter too much because you will probably finish it in a couple of days anyway. :dunno:

 

Some of my favourite books are doorstoppers (The Stand and IT) but I enjoyed them all the way through and they were easy to read. I usually try to read a few shorter books (say 300 pages or less) in between longer ones, so I get more variety of stories.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My book reading the same as a lot of people depends on my mood.  If it is an author that I have read before and enjoyed the book then I am more tempted to pick another book by that author.  But then again I can go for ages without reading a book and just read a magazine.

 

Because I have got such a large tbr list I go by how many days I am likely to be able to read for at one go and if it is an easy book to leave if I have to for a week before picking it up again.  Hefty books I have to think long and hard about but if I like the sound of the story I will start it and stop off and read something else inbetween as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would say I don't mind the length, it's actually the size of the font and paragraph size that gets to me. I find it hard to focus on long paragraphs. It feels longer and more tedious. I've been reading thick books since the year I learned to read, but I'm more likely to pick up a modern book with more dialogue and shorter paragraphs, even though many thick books I have read I've loved. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now



×