Kristen Otte

Finding Love and Laughter through Story

How Many Pages is too Much for a Book?

13 Comments

I am currently reading A Storm of Swords, the third book in George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series. Each book in his epic fantasy series is long. Goodreads tells me A Storm of Swords has 1,177 pages (I’m reading on my kindle and it didn’t give me page numbers for this book). That’s a ginormous book. I’ve been reading the book for over a week and I’m only halfway through the book.

As I read this book as an author, I keep thinking about the length of the book. How many pages is too much for a book?

I know the “Song of Ice and Fire” books are long. Even though I enjoy the series, I find it challenging for me to start the next in the series because of its length. Therefore, I usually start reading when I have an excess of free time–maybe I’m on vacation at the beach or the time off between Christmas and New Year’s. I didn’t do that with A Storm of Swords.

I am on a pretty regular schedule, maybe even a bit busier than normal with finishing up edits for my novel, picking up more hours at work, and setting up workshops. I don’t expect to finish A Storm of Swords until the end of April. Since I enjoy the series, I suppose it’s fine, albeit a bit disheartening to slowly watch the percentage read tick by on my kindle. In a way that bums me out, I like being able to read many books in a month, and I’m not sure if that makes me an odd or normal reader.

Because I read a good amount of young adult literature, most books I read are between 250-350 pages. I can bust through a book that size in 3-5 days. The page count jumps to 400 or 500 pages if I pick up adult genre fiction–crime, historical fiction, or literary fiction. I don’t mind a 500 page book if I am engaged in the book.

When the page count hits 700, I start to grow weary. A few months ago, I read The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Once again, I read this book on my kindle and it didn’t have number of pages. (I can’t tell you why some kindle books do and don’t). When I picked it up, I had no idea it was 700 pages long. I think the book took a week and a half for me to read. I didn’t like the book either and I felt it could have been trimmed to a more reasonable page count. (Maybe 500 pages). When I finished, I was disappointed with the time invested in the book. In retrospect, I would rather have read two great YA books instead of one long book I didn’t enjoy.

For me, I think 700 pages is my magic number. When a book hits that size, the book better be worth the time invested. I’m less willing to take chances on a new author or series with a book length that size.

How many pages is too many for you?  What are some great books over 700 pages in length?

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13 thoughts on “How Many Pages is too Much for a Book?

  1. I wonder if the increasing prevalence of the ebook will influence story length. A physical book has incentives to be small: less expense in paper, binding, shipping; more convenient to carry, hold, and read. Is freedom from these pressures a good thing or bad thing for authors and audiences?

    On the one side: Infinite space means freedom for authors / editors to respond to other factors, such as audience attention span and a story’s structural scope. On the other hand, space limitations can necessitate a more critical editing process and concise story structure. Though artificial, I suspect this is good for the story in many cases. I’m up to date on Mr. Martin’s series, and he certainly could have used a stronger editor in my humble opinion.

    I guess this already plays out in newspaper/magazine articles vs web articles. Web freedom for crisp long-form journalism = awesome. Long-form blogging = not so much.

    • No offense to current blog, lol. I was thinking of the Live Journal style navel-gazing blog which I indulged in years ago, embarrassing as it is to admit.

  2. Pingback: April 2014 Book Reviews | Kristen Otte

  3. I’m usually not a fan of giant books, either, mostly because the plot doesn’t move forward as much as I would like. I like some good character development, but 300 pages of that in a 600-700 page book is overkill for me. A Storm of Swords wasn’t so bad because I felt like things were really moving. I was really into the story and immersed in the world, so it went by fast. Now the book after it was a different story– I actually stopped reading half-way through, read some other books, then picked it back up to finish it. It just dragged on way too much for me.

    • I am enjoying A Storm of Swords–there is plenty of action to keep me reading despite the length. Thanks for the heads up on the next book. It will have to be a beach read or something along those lines.

  4. I’d like to say that it doesn’t matter and the number of pages should just be as long as the story needs to be, but I am like you and feel a bit burnt out if a book goes over a certain number. Usually about 500, I do like fast progress when I read 😀

  5. A great story that is well written can’t be too long for me. That said, those have been few and far between, and I’m like you: I’d rather read two shorter books I really enjoy (and wishw were longer) than one long book that leaves me feeling like I wasted my time.

  6. 700 is a lot for me, unless it’s some kind of anthology. Even Steinbeck’s East of Eden comes short of the 700-page mark. I guess I question the author’s ability when a book gets that long:
    “Do you really have that MUCH to say? Will it really take this LONG? That’s just my thought, though.

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