Bookish Discussions

Chunkster books. Do you read them or avoid at all cost?

To some, Chunkster books are considered adult literature (fiction or non-fiction) that have 450 pages or more. (Large type starting at 525 pages). There are a number of chunkster reading challenges and groups online, if that’s your thing. Just do a search and you’ll find all sorts to choose from. But I personally feel that a “chunkster” is 500 pages or more. I read many books close to the 450 mark and don’t feel them to be overwhelming or too long. And that’s the hiccup, isn’t it? Does it only depend on page number? Should difficulty or written language play a part? We have all read shorter books, essays, short stories and even poems that felt like homework where more than once you were left scratching your head, putting the literature down and not wanting to pick it back up.

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday is “Top Ten Books I Am Not Sure I Want To Read”. There are very few books that I stay away from except maybe series books and New Adult. Series books are too much of a commitment unless I really like the first book. But lately I’m not even wanting to go there once I find out there is no resolution after book 1. And NA has burned me too many times to count.

source: Google

I really do like big books. Big, heavy, chunksters that could double as a paperweight. Ones that you wish were on your ereader because lugging it around is a hassle. I am not scared or shy away from them. Case in point: I LOVED East of Eden (601) Gone With The Wind (1,037) Jane Eyre (507)  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (496) and most recently, All The Light We Cannot See (544). But do I want to read them right now? I have sooooo many lovelies on my TBR list, ARCs I’ve received, books that friends have recommended and some required for my book club. These big beauties keep falling lower and lower on the list and maybe it’s because they are chunksters (page numbers are listed after the title and click on each cover for more info).

The Art of Fielding  The Book Thief

1 and 2.) These are both on my shelves and I just haven’t given them any love. The Art of Fielding (512) has been on my list waaaay too long and stop yelling at me about The Book Thief (552). I know!!

The Bone Clocks

3.) I want to read The Bone Clocks (608-some editions 640) by David Mitchell due out on September 2nd and then thought, “I should read one of his other books to get a feel for his writing. Let’s see…which one?  Cloud Atlas (509), The Thousand Autumns of  Jacob de Zoet (496), Ghostwritten (426)…I give up.

The Secret Keeper   The House at Riverton    The Distant Hours   The Forgotten Garden

4.) Any book by Kate Morton. This counts as one, by the way. I desperately want to read all of her books. I love the synopsis of each one and the reviews are pretty strong throughout. But which one should I start with? Here are my options: The Secret Keeper (496), The House at Riverton (496) The Distant Hours (562) and The Forgotten Garden (552). And just a little add-on, these were the number of pages that I found to be the least. They are longer in different formats!

Winter's Tale

5.) Another book I’ve wanted to read for some time. Winter’s Tale (768) by Mark Helprin came out in 1983 and while it wasn’t on my radar back then it has made a resurgence with the release of the movie adaptation. Do I go straight for the movie on this one?

The Goldfinch

6.) Pulitzer Prize winner (2014) for Fiction, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (771). I feel this chunkster (aside from The Book Thief) will trump all the others on this list. I just have this feeling that I will finally get to it and then wonder why I didn’t read it sooner.

The Luminaries

7.) I’m not so sure about The Luminaries (834) by Eleanor Catton. Again, another feeling. It won the Man Booker Prize (2013) and numerous others but the reception has been so divided that I’m just curious at this point to see where I will fall.


8.) Rory from Fourth Street Review worships Stephen King and gave me this rec when we met in NY for BEA. She did this wonderful post recently for SK virgins and for readers who think they won’t like his work. Not all horror, she says. I have only seen his books as movie adaptations, fearing that the books will take hold of my vivid and demented imagination and cause me to sleep with the lights on for weeks. Yes, I’m somewhat of a chicken. 11/22/63 comes in at a cool 849 pages. How about Bag of Bones (736), The Stand (823), Under The Dome (1,074)? Sorry, Rory, this chunkster will just have to wait. An it’s not because I’m a tiny bit scared…that I’ll love him too!

Anna Karenina

9.) Anna Karenina (838) by Leo Tolstoy. I will not see any movie version before I read this book. It’s been a challenge of mine for as long as I can remember.

Infinite Jest

10.) Infinite Jest (1,079) by David Foster Wallace. Just the description of this contemporary novel has always piqued my interest. It’s filled with a plethora of words that need to be defined, endnotes galore and a timeline to end all timelines. Then you have the sheer length of this gargantuan, that finishing it will feel like some type of feat alone. A tortured artist who ended his life at the young age of 46, this novel struck a chord with his fans. Over 80% of Goodreaders rated it 4 stars or higher. That’s pretty decent odds that it is worth it.

