Question #758: What is the longest book you’ve ever read?
In 2011, I checked out the book Les Miserables from our local library in Northern Virginia, not realizing it’s one of the longest novels in history. I mean, clearly, it’s a big book with 513,000 words on 2,783 pages. But since I enjoyed the musical so much, and knew the plot, I figured it was something I could easily follow and read during my bath time soaks.
I was wrong. Even though I twice extended my check-out time with the library, keeping the book for more than a month, I didn’t finish it.
I just couldn’t get caught up in the story enough to want to continue. Apparently, Victor Hugo didn’t want his publishers to change his story, and limited the edits made to it. Obviously, this didn’t hurt the book’s success when it was published in 1862, but for my 21st century sensibilities, it was a bit much.
On the other hand, I’ve read the book Gone with the Wind cover-to-cover multiple times. With 419, 218 words on 1,037 pages, it is definitely the longest I’ve ever read and finished. I first read it while I was still in high school, somehow fitting the heavy hardcover in my book bag with all my school books, reading it during lunch, or peeking at a few pages when things were slow at my after-school job.
The movie is one of my favorites, but I’ve read the book more often than I’ve seen the movie. As a teenager, I was swept up by the story of sassy Scarlett O’Hara, and the hedonistic Rhett Butler amused by her.
As I got older, though, I understood more its racism, historical revisionism and glorification of the antebellum South, and inaccurate depictions of that era. It is, as I’ve heard many times over the years, a complicated classic.
And I will probably read it again.