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Really Long Books

1001 Books to read before you die

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Nov 29, 2007, 2:36pm Top

We've talked about the shortest books on the list, and now I'm wondering what the longest books are. Which of the books are over 1000 pages long? I know that Suitable Boy and War and Peace are about 1500 pages long. Any others?

The Taebek Mountains by Jo Jung-rae sounds long . . . apparently it's a "ten-volume epic" with a cast of almost 500 characters. According to the entry for this one, the book (books?) has sold more than six million copies. Yet I can't find traces of it anywhere--not at the library, not at Amazon, not at Abebooks. Has anyone actually seen this book in English?

Edited: Nov 29, 2007, 3:11pm Top

Les Misérables is about 1400 pages (varies with the edition/translation.) Anna Karenina, I think. A lot of the older books on the list are over 1000, I think. Cryptonomicon is around 1000 pages. Infinite Jest is over 1000.
Edited to add U.S.A, which is kind of cheating, since it's a trilogy.

Nov 29, 2007, 5:54pm Top

War and Peace is generally around 1000 pages in length, though it may depend on your translation and the size of the font.
Infinite Jest is about 1100, including the footnotes
Anna Karenina is generally about 800-850.

Anna Karenina can be read fairly quickly though.

Nov 29, 2007, 6:09pm Top

I've nearly read two this year: Don Quixote can be over 1000, as can Gone with the Wind.

But they're both great, so I'm happy!

Nov 29, 2007, 6:30pm Top

#2 Edited to add U.S.A, which is kind of cheating, since it's a trilogy.


Yeah, but it's listed as one "book." And that reminds me, there is also The Lord of the Rings, which is three books that I'm sure total well over 1000 pages.

Do these make up for the very short books and short stories on the list? Isn't it funny that any one of these equals The Yellow Wallpaper or The Purloined Letter in terms of counting toward one's progress on the list?

Nov 29, 2007, 10:41pm Top

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Nov 29, 2007, 10:43pm Top

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Nov 30, 2007, 12:28pm Top

# 6 More than my War and Peace at 696,

Yikes! Does it have teeny-tiny little print that runs from margin to margin, and leaves no white space? I find reading books like that just torture. I need a nice, comfortable edition.

The copy of War and Peace that I'm looking at has 1,456 pages, which is a huge difference (several regular-length books worth!).

Where are we with long books from the 1001 list so far? Let's see . . . War and Peace, Lord of the Rings, Don Quixote, Gone with the Wind, Les Miserables, Infinite Jest, U.S.A., Cryptonomicon, Suitable Boy and The Taebek Mountains (the last one which apparently no one has ever seen). Any others?

I thought I was going to add Moby Dick to list, considering all the moaning and groaning I've heard about it over the years, but all the copies I see at Amazon range from 600-800 pages. Not so bad after all.

Nov 30, 2007, 7:03pm Top

I'm surprised no one has mentioned Proust's Rememberance of Things Past yet.

Also, another book on the list that is divided into volumes is the lesser known The Pilgrimage by Dorothy M. Richardson. It's thirteen volumes in all.

Edited: Nov 30, 2007, 8:29pm Top

There's also Clarissa by Samuel Richardson, well over 1000 pages in my Penguin Classics edition, and The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, which is about 1500 pages in my Modern Library edition.

Dec 1, 2007, 3:38am Top

David Copperfield and The Last Chronicle of Barset are pretty weighty, at close to 1000 pages each.

Dec 1, 2007, 4:04am Top

I think The Once and Future King is a long one too...about 700-800 pages, right?
I have it, but not in front of me to see how many pages there are. I just recall it being thick. LOL

Dec 1, 2007, 6:28pm Top

Ulysses my copy is the same heft as War and Peace.

Les Miserables which has already been mentioned does scare me. I read War and Peace quite happily when I was 17 (enjoyed it) and when I had finished decided to tackle Les Mis next... well seven boring chapters in all about a priest, I discovered he wasn't even a main character - I gave up.

