I know that lots of people are put off reading a book if it’s over 300 pages or so. I get it – if you see a book that looks like it could moonlight as a doorstep it can be daunting. However, if lockdown has taught me anything, it’s to appreciate a slower pace of life. In a world where we binge-watch series and are constantly plugged into everchanging news, a long book is a welcome reprieve. If you’re looking for something to sink your teeth into, then keeping reading to find out my selection of 5 long books that are worth the read.
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
We’re starting with a biggie. Shantaram is apparently based on the author’s life. After escaping from prison in Australia, Roberts’ winds up in the slums of Bombay. From there he starts up a health clinic and joins the mafia, falls in love and winds up back in prison again. He also stars in a Bollywood film and fights in Afghanistan. Too fantastical to believe? Maybe so, but this book is great fun. With a sweeping story, that’s full of interesting characters, adventure and excitement, you’ll be absorbed in no time.
The Luminaries by Eleanor Cotton
Set in 19th century New Zealand, The Luminaries begins when Walter Moody, who has arrived in the country looking to make his fortune in the goldfields, accidentally comes across a meeting of twelve men who have met to discuss a series of local unsolved crimes. Moody finds himself drawn into this web of mysteries and is compelled to resolve them. This book is rich in history and put simplest is an action-packed detective novel. It’s also extremely clever, with a very particular mathematical structure and an alignment to astrology. A really compelling read.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Theo Decker is only 13 years old when he survives an accident that kills his mother. He’s taken in by a family friend, where he struggles to settle in a new school and make new friends. The only thing he has to hold onto his old life and his mother is a painting from that fatal day. As an adult, through his job in an antique store, he enters the sphere of the rich, who fill their drawing-rooms with art and expose him to the murky underbelly of the art world. Full of danger, suspense and intrigue, The Goldfinch will break your heart, in the best of ways.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Not quite as long as some of the others on the list but at just shy of 500 pages, this is still a substantial read. Americanah is about Ifemelu and Obinze, a young couple from Nigeria who are in love and excited for their next adventures in the West. As the story develops we see as they both struggle to find their way in their new countries. Ifemeulu quickly starts to realise that in America, she must learn what it means to be black for the first time, whilst in London Obinze leads a dangerous and undocumented life. A story of love, acceptance, identity, race and culture change – this book is a wonder.
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
I thought I’d slip in a classic, see if you noticed. Vanity Fair, first published in 1847, is a great satire of British society at the time. Referred to as a novel “without a hero”, the book has two main characters – Becky Sharp, an orphan who depends on her ambition, wit and smarts to claw her way up through society, and Amelia Sedley, her privileged, kind and naive friend. The two women couldn’t be more different, and their lives unfold in surprising ways. This book is a fairly savage look at human nature and is full of flawed characters, but is written in a light and funny manner that keeps you reading.
P.s if you’ve seen the film, Reese Witherspoon’s Becky Sharp is much nicer than the real deal.