Monday, March 11, 2013

Long Haul Reading

While sorting through some papers this morning (there's nothing like the loss of an important piece of paper to provide the incentive to get all the others in order), I came across an article I had clipped from the November 2011 issue of Men's Health:  A list by Stephen King of the 10 best long (ca. 1000 page) books. I think it's a wonderful list, even if several of the "books" on it are actually several books united under one title (if Stephen King hasn't earned the right to bend the rules a bit, I don't know what writer working today has).

And so, without further ado, Stephen's list of the 10 best 1000-page books:

  1. Bleak House (Charles Dickens)
  2. War and Peace (Leo Tolstoy)
  3. Infinite Jest (David Foster Wallace)
  4. The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien)
  5. Paradise Falls (Don Robertson)
  6. The Winds of War (Herman Wouk)
  7. Hurry Sundown (K.B. Gilden)
  8. The Sword of Honour Trilogy (Evelyn Waugh)
  9. The Raj Quartet (Paul Scott)
  10. A Dance to the Music of Time (Anthony Powell)
Of these, I've read two:  Infinite Jest and The Lord of the Rings.  And I really have trouble thinking of two books I've read that are more different from each other.  The Lord of the Rings is serious, earnest, straightforward, with a traditional point A to point B narrative, while Infinite Jest is ironic, over the top, convoluted, with a narrative structure that for a time had me wondering if there was a story there at all.  At times I wondered if DFW was playing an elaborate joke, and that when I "got there," I'd find there was no "there" there.  With JRRT, I had no such doubts.  

Given the interesting experiences I've had with the books I've read from this list, I'm looking forward to exploring the rest.  How about you? Do you love (or hate) any books on this list?  Are there any books you think King should have included in this list? (And if so, what would you eliminate to make room for it?)  I curious to hear what you all have to say.


  1. I guess Mr. King didn't like Victor Hugo's Les Miserables? That's probably my favorite book of that length.

    1. I've got Les Miserables in my "to read" queue right now! Once I finish it, I'll be sure to post what I thought about it.