Dec 2, 2007, 5:28am Top

#8 Teeny-tiny little print,

Yes, it IS teeny-tiny print! I'm such a sucker for the used book store bargins. Wow, 696 to 1,456 pages? Maybe I should give this version to someone with younger eyes.

Dec 2, 2007, 6:36am Top

#8 - I've been looking for Taebaek Mountains and so far all I've been able to find are 8 volumes translated into French as LA CHAÎNE DES MONTS TAEBAEK and selling for 28.50 euros each (28.50 x 8 = 228 euros or 333.55 USD). Published by L'Harmattan if anyone can read French and has the money.

I've been all over Google and can't seem to find a trace of this book - was it ever really translated into English?

Dec 2, 2007, 7:21am Top

I'm still looking for Taebaek Sanmaek and I've found this from amazon.com in a review of another book:

Playing With Fire was awarded the prestigious Korean National Literature Prize upon its publication in 1982. Cho Chong-Rae's novella "Land of Exile" appeared in English translation in 1992. Cho subsequently published the immensely popular ten-volume historical novel The Taebaek Mountains (Taebaek Sanmaek), which sold millions in Korea in the late 1980s and was successfully adapted into a film. In the 1990s Cho continued his success with Arirang, another ten-volume roman fleuve set in the period of Japan's occupation of Korea.

Now, I notice two things

1. the author's name is translated as Cho Chong-Rae
2. It says the book sold millions in Korea...(it does not say world wide)

So, what if never was translated into English, must we all spend years learning Korean as well as finding time for the other 1001 books?

Edited: Dec 2, 2007, 8:15am Top

Yeah, on IMDb the name is listed as "Jeong-lae Cho".
I think whoever chose the book liked the movie and was too lazy to check whether it was even available in English. *walks off muttering about pretentious gits*


Sorry, forgot what I was saying, there. A Dance to the Music of Time is 12 books ("Movements") that are each around 700-750 pages.I can't remember whether the book refers to one particular volume or the whole series, though.

Dec 2, 2007, 1:20pm Top

#16: So, what if never was translated into English, must we all spend years learning Korean as well as finding time for the other 1001 books?

#17: I think whoever chose the book liked the movie and was too lazy to check whether it was even available in English. *walks off muttering about pretentious gits*


You two are hilarious! Thanks for the laugh.

The inclusion of this tome does seem like a serious flaw though, doesn't it! I wonder if there are any others.

Dec 2, 2007, 2:18pm Top

Kiwi--Les Miserables does get better after those chapters. I remember finishing it and feeling like starting it all over again right then.

Dec 2, 2007, 4:15pm Top

>15 aemilys:

Indeed, that Taebek mountains book is indeed available in French. But, I DO read in French but at 28 euro each with 8 volumes!?! I just can't do that. Oh well.

Although it is readily available in French.
(Most of the books from 1001 that can't be found in English I have found them easily in French.)

Dec 7, 2007, 7:08pm Top

I just bought Bleak House, by Charles Dickens. The story itself is 989 pages long, but with the preface, introduction, notes, appendix and various other attachments, it is over 1200 pages long.

Is this Dickens longest book, or does he have something even longer?

Dec 8, 2007, 1:14am Top

#19 I agree. I am reading Les Miserables right now and it is pretty good so far.

#13 Kiwi, establishing the background of the bishop Bienvenu is critical even though he isn't the protagonist; he is still one of the most important characters in the novel because of the *massive* moral effect he has on Jean Valjean. Without Bienvenu, Valjean would have just gone on being a miserable thief, blaming his evil actions on the world around him. Bienvenu's single act of unconditional kindness completely turns Valjean's world upside down and changes who he is at a very profound and deep level.

