Sunday 18 January 2009

The Long and Short of It

Inspiration fails me once more, and I have 400 pages of The Book Thief to read before Tuesday, so I shall put forward another brief poll. Maybe I should make a post which collects these together... so far we've discovered that Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens are neck-and-neck; everybody except me would choose music over art; Jane Eyre pips Wuthering Heights to the post. Something a little less specific today:

Long books or short books?

Obviously we all read some of each, but which draws you in? An enormous novel you can lose yourself in for weeks, or a novella you can get through in an afternoon? Gigantic biographies or Very Brief Lives? Perhaps you don't have any preference at all, but most people I've spoken to lean one way or the author. Get voting...


  1. Thomas Mann's "The Magic Mountain" is a really good long novel. Have you read it ?

  2. I generally much prefer long books; I like to get drawn in, even if it takes a hundred pages or so to get hooked. That being said, there are few things I hate more than a really long book with a frustratingly ambiguous ending. (ahem, Villette, Gone With the Wind)

  3. I don't think I can choose. I have read more short books but it's not because they're preferable. The one thing I would say about big books is that while I love them just as much, I sometimes hesitate before deciding to read them. I only ever read one book at a time, or two at the very most, so opening a big book is a big commitment.

    Speaking of which, I would love to see the results of a poll on whether people read several books at once or only one at a time. I suspect the readers who read multiple books at once would greatly outnumber readers like myself.

  4. Sorry Simon but both draw me in. I love long books and I love short books. Usually I have both on the go.

  5. I love shorter than short novels. i love shot stories so I'm firmly in the short camp. But of course that doesn't mean that I won't read a long book if it appeals.
    And I usually read one book at a time

  6. Good books! Twenty pages or five hundred isn't important, it is the quality of the writing that matters.

    To contribute to Evie's poll, I often have two or three books being read concurrently.

    Dark Puss

  7. If I'm on holiday and have two weeks of uninterupted reading time, I have to go for the longer book, preferably over 1000 pages. I love books that cover several generations and you can't do this in a short book. I save up my long books for holiday time.

    Day to day, I go for the easy reads as I know I wouldn't keep track of the number of characers or plotline if I'm reading it over several weeks.

    Great idea for a topic.

    Laura Essendine
    Author – The Accidental Guru
    The Accidental Guru Blog
    The Books Limited Blog

  8. I am drawn to large books, I just love feeling the weight of a good book in my hands.

    Going along with the question that Evie asks; I can only read one book at a time.

  9. As a student, buying books to read on the train or in the vacation, it was always "Long" - better value for money! But these days, the comfort of holding a book is also a factor - and that is before I get on the subject of content!

  10. What about books that are somewhat in between? Not that i'm trying to be difficult, of course!

    Just after considering the question, I think that most of my books fall in between (around 450 pages). I would really consider that an especially long book.

    I think that this might be a close tie. But I love the questions!

  11. Anything over 400 pages makes me nervous (and won't fit in my handbag!)

  12. Long tales, complicated characters and worlds you can lose yourself in, that you come out of a month later slightly disoriented and not quite the same... You've made me realise I tend to read great big novels. Maybe I feel a bit cheated when they end just as I'm getting into them.
    I also totally love 1000 word fiction, so what does that mean?!

  13. It must be the Victorian in me, but I do love a good three-volume novel...

    Also, more recently, long biographies.


  14. I think overall I prefer longer books, anything less than 300 pages seems short to me. Unless I don't care for it! But I do love the 400-600ish page book best, something to live with for awhile and sink into.

  15. Pre 1840s -short novels. 1840-Edwardian -the longer and more volumes the better. 20th Century short with no exceptions that spring to mind though perhaps Lord of the Rings? Hmm no, I always want Bilbo and Sam just to get on with it at the end. It's the first time I've posted here I believe, but I do enjoy your blog so thank you very much! Donna

  16. I completely agree with Donna both about length of books and enjoying you blog. I can't remmber a time when I only had one book on the go at once!
    Deb W

  17. I tend to be very verbose when I'm writing, so I'm always highly impressed when someone manages to fit an entire story into very little space. In the same way, long books can sometimes tend to be the result of a complete lack of editing (COUGHHarryPotterandtheOrderofthePhoenixHACK).

    But then, I read and loved Les Miserables and The Lord of the Rings, and I'm currently stuck halfway through the Gormenghast trilogy, so maybe I'm just consistently inconsistent...

  18. Emma is Austen's best. Copperfield is Dickens' worst; although, I will take a long Austen, or even a Dickens, over Hemingway any day. (I believe even Dickens was bored by the end of that thing, and his true self was coming out, which is not a good thing.)

  19. I'm another who has to answer "both" - a slim volume to read while commuting (limited room in my bag, while larger ones can be read at home. Which answers Evie's question - I almost always have at least 2 books on the go (home and away) and often more.

  20. Phil, I thought that about the last few HPs too, especially that one - I think her editor suddenly realised how famous JK was getting and thought that she wasn't allowed to tamper with a single word of her genius any more. A little unnecessary.
    You'll be a bit disappointed about the latter half of Gormenghast, it's a shame Mervyn Peake went crazy - savour the first half, it's a work of art for the imagination :o)

  21. I generally prefer shorter books say around 300 pages (I suppose thats more medium than short) I do read long books but I find myself getting gripped whiulst aso thinking 'but to this one book I could read five' if you know what I mean.


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