What do Gone With the Wind and War and Peace have in common (besides being about war and peace)? Both are BIG books. I’ve never been one to read short stories, and not until recently did I realize the reason why. Short stories are just that, short. There is no time for the reader to become entrenched in the plot, the characters, the setting. A big book allows the reader to become intimately familiar with the characters, which is what I enjoy the most, especially when they are intriguing personalities.
What do I not like about big books? I don’t like too many long, descriptive passages, and plots that don’t go anywhere. I am currently reading the eighth volume in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. I am a HUGE fan of these big books (all between 500-1000 pages each). But while I am faithful to the series, some of the entries are better than others. The current read is one of the better ones. Gabaldon is a very good writer who can immerse the reader in the world she has created. The characters, especially the protagonist, Claire Fraser, are compelling, and readers want to revisit them again and again. Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, the latest in the series, is an easy, entertaining read with the signature intriguing characters and settings. However, the plot is lacking (granted, I’m only halfway through the book, but in 400+ pages, the plot should have stepped up by now). There is a series of episodes, but there is little suspense because the main story (there is a side plot that is more interesting) is not building to a big reveal. I stick with it because I’m a fan, but ordinarily I expect more of a plot from big books. But I can understand why this sort of big book has appeal. Readers get to live with beloved characters for 800+ pages, and reside in a world that can seem as real, in the hands of a good author, as the one outside our doors.
Big books I hope to read someday: Moby Dick and Don Quixote.