I have a soft spot in my heart for tomes. Big, meaty books a thousand pages long. It’s even better if that first thick volume is followed by several others. I like the marathon. I like settling in with a cast of characters and getting cozy. I like all the odd nooks and crannies a story can wind itself into when there’s no rush, we’re a hundred thousand words from the finish yet.
We don’t learn to read fiction like this. I can’t remember being assigned a single book over 400 pages in grade school English, and we never even considered anything in a series worthy of note. Big books are textbooks, and they’re punishment. That two-inch-thick spine just intimidates some people. But it’s always beckoned to me. There isn’t just a story within those widely-spaced covers, but a whole world.
Sure, they take longer. The stakes are higher. If the book doesn’t ultimately satisfy, more time has been wasted. You can’t read a book a week if you dig into The Pillars of the Earth or Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Reading Lord of the Rings will take even longer than watching it. But what does a book stand for if not for a leisurely pace?
In this culture of click-bait and instant, viral gratification, it’s so important to slow down every once in a while. You know that already, that’s why you’re here. So sit back, relax, turn off the screen for a little while, and grab yourself a nice, long book. You know you want to.
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*Ordinarily I write about writing, specifically about speculative fiction, with reviews of books and movies thrown in as I see fit. But I’m mixing it up to write about reading for this post and the next. It’s an odd shift in focus from the act of creation to the act of consumption, but it’s a fun exercise. And hey, maybe Book Riot will like it.