Does Size Matter?

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting a tad tired of a couple of the sidebar images here at Book, Line, and Sinker.  The cover of Stephen King’s weighty Under the Dome has been roosting in the coveted ‘Listening To” and ‘On My Kindle’ spots for weeks now; the next time I get the genius idea of borrowing a 30-CD audio book from the library, kindly remind me of this folly.

Coming in at 1,074 pages, Under the Dome is the  longest book I’ve ever listened to and one of the lengthiest I’ve read in quite a while.  Last year I reveled in all 1,048 delicious pages of Gone With the Wind, but it did take me almost a week to get through it.

I’ve heard of a few challenges that deal specifically with long books (chunksters, in the colloquial) but haven’t had the fortitude to sign up.  I’m not necessarily daunted by books in excess of 600 pages but find that my attention starts to wander if the books are too long.

My wandering eye gets me in trouble (with books, that is) and I’ll often pick up a shorter book and read it while still in the middle of a chunkster.  Heck, I sometimes cheat on short books too–I’ll read two or three books at the same time!

I can’t promise that Under the Dome will be disappearing from my sidebar anytime soon–I just started disc 11 today, 19 more to go–but I did read a great book review over at Write Meg! that I might just have to download onto my Kindle.

If you’re so inclined, I have a few questions about your take on longer books:

  • Do you avoid chunksters?
  • Do you have a personal ‘page limit’ or is that too restrictive for your reading habits?
  • What was the last chunkster you read?


  • At 2010.03.10 22:34, Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) said:

    I tend to read chunksters at the same time I read other books. I need to have something shorter to finish to make me feel like I’m making progress. Plus, I hate to carry giant books around with me so I need shorter to read too. Right now I’m in the middle of Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trails ’72 by Hunter S. Thompson, which is pretty darn long.
    .-= Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness)´s last blog ..Review: Hunger – An Unnatural History by Sharman Apt Russell =-.

    • At 2010.03.10 22:37, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

      A good chunkster can keep me engrossed and can just fly by, but a so-so one can drag on forever. I think the last chunkster I read was Roses by Leila Meacham – it’s 624 pages.

      • At 2010.03.10 23:07, Anastasia said:

        I do think I tend to pick up shorter books first, because I can get through them quickly and knock them off my TBR pile. Plus longer ones are heavier (even the paperbacks), which makes it tiresome to carry them around, like Kim said.

        But! I have read several chunksters on my ebook reader, and that wasn’t troublesome at all. It took longer to get through them than the shorter books, of course, but at least I didn’t have to worry about the weight!
        .-= Anastasia´s last blog ..Review: Vagabonding by Rolf Potts =-.

        • At 2010.03.10 23:12, Steph said:

          I don’t really have a page limit per se, but I do find that longer books are a greater challenge for me for exactly the same reasons you mention. I find it takes more time to read them and my attention and interest begins to wane and I wish I were reading something else. There are few books that I truly feel need to be as long as they are when they surpass 450 pages!

          I guess the book I’m reading right now is a chunkster at 495 pages – The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch.
          .-= Steph´s last blog ..Chicken Tikka Masala =-.

          • At 2010.03.11 00:25, Lisa said:

            Well, that answers that–I was thinking that I would never in a million years find the time to read Under the Dome but that, maybe, I could find time to listen to it. Then again–maybe not!
            .-= Lisa´s last blog ..James and the Giant Peach =-.

            • At 2010.03.11 01:46, Ti said:

              I read Under the Dome over Christmas break and it only took me a few days but that consisted of constant reading. LOL. Constant reader. Isn’t that how King refers to his fans? I imagine that listening to it would be a totally different experience.

              I actually prefer chunksters (when they are good!) I can really sink my teeth into them and settle in for awhile. Shorter books often leave me wanting more.

              I am about to pick-up Edgar Sawtelle which is on the chunkster side.
              .-= Ti´s last blog ..Review: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas =-.

              • At 2010.03.11 08:44, Terra said:

                I am not big into the chunksters…the biggest book I ever read was probably Harry Potter and I am not even sure that qualifies…I now prefer my Kindle and don’t even know how big the book is but some books are just too big to hold makeing reading nearly impossible.
                .-= Terra´s last blog ..It’d Be Nice =-.