-- M1001

Dec 8, 2007, 1:31pm Top

I do have several of the "chunky" books waiting to be read:

- The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas (896 pages)
- Les Miserables (Vol. 1 & 2) - Victor Hugo (995 pages)
- East of Eden - John Steinbeck (666 pages)
- Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy (813 pages)
- The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingslover (543 pages) which looks miniscule next to those other ones, but it's a larger paperback, so I'm figuring if it were the same, smaller height and width dimensions as the others, you could probably add anything up to about 100 pages to the number

I've also read this year:
- Dracula - Bram Stoker (520 pages)
- The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins (502 pages)

My copies of both of these had quite small print, so I'm guessing I could add a few pages to them too. Although they're not quite as hefty as some of the others mentioned.

Dec 8, 2007, 5:30pm Top

Actually, thinking about it, Vanity Fair is pretty monster. My edition is just the text but has smaaaall writing for nearly 700 pages and I've found two editions on Amazon over 900 pages.

Dec 9, 2007, 7:18am Top

>21 Nickelini: Nickelini, I think Little Dorrit is 1024 pages including appendices, notes, etc. David Copperfield and Our Mutual Friend are both about 950 I think....

Jan 4, 2008, 1:15pm Top

#9 - I'm surprised no one has mentioned Proust's Rememberance of Things Past yet.

Linking to another thread here:

DLSmithies is reading Proust's tome and reports that the first six volumes are 3230 pages long. There is a seventh volume.

I just don't think it's fair to list this as one book.

Jan 4, 2008, 1:56pm Top

Nickelini, I agree. They should definitely split that up into 7 books like the publishers have. I mean, each volume has its own title. So, either it's important enough to warrant 7 slots out of 1001 or it's not. If and when I ever get to that, I know I will get bogged down by a feeling of lack of progress. That kind of feeling always slows my reading progress in general. However, I am sure DLSmithies is going to feel good about himself unconditionally for at least a week after finishing that.....I don't even know what to classify it as, surely you can't call that a novel.

Jan 4, 2008, 2:18pm Top

I just noticed that some of the Dostoevsky novels are also over 700 pages long . . . this includes The Devils, The Idiot, and The Brother's Karamoazov, but not Notes from the Underground, which is only 160-ish.

(touchstones still revolting)

Jan 4, 2008, 2:52pm Top

#27 - indeed I will! On the subject of breaking it up, I'm willing to stick up for the editors of the list. Even though it's in 7 volumes, each one picks up where the last broke of - it's a 4,000-page continuous narrative (so to speak). Even though each volume has a title, they were never intended to be read in isolation.
Judging broadly from the numbers of LTers who own each volume, it seems that many people only own volume 1, Swann's Way. I can totally understand that, since the whole thing's so weighty - but I imagine if you've only read the first volume you've only gained a really small insight into what Proust has to offer.
Just my two penn'eth!

Jan 4, 2008, 4:25pm Top

Cross-checked the list against Wikipedia's list of longest books (in order)

In Search of Lost Time - 1.5 million words
Clarissa - 969,000 words
A Dance to the Music of Time - over a million words
The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil
A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth - 591,522 words
War and Peace - 560,000 words
Les Miserables - 513,000 words

Jan 29, 2008, 10:32pm Top

For the people who have finished reading The Man Without Qualities or at least one of the volumes - is it worth it? It seems like the kind of book that could either be genius or pretentious waste of time. Also, I've heard that it's unfinished, was that really bothersome (if you've finished the whole thing)? It's been on my to-read list for a while now, but I wouldn't want to get started and involved in a book that has an unsatisfying unfinished end. I bought Wives and Daughters without knowing that it was unfinished, then fumed for days after reading it because there was an abrupt non-ending (and that was one where the plot was essentially complete).

Jan 29, 2008, 10:48pm Top

#31 I got caught with Wives and Daughters too. It's maddening when you buy the book, start to read it and then realise there's no ending. Once I reached the end I did calm down because as you say the plot was complete, and they all lived "happily ever after".

Edited: Feb 12, 2008, 10:52am Top

#17 A Dance to the Music of Time is 12 books ("Movements") that are each around 700-750 pages.I can't remember whether the book refers to one particular volume or the whole series, though.

