I’m currently reading Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, which I have had on my to-read shelf for an eternity. I’ve always meant to read it, but I haven’t yet because I’ve been so intimidated. It’s about 800 pages long. Whenever I choose another book to read, I just look at it askance, hoping it won’t notice that it’s being passed over yet again for a book with a more manageable page length. It’s a kind of book-indenture. If I start it, I feel I must forsake so many other books for such a long time, that I would just rather absorb the guilt of not reading it than make that kind of commitment. But no longer! I’m making 2017 The Year of the Tome!
If you too can overcome your anxiety of the doorstop-book and are willing to risk a sprained wrist, here are 19 other long books to entice you:
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
Why I want to read it: I heard about it ad nauseam on Oprah. And it’s supposed to be worth the effort.
Page length: 566
Pilcrow by Adam Mars Jones
Why I want to read it: It’s about a severely disabled, gay boy growing up in 1950s England. It looks cerebral and magical and introspective, which is right up my alley.
Page length: 525
A Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin
Why I want to read it: Looks like a whopper of an adventure story.
Page length: 792
We, the Drowned by Carsten Jensen
Why I want to read it: I’ve read half of it, and for some reason I put it down, even though I was enjoying it. It’s full of magical realism and the sea. And that cover!
Page length: 688
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Why I want to read it: Doesn’t everyone? Not to mention, I have a soft spot for Russian literature. I can’t believe I haven’t read this already.
Page length: 1273
Seveneves by Neal Stephenson
Why I want to read it: Dystopian sci-fi saga. ‘Nuff said.
Page length: 867
Reamde by Neal Stephenson
Why I want to read it: From reviews I’ve read, seems like a ’round-the-world thriller that leaves readers out of breath with their hair mussed. Fast pacing WITH character development, which is hard to achieve.
Page length: 1044
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
Why I want to read it: Because I haven’t read any Franzen yet (for shame). Supposed to be a cornucopia of dysfunctional characters.
Page length: 568
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
Why I want to read it: I’m not sure I do? But somehow, I just can’t let go of the idea of reading this. I’m supposed to want to read this . . . but will that carry me through a billion pages?
Page length: 1079
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
Why I want to read it: Supposed to be Murakami’s best. Every time I bring up the fact that I’ve only read Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, I hear, “But you haven’t read Wind-Up Bird?!”
Page length: 607
Tipperary by Frank Delaney
Why I want to read it: Because it’s about IRELAND.
Page length: 448
The Big Why by Michael Winter
Why I want to read it: To be candid, because it’s set in Newfoundland and the cover resembles We, The Drowned (go ahead – scroll up and see what I mean). Any book with an ocean on the cover immediately piques my interest.
Page length: 384
The Owl Killers by Karen Maitland
Why I want to read it: It’s a medieval mystery that centers around a beguinage, a group of women outcasts who challenge societal norms and the patriarchy of the church. What’s not to like?
Page length: 511
The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro
Page length: 535
Signal & Noise by John Griesemer
Why I want to read it: You got me – ocean and ship on the cover. It’s about the laying of the transatlantic telegraph cable with the background of romantic character drama.
Page length: 640
The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
Why I want to read it: It follows the transformation of six friendships from optimistic adolescence through jaded middle age.
Page length: 468
The Quick by Lauren Owen
Why I want to read it: Victorian Gothic historical fiction with a huge twist right at the beginning that no reviewers will even discuss for fear of spoilers.
Page length: 523
Life Mask by Emma Donoghue
Why I want to read it: Because I loved Slammerkin.
Page length: 672
The Lost Fleet by Barry Clifford
Why I want to read it: Because it’s about 17th century piracy, shipwrecks, and underwater archaeology, all things that I find fascinating.
Page length: 304 pages (so, not a tome, but the book is large)
The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
Why I want to read it: It’s Kate Morton. Her books are enchanting historical fiction that I never want to end, and I loved The House at Riverton
Page length: 562
Wish me luck! It should only take about 5 years to get through all of these.