Do you read Chunkster Books?

Which ones are/were your favorites/a waste of time?

Have any on your TBR list that keep getting passed up?



29 thoughts on “Chunkster books. Do you read them or avoid at all cost?

  1. I read the occasional “clunkster,” but I prefer to avoid them. I often find that the books are unnecessarily long (with too many subplots or characters or too much description and not enough fast-paced action). When that happens, my mind starts to wander as I’m reading it!

    The only one I’ve read on this list is The Goldfinch, which I really liked. That said, I thought there were parts that could have been omitted.

  2. The Art of Fielding is amazing; I absolutely loved it. I highly recommend reading it soon. It’s a lot of dialogue and will read faster than you think. And come on, The Book Thief is amazing! 🙂
    I’m reading a near-500 pager right now, ‘Canada’ by Richard Ford. I like longer books; it gives a deeper story. My longest book was 898 pages, the Spanish translation of ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.’ It was so worth it.

    • CANADA’s first part is great. Its second part is good. Its third and last part is poor. But I met Richard Ford and liked him very much.

      • I’m still int he first part and really like it. His writing and story remind me of John Irving, who is my favorite author. I hope I’m not disappointed!

    • Wow, that’s amazing you read a Spanish translation of HP! I work at a library and get reminders all the time from staff who loved The Book Thief and Art of Fielding. I own both, so it’s just a matter of when!

  3. If a book has lots of good book reviews, I want to read it regardless of its length.

    Please do read 11/22/63. It’s a fantastic book, not creepy like other King novels. It’s so good, you will be sorry to see it end.

  4. I have quite a few of those on my TBR list also. The only one I have read is The Book Thief, which I think is a bit of a marmite book because it’s pretty sentimental, but I thought it was very good.

  5. I had to go straight to the movie with the Book Thief…I just couldn’t get past the first chapter…the Life of Pi was also another one where I had to see the movie and toss the book.

  6. I’ve never really thought about this before but I guess I do love chunksters, because the ones you’ve listed (The Goldfinch, 11/22/63, Anna Karenina, and The Book Thief) are some of my favorite books! I don’t recommend the Kate Morton books though, not because they’re long, but because I spent the entire 496 pages of The House at Riverton waiting for something to happen!

  7. I’m usually daunted by chunksters on the basis that they seem like a time-investment that I don’t usually have. Though, I will admit that most behemoth reads are usually pretty stellar as it has the time and substance to make for great reads. So I guess that means I’m pretty wishy-washy on the whole subject haha. I’ve seen praise for many of the books you’ve listed!

    Joey via. thoughts and afterthoughts

  8. I’m an impatient reader, so I generally avoid long books. Right now I’m reading a lot of scifi, which tend to run long, like 500 pages+. But sometimes I will come across a book I like so much I don’t want it to end. I think, for general fiction, my preferred sweet spot is about 300 pages, give or take.

    • Lately, I’ve been scanning the shelves at the library for shorter reads due to a lack of patience and time as well. That’s a terrible book prejudice, I know. I need to snap out of it! Maybe a chunkster is the fix I need! 🙂

  9. Right now I’m reading War and Peace, but I was too scared to look at the page count, but I’m sure it’s high! I’m just slowly making my way through the book with no specific deadline to finish it. I recently read Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and that’s over 800 pages which I thought would be no problem, but even though the story is amazing, I lost my momentum frequently after 600 pages and had to keep taking breaks.

    • Wow, that is impressive! I almost added War and Peace to this list but 10 was enough. I like your method of having no deadline. I think that is part of my problem. I requested too many ARCs and came home with a bunch from BEA so they are hanging over my head. I agree with Outlander as well…I read about half and then got fed up and lost momentum too.

  10. I definitely do get discouraged by really chunky looking books, although I know that if I’m into a book, I will hoover it up, regardless of length. But with shorter books I feel like I can read 3 books on my list in the same time it might take me to read one long one, so I feel like I can cover more ground with shorter books. Of those on your list, I only made it about 10% through Infinite Jest, it just didn’t do it for me, The Luminaries felt not worth the time it took. I’m also currently avoiding both The Bone Clocks & The Goldfinch. Having said that, Justin Cronin’s books come in at around 900 pages and I pick them up without hesitation. I guess when it boils down to it, a long book has to be super-gripping to hold my interest for the time it’s going to take me to complete it.

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