I was just looking into A Dance to the Music of Time, by Anthony Powell. It seems to be published currently in four movements of three novels each. Each of these are between 700 & 800 pages, so the "book" is about 3000 pages, not 8400 pages. But yes, 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die lists the whole thing as one book. I'm not usually a fan of monster tomes, but this one sounds interesting and doable. Especially if you break it up over a long period of time.

Feb 12, 2008, 9:01pm Top

#31 and #32, if you are looking for closure after the abrupt non-ending of Wives and Daughters (which came as a shock to me too) I suggest you watch the lovely 1999 mini-series starring Justine Waddell. Andrew Davies wrote the screen adaptation, including a satisfying ending!

Feb 13, 2008, 1:52am Top

#33 I read A Dance to the Music of Time last year and it was my favourite read of 2007. I started out intending to break up the 12 volumes across the year but by the third or fourth book I was enjoying it so much that I read it straight through, and it didn't take that long. I agree that huge books can be daunting and be left on the shelf (Infinite Jest is staring at me as I write this), but this one is pure pleasure.

I recommend that new readers should also purchase a copy of Hilary Spurling's 'Invitation to the Dance'. It provides a full guide/index to the characters and references within the book, which is useful as there are around 100 characters who appear and disappear and reappear across the 12 volumes. If you don't have this book when you start, you will want it at some point!

Feb 14, 2008, 3:11am Top

#34 I've been trying to track that mini-series of Wives and Daughters down. I caught a few episodes on cable TV but wasn't able to view it all. Do you know if it's a BBC production?

Feb 14, 2008, 4:53am Top

Yes it is a BBC production and should be available from amazon.co.uk even if it's not available in your country.

Feb 14, 2008, 8:29am Top

#35, It is a BBC production. I live in the US and I got my copy from Amazon.com.

Feb 14, 2008, 9:01am Top

I don't mind the length of a good book - if it's any good I don't want it to end. As I get older I find it's the sheer weight I object to; I've got weak wrists and I mostly read lying down! Sacred Games has been delightful BUT I can't count how many times I just dropped the damn thing and lost my place, it's so hefty. Falling asleep with it on my face was almost fatal, I nearly suffocated.

Feb 14, 2008, 12:58pm Top

Trying on two very different sides of literature... Joyce's Ulysses is over 1200 pages (the edition I have at home, at least!). Stephen King's The Stand (the 'expanded' version) is nearly 1000 itself. More or less like Dumas' The Count of Montecristo. In fact, I don't mind if a book is veeeeery long! :)

Feb 14, 2008, 12:58pm Top

Trying on two very different sides of literature... Joyce's Ulysses is over 1200 pages (the edition I have at home, at least!). Stephen King's The Stand (the 'expanded' version) is nearly 1000 itself. More or less like Dumas' The Count of Montecristo. In fact, I don't mind if a book is veeeeery long! :)

Feb 15, 2008, 10:40am Top

Yeah, I wish that The Stand was on the 1001 list rather than The Shining. I think it's a better book.

Feb 15, 2008, 11:05am Top

In fact, it's my favourite among those of Stephen King, along with The Dead Zone too!

Feb 22, 2008, 9:17pm Top

I'm reading Tom Jones now and my copy is a healthy 721 pages.

Feb 23, 2008, 8:56am Top

I finished Middlemarch a few days ago. Not the longest, long book, but at 800 pages it's not shabby. I would highly recommend it. It is now one of my favorite books, and I even feel a bit lost now that I am not lugging it around.

Feb 23, 2008, 7:55pm Top

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Feb 24, 2008, 1:18pm Top


And only one of those that counts towards the 1001 List.

Feb 24, 2008, 4:58pm Top

I know it's been mentioned already, but I'm 300 pages into Don Quixote and it's a big 'un! I don't mind though, because I'm enjoying it so much. It's just that the rest of my TBR pile is looking at me and making me feeling guilty for spending so long with one book. And I've still got one more volume of Proust to go...

