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What’s the Longest Book You Ever Read?

Yes, I’m still reading The Space Opera Renaissance, the massive Tor anthology edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer. I’m enjoying the heck out of it but I have to admit, the sheer size of the thing is playing games with my sense of progress.

This hardback clocks in at 944 pages. But not just any 944 pages. No, these pages have some sort of patented smaller-than-average Tiny-Type which means, all things being equal, it’s longer than most books of the same size. I do not know the word count – and I would love to know that and the average word count for the average book – but as a guess, I’d say this is the word-count equivalent of 3 or 4 “standard-length” books.

The good news with respect to closure is that I’m almost done. But this has to be the longest book I’ve ever read. I usually average about a book a week. I’ve been reading TSOR for over 5 weeks now. (To be fair, though, I have sneaked in two other quick-read books in the interim.)

What’s the lengthiest book you’ve ever read? Hubbard’s Battlefield Earth? Stephenson’s Quicksilver? War & Peace? No fair counting omnibuses!

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

18 Comments on What’s the Longest Book You Ever Read?

  1. joshua corning // September 12, 2006 at 3:21 am //

    I am a light weight…Shogun would be about right…that is if only fiction is considered…..

    Battlefield earth is one book?

  2. The HC version of Peter F Hamilton’s The Naked God, 1184 pages.

    Second place is probably the last of Tad Williams’ Otherland novels, at 1072 pages.

  3. War and Peace, several times. 590K words.

    Tad Williams, To Green Angel Tower, several times. 520K words.

    Peter Hamilton, Night’s Dawn Trilogy, each volume, three times. ~420K words.

    Neal Stephenson, Baroque Cycle, each volume, twice. ~380K words.

    Dostoyevsky, Brothers K, twice. 360K words.


  4. Yeah, Night’s Dawn.

    The Signet edition of Atlas Shrugged from the 60s was over 1000 pages in paperback.

    I also have a big-ass leatherbound copy of The Rubyiat that comes in at well over a thousand pages, but a full third of those are illustrations.

  5. Jeff Carroll // September 12, 2006 at 7:37 am //

    In Search of Lost Time, over 4000 pages, was the longest.

    Infinite Jest at 1078 with footnotes felt like the longest.

  6. stephen king’s the stand….1154pg uncut version…in 3 nights as a part-time night-turn car-lot security guard not doing his job during college years ago….

    does lord of the rings count?

    wolfe’s book of the long sun….short sun?

    the wheel of time series?

    anyways…lots of long books/series.

  7. Does my entire collection of Dr. Strange comics dating from forty years ago count as one book? If not, WAR AND PEACE, a book so good that it grips the imagination even in translation. At times, he characters are so vivid that they seem more real that my real friends–though whether this is a reflection on Tolstoy’s writing, on my friends, or on me, I leave for wiser heads to debate.

  8. IIRC, Tolkien did intent LotR to be one volume, so that should count. Did Stephenson intend The Baroque Cycle to be considered as one “book”? If so, Quicksilver would actually be Quicksilver + The Confusion + The System of the World = One Really Big Doorstop (and yes, I’ve read it).

    Hamilton’s books were split for US publication, I think the only US hardcovers were SFBC? They were pretty big puppies in their UK editions.

    Heh. Is Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” to be considered one book? Gack.


  9. The Stand by Stephen King, or if you count Otherland by Tad Williams as one book instead of four…;-)

  10. Sometimes a tale is so long that the publisher divides it into separate books for the sake of simple practicality. (My paperback Shogun fell apart the third or fourth time I read it. My Rise and Fall of the Third Reich broke in half before I finished it once; it was a tedious tome, anyway). Lord of the Rings is really just one yarn, not three. Robin Hobb’s single tale about FitzChivalry Farseer is published as nine books, but it’s really just one. And it’s too short. Likewise, George RR Martin’s story, pitting the Lannisters against the Starks, with the Viserys heir waiting to pick up the pieces, and John Snow leading a force too small to stop the undead at the Wall…is several books long and nowhere near complete yet. (A Game of Thrones, etc.)

    Get back to work, Mr. Martin! :-@ and you too, Ms. Lindholm!;-)

  11. Not SF, but my wife started reading “Le Miserables” sometime in January 2006. She finally finished when we were on vacation. She says she’ll kill me if I ever buy her a book of that length again (I have, in the past, also bought her “Don Quixote”!)


  12. Hamilton-Pandora’s star 500 pages too many.

    I forgot how long Atlas Shrugged was-it was so great.

  13. Either Moby Dick, War and Peace or Cryptonomicon, hefty books all, in volume of pages and in volume of ideas…

  14. The UK edition of Mary Gentle’s “Ash: A Secret History” is a one volume doorstop of around 1100 pages. In the US it was split in 4 separate books. Excellent novel.

  15. Longest book I ever read is probably Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Loooong, but still one of my favorites.

  16. Not SF but the longest book I’ve ever read was Terry Goodkind’s “Stone of tears” from the Swoard of Truth series.It clocked in at 979 pages.


  17. Stephen King’s The Stand Uncut version aroud 1200 Pages

  18. Does reading the current issues of Maxim, Stuff, and FHM in one sitting count? 😛

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