                • At 2010.03.11 13:05, Southern Cousin said:

                  One of my favorite books ever — “Pillars of the Earth” by K. Follett came in at 973 pages. Nat, just to make you laugh. Ri came home from school yesterday with a scrap of paper with a book title on it. He wanted me to get it for him from the public library, as he had been perusing it at school and was 20+ pages into it. War and Peace by Tolstoy! Funny, right??

                  • At 2010.03.13 00:15, nat @book, line, and sinker said:

                    lol @ riley! i have to tell you that i swiped ‘pillars’ from my mom’s house after you told me about it, but since then it’s been languishing on my nightstand. i tried to read it one night but it was too heavy to hold. hahahah. i’ll get on it one of these days. xo

                  • At 2010.03.11 13:27, Hayden Tompkins said:

                    “borrowing a 30-CD audio book from the library”


                    I tend to read books in the 200-500 page range. Maybe that’s standard? At any rate, if the story is absorbing enough I have absolutely no problem sitting down for the long haul. I did it for each of those massive Harry Potter books because I didn’t want to leave the house or get online until I knew what happened.

                    I mean, what if someone told you how “Of Mice and Men” ended before you read it! Tragedy.

                    I find that it is easier for me to read a long novel if the writing is clean and free of a lot of literary embellishment. Otherwise I do start to find it wearing after a while.

                    • At 2010.03.11 14:16, Meg said:

                      Too funny! I’m totally with you, Nat. Chunksters definitely intimidate me, though I try to read “long” books when I have an extended period of time to get invested in them… like vacations, say. My “wandering eye” definitely gets me in trouble… I like to have at least two books going at once and start getting antsy if it’s taking me too long to finish one.

                      On an everyday basis? I tend to shy away from anything longer than 400 pages; I’d say that’s my “personal” page limit. There are exceptions, but not many! The last chunkster I read was probably Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, and I was so engrossed that the pages flew by. I have a couple chunksters on my bookcase now — including Andrea Levy’s Small Island — and I guess I should really quit putting them off!

                      And definitely pick up Almost Home — I really enjoyed it! So fast-paced and very entertaining. The mystery had me tearing through it like crazy. Can’t wait for the sequel to that one!
                      .-= Meg´s last blog ..Book review: ‘The Next Thing On My List’ by Jill Smolinski =-.

                      • At 2010.03.11 18:10, Shari said:

                        I love big books, in fact I don’t bother with short stories because, well, they’re too short. I love getting completely invovled in a big book that goes on and on. My last chunkster, was The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo by Stieg Larson at just over 850 pages. I will read other books in between but generally for a book to even be worth my while it has to be over 300 pages. Go here to see my review of The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo

                        • At 2010.03.11 19:26, Jennifer said:

                          Great discussion topic. I find that I don’t necessarily avoid books because of their size, but it can be a deterrent. I’m a college student and getting a few short or medium sized books in can be difficult in between essay writing and assigned reading. Still, I love to take on challenges and sometimes the long daunting books can offer really great stories and when deciding what to read – that’s definitely most important to me. But I know what you mean about getting distracted. I happens all the time for me.
                          .-= Jennifer´s last blog ..Review: The Turn of the Screw by Henry James =-.

                          • At 2010.03.11 20:38, bybee said:

                            I’m reading a Chunkster right now…a biography of Virginia Woolf by Hermione Lee. 944 pages. It’s a really great biography, but also really dense. I’m also reading other (shorter) works at the same time.
                            .-= bybee´s last blog ..Blogiversary =-.

                            • At 2010.03.12 09:14, Kathy said:

                              I love this topic. I prefer to read GOOD books that are at least 400 pages long. I know 400 isn’t really a “chunkster”, but many novels have much less and I feel like the book is over as soon as it starts. I like getting lost in the story and when it is longer, For a while I wouldn’t even put a book on my wishlist if it wasn’t at least that long. Also, I was reading most of my books on the kindle, and for (at the time) $9.99, I could get a 250 page book or a 450 page book. It made more sense to go for the longer ones. Plus on the ereaders, longer books just seem to go faster. I am planning to download Roses for my Kindle soon.
                              But now with ARCs and book swapping, I have let down my lenth requirements some. If it sounds good, has good reviews, or is written by a good author, I will try it.

                              • At 2010.03.12 18:04, trish said:

                                I don’t shy away from chunksters, nor do I seek them out. Ultimately I’m looking for a FANTASTIC read, no matter the page limit. I thought Gone With the Wind was excellent! I recently read The Passage (comes out in June), and at 700+ pages, frankly I was surprised when I was halfway through! It felt like I’d hardly read any of it yet, it was that engaging.
                                .-= trish´s last blog ..Peeing My Pants With Book Anticipation – THE QUEEN OF PALMYRA – March 12, 2010 =-.