Feb 27, 2008, 12:58pm Top

The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann is only 700 pages, but the print is small, the dialogue is rich and the narration is richer. It is very much of its time and place - Europe before World War I. So for me, it is a LONG book.

Feb 27, 2008, 2:42pm Top

#49 - I'd second that. It took me two months to read The Magic Mountain.

Feb 29, 2008, 4:10am Top

A lot of Mann novels do take a long time to read - I generally find they're worth the time, though there are always those sections where I think maybe he's too smart for his own good (thinking of looong music theory digressions in Dr. Faustus)

Mar 7, 2008, 5:25am Top

I'm 700 pages in to Don Quixote - my edition is 940 pages in total. Not sure why I picked such a long book as my 'break book' before the last volume of Proust...

Mar 7, 2008, 7:01am Top

52: Not so much a break as more a very long holiday. :P

Mar 14, 2008, 8:57am Top

DLSmithies, that is certainly commendable. Bravo!

Mar 19, 2008, 8:50pm Top

I've stopped worrying about length because I've found it doesn't matter. For example, I zoomed through Les Miserables, and Doctor Faustus, on the other hand, is taking forever (not because I don't like it, I just find I need to take a breather after each chapter). I'll be curious to see how I get through War and Peace.

Mar 19, 2008, 8:53pm Top

#51 (Die Fledermaus): I missed your post before my post (#55) but I was glad to see this. I like the loooooooong music discusssions, but they do seem like digressions (although he keeps saying they are relevant to Adrian's change in behavior). I'm currently reading Doctor Faustus so I haven't finished it yet, but I'm surprised at how long it is taking me to do so.

Mar 21, 2008, 5:21am Top

I really enjoy Thomas Mann's novels, but they definitely require a lot of work. The Magic Mountain is similar in that it's very long, dense and full of digressions - a lot of philosophical debates between two of the characters. Buddenbrooks is more straightforward, but I didn't enjoy it as much as the other two (not that I didn't like it - it was just that I loved The Magic Mountain and Doctor Faustus).

Apr 3, 2008, 2:02pm Top

A Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil, 1130 pages ... i'm stuck somewhere between 200-300. promised myself it will be done by summer!

A Suitable Boy bored me after the 400th or so page...

except for those by Ayn Rand and Les Misérables, i find the rest too tedious and have never succeeded beyond the first chapters.

Oct 25, 2008, 11:03pm Top

I was happy to find Celestial Harmonies in the university bookstore at McGill yesterday, but disappointed to see that it is almost 900 pages long. I just couldn't fit it into my luggage to bring home.

Oct 26, 2008, 10:00am Top

Two weeks ago, I abandoned Doctor Faustus. I cannot tell you the last time I abandoned a book. It was debilitating to do so. However, Thomas Mann proved too much for me.

Jan 21, 2009, 11:46pm Top

Since we've been chatting about short books lately, I thought I'd check out this thread too. Balance is a healthy thing.

Anyway, I don't think anyone has yet mentioned Parade's End by Ford Maddox Ford. My edition is 836 pages long. If you're working off of the new list, don't worry about it, because I think they deleted it. I have to read it for a course I'm taking, so happily I'm working off the old list, where it still counts. Anyway, my prof has talked it up and it sounds great, but I'm completely daunted every time I pick it up. I've read lots of long books over the last few years, so I think the grim cover must be contributing to my reluctance to embrace this one.

Jan 22, 2009, 4:03am Top

Two long ones on the new list (both of which I'm reading at the moment...) are The Tale of Genji, which in my edition is close to 1200 pages, and Journey to the West, which is four volumes of at least 400 pages each. They're both great, but the latter especially is not a particularly quick read...

Jan 22, 2009, 8:17am Top

The Romance of the Three Kingdoms (also on the new list) is also pretty hefty. Mine came in two volumes, each about 700 pages. (And the print is really tiny too...)
It's pretty slow reading and reads almost like a Norse saga. (Lucky for me, I like Norse sagas.)

