Look, I understand that not everyone likes reading, and even fewer are courageous enough – or even like – reading books over 600 pages, which is why when you do start one, you want it to be good. There’s no disappointment like starting a long book and you can’t stop checking Instagram because it’s as gripping as a slippery bathtub.
I’ve read quite a few looong books in my time, but the ones that are good, are so good. You know how when you watch a movie or a TV show and you fall in love with it and you never want it to end? Long books are like that. They satisfy you until you’re absolutely full and can genuinely say you feel you’ve had enough – like the feeling you have after a Sunday roast at your mum’s. Delicious.
I’m sure you’ve heard me rant about ‘A Little Life’ before, but considering it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read, I’m going to keep ranting about it. Another of my Top 5 Books Ever (!) is on this list, and it’s called ‘Shantaram’. A story so long and so winding that it feels like you and the character have lived through several lifetimes by the time you turn the last page (in the best way), it’s one you just can’t miss. Even crazier, the story is based on fact. You’ll be blinking in shock as well once you read it. Apparently it’s autobiographical – although I’m sure considering he’s an escaped convict the author might be pretty easy to track down.
Kingdom of Ash clocks in at 984 pages, and believe me when I say, every single page is worth it. It’s the seventh and final book of the Throne of Glass series, so you do have a lot of legwork to do to get there, but it’s one of my favourite series of all time and I reread it every year. Did you hear me? I reread 7 books – one of which is 984 pages – every year. What are you waiting for? Get to the book store, immediately.
‘La Belle Sauvage’ is the first series of ‘The Book of Dust’ series by Philip Pullman, and a prequel of his cult series ‘His Dark Materials’. Fantastical, mystical, and set in-between the academia of Oxford, Philip draws you into a world so deeply that it feels like you’ve fallen down a literal rabbit hole. Incredible.
I have well and truly given up on my quest to read 100 books this year, as once again I have favoured 600+ page books instead of poetry anthologies, so while I’m on this train: if you have any chonky books you love and think I should read, slide into my DMs. The sexiest kind of DMs – 600+ page book recommendations. Ooh baby.
Feature image via Walter Wick, ‘I Spy: Fantasy’, 1994
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
† 814 pages
The 700-or-so pages of A Little Life that took Japanese-American author Hanya Yanagihara 18 months to write, open in a somewhat jaunty and recognisable manner: introducing four bright young things as they graduate college, their sights trained on big New York City careers.
Christian Lorentzen, in the London Review of Books, wrote that the characters "seem like stereotypical middle-class strivers plucked out of 1950s cinema", and indeed they slip into these careers somewhat easily, becoming a successful actor, painter, architect and lawyer. But soon the novel darkens, it jars and then it appals, becoming less about the four young men and more particularly about one of them: the one who won’t tell of why he limps, why he doesn’t have relationships, why he cuts. The one who won’t tell of his ugly childhood and why he fears he will never escape its horrors.
Yanagihara should be commended for creating a book that, despite being a shattering and difficult read, became a bestseller, was shortlisted for Man Booker Prize 2015 and won the Kirkus Prize in Fiction.
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
† 592 pages
A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.
Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.
Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
† 544 pages
Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.
In a mining town in Germany, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.
From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the stunningly beautiful instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.
House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas
† 800 pages
Bound by blood.
Tempted by desire.
Unleashed by destiny.
Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.
Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.
As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.
With unforgettable characters, sizzling romance, and page-turning suspense, this richly inventive new fantasy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas delves into the heartache of loss, the price of freedom—and the power of love.
Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas
† 984 pages
Aelin Galathynius has vowed to save her people ― but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. The knowledge that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, but her resolve is unraveling with each passing day…
With Aelin captured, friends and allies are scattered to different fates. Some bonds will grow even deeper, while others will be severed forever. As destinies weave together at last, all must fight if Erilea is to have any hope of salvation.
Years in the making, Sarah J. Maas's New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series draws to an explosive conclusion as Aelin fights to save herself―and the promise of a better world.
La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman
† 560 pages
Malcolm Polstead is the kind of boy who notices everything but is not much noticed himself. And so perhaps it was inevitable that he would become a spy...
Malcolm's father runs an inn called the Trout, on the banks of the river Thames, and all of Oxford passes through its doors. Malcolm and his dæmon, Asta, routinely overhear news and gossip, and the occasional scandal, but during a winter of unceasing rain, Malcolm catches wind of something new: intrigue.
He finds a secret message inquiring about a dangerous substance called Dust--and the spy it was intended for finds him.
When she asks Malcolm to keep his eyes open, Malcolm sees suspicious characters everywhere; Lord Asriel, clearly on the run; enforcement agents from the Magisterium; an Egyptian named Coram with warnings just for Malcolm; and a beautiful woman with an evil monkey for a dæmon. All are asking about the same thing: a girl--just a baby--named Lyra.
Lyra is the kind of person who draws people in like magnets. And Malcolm will brave any danger, and make shocking sacrifices, to bring her safely through the storm.
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
† 936 pages
"It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured."
So begins this epic, mesmerizing first novel set in the underworld of contemporary Bombay. Shantaram is narrated by Lin, an escaped convict with a false passport who flees maximum security prison in Australia for the teeming streets of a city where he can disappear.
Accompanied by his guide and faithful friend, Prabaker, the two enter Bombay's hidden society of beggars and gangsters, prostitutes and holy men, soldiers and actors, and Indians and exiles from other countries, who seek in this remarkable place what they cannot find elsewhere.
As a hunted man without a home, family, or identity, Lin searches for love and meaning while running a clinic in one of the city's poorest slums, and serving his apprenticeship in the dark arts of the Bombay mafia. The search leads him to war, prison torture, murder, and a series of enigmatic and bloody betrayals. The keys to unlock the mysteries and intrigues that bind Lin are held by two people. The first is Khader Khan: mafia godfather, criminal-philosopher-saint, and mentor to Lin in the underworld of the Golden City. The second is Karla: elusive, dangerous, and beautiful, whose passions are driven by secrets that torment her and yet give her a terrible power.
Burning slums and five-star hotels, romantic love and prison agonies, criminal wars and Bollywood films, spiritual gurus and mujaheddin guerrillas—this huge novel has the world of human experience in its reach, and a passionate love for India at its heart. Based on the life of the author, it is by any measure the debut of an extraordinary voice in literature.
The Count of Montecristo by Alexandre Dumas
† 560 pages
Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dantes is confined to the grim fortress of If. There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and he becomes determined not only to escape, but also to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration. Dumas’ epic tale of suffering and retribution, inspired by a real-life case of wrongful imprisonment, was a huge popular success when it was first serialized in the 1840s.