                                • At 2010.03.12 23:34, Jenners said:

                                  I don’t avoid them but I do try to read them on my Kindle so my arms and hands don’t hurt. And they better be worth my time!!!
                                  .-= Jenners´s last blog ..Giveaway: "A Dirty Job" by Christopher Moore =-.

                                  • At 2010.03.13 01:20, softdrink said:

                                    I don’t avoid chunksters…I consider them just like any other book. It’s just that some of them need a good editing. 😀
                                    .-= softdrink´s last blog ..World Party Reading Challenge =-.

                                    • At 2010.03.13 10:26, Jess - A Book Hoarder said:

                                      I have Under the Dome on my shelf to read in the near future. It is going to be my first Stephen King as well as my first “official” chunkster. Since I joined the Chunkster Reading Challenge this year I’m hoping this is going to be the year that I fall in love with huge books and it opens up a whole new world to me…or it could backfire and I’ll never make it to War and Peace. It’s just so intimidating.

                                      • At 2010.03.13 13:43, Sheila (Bookjourney) said:

                                        I do not avoid them, but with all the reading I have going on over here I admit that they may stay on the book shelf a bit longer than smaller reads.

                                        I am trying to think of the last really big book that I read and sadly, it must have been awhile because I keep thinking of the Harry Potter books and of course I have gone big since then.

                                        Wolf Hall awaits me! 🙂
                                        .-= Sheila (Bookjourney)´s last blog ..Morning Meanderings… =-.

                                        • At 2010.03.13 18:12, Jeanne said:

                                          I’ve always sought out the biggest books in the fiction section, originally because when I was a kid, the public library only allowed me to take out ten at a time, and now because I tend to like longer works. Maybe it was that early training.
                                          .-= Jeanne´s last blog ..Trivial Pursuit for Book-Lovers =-.

                                          • At 2010.03.14 01:11, veronica said:

                                            I’ll read the occasional chunkster, but most of what I read tends to be between 350-500. My main problem with chunksters is not the length of the book because I’ll get bored with the story, but actually the physical size of the book. For some reason whenever I get a really long book from the library it always comes in hardback and honestly I just can’t hold that big of a book for that long or I’ll start getting really weird cramps in my wrists. I never realized I was quite so wimpy until the day I quit reading a book because holding it hurt too much.
                                            .-= veronica´s last blog ..Niccolo Rising – Dorothy Dunnett =-.

                                            • At 2010.03.15 00:43, Jenni said:

                                              Read Pillars a couple of weeks back and LOVED it! Looking forward to reading the sequel. It is on the shelf, but have to read a few smaller books in between Just finished The Mermaid Chair. 😀

                                              • At 2010.03.15 18:34, trek said:

                                                It really depends for me. I probably won’t bring home a huge tome by an author totally unknown to me but will go the distance with an author I love.

                                                Also, I like to read while I walk and read while I knit (put the book on a cookbook rack) so if a book is enormously long, it is tiring to carry in front of me and difficult to impossible to prop it on my rack.

                                                On a side note, I have friends who are trying to get published and the agents to whom they have submitted suggested cutting their offering into two volumes immediately because most publishers don’t want to take that much of a chance on newbies.
                                                .-= trek´s last blog ..In which trek reviews     Pride and Prejudice and Zombies:     Dawn of the Dreadfuls =-.

                                                • At 2010.03.16 16:57, Beth F said:

                                                  I don’t shy away from looooong books but I have to be fairly sure I’m going to like it before committing a big chunk of time. King is not my style, so I’ll be passing on it.
                                                  .-= Beth F´s last blog ..Review: Taroko Gorge by Jacob Ritari =-.

                                                  • At 2010.03.16 17:02, Kari said:

                                                    I definitely enjoy chunksters…if it’s one that hooks me. Normally, I don’t give up on books I’ve started but that rule doesn’t apply to chunksters. 100 pages in and it’s boring, I’m not gonna dedicate the time for another 500+ pages. The last one I read was My Paper Chase, a memoir by Harold Evans. It was pretty good.
                                                    .-= Kari´s last blog ..Review: A Roman Holiday =-.

                                                    (Required, will not be published)

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