Mar 3, 2009, 5:14pm Top

Gravity's Rainbow, by Thomas Pynchon?

Mar 3, 2009, 10:46pm Top

The Name of the Rose - while my copy is only 500 pages which isn't that big the story is sooo plodding that it seems much longer... does that count? :-P

Mar 4, 2009, 10:06am Top

For me, a 500 page book is definitely long, but not really long. And like you say, it depends on the writing, doesn't it?

Mar 4, 2009, 12:02pm Top

Made me think about my internal definitions concerning book length. Of course, I've never really stopped to think about it before, but that's one thing I really like about this forum...

Short: under 200
Average 200 to 400
Somewhat long: 400 to 600
Absolutely long: 600 to 800
Daunting: over 800

Mar 4, 2009, 4:01pm Top

As a general rule, Perle, I would agree with you exactly. Of course there are exceptions, and it also depends on how dense the material is. I've often complained that Heart of Darkness is one of the longest books I've read, and my edition is only 65 pgs long.

Mar 10, 2009, 1:20am Top

My copy of The Brothers Karamazov is 1,045 pages long- worth every one though. :)

Mar 10, 2009, 4:07pm Top

I agree Nickelini! Heart of Darkness was like trudging through mud. Good mud.. but thick mud. Don Quixote is huge, too. I am about halfway through, and I had to take a break. My break has been for about two years now... whoops!

Mar 31, 2009, 3:42pm Top

I already mentioned Parade's End back in post #61, but now that I finished it, I just want to say that it was even longer than the 836 pages appeared to be! I could only manage to get through about 80 pages a week of this one--can you imagine how long it would take to read the 1001 list at only 80 pages a week?

Apr 17, 2010, 12:04pm Top

Good conversation.....I wanted to add in that I personally don't think abridged books count; if your going to read one of the world's longest works, don't cheat and just read the entire thing.

Apr 17, 2010, 3:37pm Top

Dance to the Music of Time may be a "long" book but really it read to me like a short book--I just loved it and found it really gripping. War and Peace was also a good read. On the other hand I found Proust a dreadful slog (possibly because I was reading it in French in college..) and although I actually read Clarissa when I was in highschool, I cannot imagine reading it now! Some of the other 20th-century monster books may be the Books I Save for Last from the 1001 list...

Apr 17, 2010, 4:28pm Top

I found it interesting when reading the 1001 Series webpage (http://www.1001beforeyoudie.com/), for Journey to the West (see Message 62), the book included on the 2008 list is actually Monkey: A Journey... which is the abridged version of Journey to the West. Read the long version if you like, but I'm in favor of abridged versions of really long books. I have gone back and read the full version (in full or in parts) when I really enjoyed a book. I do not consider reading summaries count as having read a book.

Apr 24, 2010, 12:44pm Top

To clarify my previous message, most of the books I read are the complete editions. Of the 420 books that I read from the combined lists, only about 4-5% were abridged versions. Most of these abridged books are audio books that I listen to in the car on the way to work and they were the only version I could get in an audio format. Finding a book from the list in audio format, even if it is abridged, is too tempting to pass over.

Edited: May 5, 2010, 9:39am Top

Has anybody read 2666? I bought it last weekend out of sympathy for the bookseller who had 5 copies rotting away on the shelves since January.

It has almost 1000 pages and I am not sure what to expect - a quick read like The Count of Monte Christo or something which will require several months but can be read in parallel to other books?

I've checked a few reviews already but they don't give much information about the best approach and many contain spoilers which I am trying to avoid.

May 29, 2010, 3:14pm Top

The Group Reads -- Literature Group did a group read of this book this Spring. I bought it and started it, but put it down. I think that I just did not read enough because of other group reads. I am still planning to read it. It was originally supposed to be published as 5 different books, I think. And I have heard that it gets quite violent towards the end. I have read some of The Count of Monte Cristo, also, and from what I have read of both, I would say that 2666 is more complex and not as easy of a read. But I am way behind on both books. :)

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