Previously- How We Disappeared Review |Coming Soon- The Longest Books on my TBR
Given that people may have some extra time on their hands for a reason that I refuse to mention I thought that I would tell you about the longest books that I have ever read.
For this list, I am only going to include stand-alone books, which means books such as Words of Radiance, or Kingdom of Ash are not included simply because it’s hard to talk about books that are in the middle of a series.
1,166 pages- Varney the Vampyre by James Malcolm Rymer
Varney, the Vampyre is a penny dreadful originally published in weekly instalments from 1845-1847. If you don’t know what a penny dreadful is, or was, it is essentially a serialised story for the masses, that means it was produced very cheaply and sold for a relatively low price, often a penny so that it was affordable to the working class of Victorian London. The subjects were often sensationalised, full of drama and violence that would appeal to the reader. Why am I telling you all this background information? Because if you want to appreciate Varney then you need to know what you’re getting into.
If you like the drama of a soap opera, but wish there was more nineteenth-century vampire drama then this is the story for you. If you’ve always wanted to read about a vampire in disguise trying to marry a young virgin, only to have the wedding stopped dramatically, then this is definitely up your alley because that happens multiple times. Often credited as the first depiction of a sympathetic vampire this story was fascinating to me, to the point that I used it in my undergraduate dissertation. I love Varney, but I’m very aware that it is not going to work for every sort of reader. If you are interested then I would recommend you check it out on Project Gutenberg for free before you do anything else.
933 pages- Ulysses by James Joyce
Before I tell you about this book, let me set the scene for you: I am in my final year of an undergraduate English literature course, and I ranked this as the 9th (out of ten) potential modules. I was not looking forward to it one bit. And then, a miracle happened and I fell in love with Ulysses. As with Varney, this is a weird one and not an easy read in the slightest. It’s very experimental, a true landmark of modernist fiction. You will not understand, or even register half of the references, so there’s little point in trying. But the payoff when you finish this book is insane. Ulysses follows a day in the life of Harold Blood as he roams his hometown of Dublin for the day. Every chapter chronicles an hour as he moves from place to place not doing much. What you need to do with this one is dedicate a couple of hours a week to get through one or two of these mammoth chapters. Don’t rush. Don’t worry. Just read.
865 pages- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
As a note, this is the first book on the list that I did not read for school. I have wanted to read Anna Karenina probably since I saw the 2012 adaptation and fell in love with the love story between Anna, a married socialite, and Vronsky. Thankfully I was not disappointed. For some reason Russian Literature both fascinates and intimidates me. Anna Karenina though was such an easy read that it shocked me. It’s still a classic of course but I was expecting to struggle much more, especially because it’s a translation, but it turned out to be a very pleasant reading experience. At its core, this is a love story, but it feels as though half of the book is dedicated to telling you all about politics. While I don’t enjoy the subject of politics, I was happy enough with the love story elements that I could just skim over these parts a little more. And no, I am not ashamed to admit that.
864 pages- Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Of all the books on this list, Outlander is probably the one which I read in the shortest amount of time. What can I say? Gabaldon has a lovely writing style. The story follows Claire a nurse on a post-WWII honeymoon in Scotland when she finds hurls transported to the sixteenth century. As with Anna Karenina if you’re not on board with the romance then you will struggle. However, if you enjoy romance, particularly historical romance then you should pick this book up. Althoguh you defitnely have to have bought into the romance from what I remmebr it is an action-heavy books. There are a lot of location changes thoguhout whcih keeps the pace moving, and keept me reading.
858 pages- The Once and Future King by T.H. White
We started with some school books and now we’re ending with one. I read The Once and Future King as part of a postgraduate module on the myth of King Arthur in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Now, I like King Arthur generally but my real fascination with Arthurian myth lies in the character of Mordred. T.H. White’s version of Mordred, a sort of Mosley-Esque fascist is a thing to behold and I doubt that we will ever be blessed with such a version again. I should probably say that The Once and Future King is broken up into five “books’ which take place at a different point in Arthur’s journey. There are two books which I particularly love, and would read again, and the rest were just so-so. Maybe I’m not recommending all 858 pages, but rather Book Three: The Ill-Made Knight, and Book Four: The Candle in the Wind. However, these two books make the rest of the retelling worth readin in my opinion. Also this is defintley the Aurthurian story to read, don’t be lured in by those shorter re-retellings that fail to capture the heart of this story the way that White does
853 pages- Middlemarch by George Eliot.
I wanted to include a bonus book, and it’s a book that I had to read during my freshers year of university (another school book, are you surprised). Everyone talks about Middlemarch like it’s a great monster of a book but it’s nothing to be afraid of. I read this in the space of two weeks and quite enjoyed it. Essentially it tells the story of the inhabitants of a little English town of Middlemarch. Honestly, I don’t remember an awful lot about it, but I did read it about six years ago so all I do remember is that I loved Dorothea, Will Laidislaw, and Rosamund. I know that may not seem like much but it is a nice book, and I think you get a lot of brownie points for reading it.
So what have we learnt? That I read a lot of long books for my English degrees? I’m sorry that this is so classic-literature heavy if that’s not what you’re looking for. I’m not sure what sort of genres you associate me with, but these are the longest stand-alone books that I have read.
What about you? What is the longest book you have read (you can use GoodReads to find out), and did you like it?
Coming Soon- The Longest Books on my TBR