8 May 2012

A Tome, or a Delight?

There are some authors who don't seem to be able to write short books these days.
I've just begun reading a Kindle edition of BELIEVING THE LIE by Elizabeth George and have noticed that it has 8,533 "locations", and I'm currently at 5%.

That makes it almost three times the length of the last book I read.
So I checked its page length on Amazon: 624 pages in the hardcover edition.

I believe Inspector Lynley doesn't make an appearance until after half way. 
He actually appears quite early.


So how do you feel about giant tomes? What was the last really big book you read? Or do you avoid them altogether?

My last really big one was PHANTOM by Jo Nesbo, but at 450 pages that really wasn't so big.

12 comments:

Jose Ignacio Escribano said...

Kerrie at Goodreads my statistics shows the following books/year/pages: Phantom/2012/624pages; The Leopard/2011/613pages; Nemesis/2010/706pages, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest (Spanish edition) 2009/864pages.

Margot Kinberg said...

Kerrie - I've noticed that many books today seem to be longer than books used to tend to be. I tend not to reach for a long book unless it's been very well-recommended by people I trust, or it's by a favourite author.

Maxine Clarke said...

I recently commented at Jessica Mann's blog as she asked a similar question. I don't mind a book being long if it needs to be. Elizabeth George's last two books have been bloated and ponderous, so I suspect this one is, too. There is no need for them to be this long. Nesbo's books are long but the opposite of slow - they are packed with incident, thrills, etc. Some of it is inevitably irrelevant, but one does not mind so much as there is a drive to it all.
Many books, crime fiction in particular, have a natural length of 200-250 pages but unfortunately there seems to be a modern view that readers want more. Never mind the quantity, what is important is quality! Tana French's latest, Broken Harbour, is very long too, and slow, but totally absorbing and focused - the author knows where she is going and does not constantly get diverted like George with her wilful misdirections and irrelevancies.

ShaReKay said...

In general I love giant books. In Elizabeth George's case, not so much.

I have read all her other Lynley books and even bought the last two in hardcover. However, I think the series has become tedious and overdone, and Ms George needs a serious editor -- one who is not afraid to tell her that characters are flat, the plot is dull, and, yeah, you're dragging it out to no purpose. I can't bring myself to pick up the latest Lynley, even though I had a chance to grab it off the New Fiction shelves of the library a couple of weeks ago.

Just my humble opinion, of course.

pastoffences said...

Is it a vicious circle that starts with the popularity of series characters? Readers like getting to know them, which encourages excursions into the characters' private lives and thoughts, which creates additional length...

Irene said...

I agree, it's almost like they were getting paid by the # of words. My last was 386pgs. more than enough.

Clarissa Draper said...

Does she get paid by the word. I often skip through most of her books because they are filled with filler. Drives me mad! I want to look forward to the Lynley books but I have to make time to read it and it's bothersome.

Uriah Robinson said...

My statistics Ross Macdonald: The Zebra Striped Hearse [278 pages] Agatha Christie: Peril at End House [297 pages] Georges Simenon: My Friend Maigret [154 pages] Roseanna; Sjowall and Wahloo [245 pages]. Those guys sold a few books so why this explosion in book length?
Is it possible that the reading, book buying public want their money worth, and look down on short novellas?

TracyK said...

I agree with Maxine. If a long book is good and keeps you interested, it is worth the time. I love Elizabeth George but that last book was way too long. Unfortunately, unless you know the author it is hard to know whether you want to commit to a long book. I read The Company by Robert Littell at 800 pages, and it was good but drove me crazy.

Donna said...

Long books are fine, if well written and interesting. Agreed some writers need a good editor (think Harry Potter #4 and #5). I have noticed this length over quality problem with some series mystery writers. Sometimes you can attribute it to the real-life, dull, plodding pace of some police work. I've only read about 6 of the Inspector Lynley books and am disappointed to hear that they get bloated uselessly.

Janet Rudolph said...

I call them doorstops. There's much in favor of shorter books...looking forward to the next rather than drudging through to finish. Of course, that being said it depends on the quality of the book.

Margaret @ BooksPlease said...

I always used to prefer longer books, thinking they were books I could really get my teeth into and enjoy being part of their worlds. Shorter books also seemed so insubstantial, leaving me wanting more. But these days I go for the shorter books - less padding, easier to hold and consequently easier to read.

I've recently finished A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel, a door stopper of 872 pages about the French Revolution and I heaved a great sigh of relief when I got to the last page, but I did enjoy the experience.

I think I need more variety these days and having finished that one, I immediately chose the shortest books I could find.

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