I like big books and I cannot lie…but there are certain big books I continue to subconsciously avoid because putting in the time and mental energy it takes to read them always seems too daunting. Once in a while (i.e. every couple of years or so), I work up enough determination to tackle one really long book and it feels amazing.
My last major big book accomplishment was Parade’s End by Ford Madox Ford (968 pages), which I read in 2015. As a nice bonus, it turned out to be one of my favorite classics and an incredibly thought-provoking read.
In the spirit of lighthearted public self-shaming, here is a list of some of the most intimidating classics I keep putting off. Some of them I really do want to read, even if I procrastinate a lot, others I may well avoid forever.
1. Les Misérables | 1480 Pages
This one is particularly bad because not only have I not read the book, I haven’t even seen the musical. I KNOW. I have listened to a few of the songs, though, so that’s something, right? When I do finally get around to reading the book, I will probably break into song.
GIFs via GIPHY
2. War and Peace | 1296 Pages
Two-and-a-half years ago I took the first step and bought my own copy of War and Peace. I want to read it but I think I need to put on some muscle before I attempt to lift that behemoth. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.
3. Atlas Shrugged | 1200 Pages
I feel like I need to read this book to better understand what exactly goes on in the heads of certain Republican lawmakers. I’m interested in the philosophies that have shaped modern politics and it seems like Rand is an important piece of that convoluted puzzle. I don’t know if I’ll find the time to read it this year but I will probably prioritize it over all the other books on this list simply because I think it’s relevant to the current state of affairs.
4. The Lord of the Rings | 1178 Pages
I have been a huge Tolkien fan for most of my life but for some reason, I never got around to reading The Lord of the Rings. I think it may be because I have a tendency to not read a book if I’ve already seen the film adaptation. I know the books are very different from the movies but evidently, that hasn’t been enough to get me off my lazy bum and actually read them. One of these days I need to have myself a good reread of The Hobbit, read LOTR, and rewatch all six films. It’s been ages since I last watched the LOTR movies, so I’m due for that as well. It’ll be fun when I finally emerge from the review stack I seem to be perpetually buried in!
5. Ulysses | 1136 Pages
Ah, Ulysses, that beast of Irish literature. I’ve always been extremely ambivalent about modernist literature but after my very positive experience reading Parade’s End (which is basically one long stream of consciousness), I am slightly more open to the idea that I might actually enjoy something akin to Ulysses. Still, I’m not quite ready to dip my toes in yet. Until then, I’ll just use it as a stepstool when I need to reach something.
6. Don Quixote | 976 Pages
I don’t actually know that much about Don Quixote except that it’s translated from Spanish, full of adventure, and essential reading if you want to be considered “well-read.” Since being “well-read” in the traditional sense has never been high on my list of priorities, I probably won’t read it for many years to come. There are just too many other books that are higher on my TBR list.The 10 Most Intimidating Books I Still Haven't ReadClick To Tweet
7. Gone with the Wind | 960 Pages
If there’s one book on this list I probably won’t read, it’s Gone with the Wind. The movie–which is laced with racism, sexism, and features two main characters who I strongly dislike–put me off of ever engaging with the story on a deeper level. Still, I do sometimes think, “I should read this just so I can bash it in a blog post.” Might be fun if I’m ever bored enough to pursue it.
8. The Brothers Karamazov | 824 Pages
I’ve been wanting to dive into Dostoevsky for a few years–The Brothers Karamazov, Crime and Punishment, Notes from the Underground, etc. Aside from his status as a classic author, my main interest is in his theology. Dostoevsky was, by all accounts, a fairly orthodox Christian and I’m curious to see how that bled into his fiction.
9. Moby Dick | 752 Pages
What I love about Moby Dick is that it’s based on a true story that originated in Nantucket. As a native Massachusettsonian (they really need to come up with an actual dictionary word for that), I am interested in any literature featuring my home state. I also have a thing for man vs. nature epics, so I will definitely read this one sooner or later…when I’m ready for it.
10. The Woman in White | 720 Pages
The only thing better than a good mystery is a good mystery shrouded in the fog and shadows of Victorian London. The Woman in White and The Lord of the Rings are the only two books on this list I want to read purely for pleasure. When I can carve out the time, I think this will be a really fun read.
Which really long books do you keep blowing off?