We’ve found 40 of the longest books on Earth for you to read this quarantine!
Now that we’ve got some extra time in our hands it would seem like the perfect opportunity to read until we drop. So without further ado here’s an extensively long list of some extensively long books to keep you entertained all through the quarantine!
1. 1Q84, Haruki Murakami
Set in Tokyo in 1984, Murakami’s dystopian novel follows the story of a woman called Aomame who begins to notice strange changes in the world around her and realizes she’s entered a parallel universe in the year 1q84. This wonderful novel full of romance, mystery and fantasy is a whopping 928 pages long.
2. 2666, Roberto Bolaño
Released in 2004 a year after the author’s death, Bolaño’s posthumous novel is 912 pages long. The mystery follows four literature professors with a joint passion for the work of Beno von Archimboldi, an enigmatic German author last seen in the city of Santa Teresa. Their admiration leads them to travel to Santa Teresa where they see themselves involved in an unsolved and ongoing case of murdered women.
3. A Dance to the Music of Time, Anthony Powell
Powell wrote this 12-volume cycle after being inspired by Nicolas Poussin’s painting of the same name. The storyline follows protagonist Nick Jenkins as he reminisces about his life and recalls the people he’s met throughout half a century, offering an often comic insight into English political, cultural and military life in the mid 20th century. Poussin’s painting was quite the inspiration for Powell who’s series is an astounding 3,024 pages-long!
4. A Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
So, A Hundred Years of Solitude is probably one of the shortest books in this list at 448 pages but it still deserves a spot on our list for being one of the most challenging books to read ever. Its intricate storyline following no less than seven generations of the Buendía family–more than half of which are named Aureliano–ought to keep you entertained for a very long time. Trying to keep track of the intricate and scandalous lives of the founders of Macondo is no mean feat!
5. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
This novel by Vikram Seth is one of the longest ones to ever be published in a single volume in the English language. The novel has 1,349 pages and 591,552 words! The novel follows the story of four Indian families throughout 18 months, centering on Mrs. Rupa Merha and her efforts to arrange a marriage for her 19-year-old daughter Lata.
6. Artamenes or The Grand Cyrus, Madeleine and Georges de Scudéry
Originally published in ten volumes back in the 17th century, this French romance takes the price for the “officially longest book on our list and probably in history as well.” this 13,095 page-long book is the longest French novel ever written and it took a total of five years to appear in its entirety. In fact, it was so long it was not published until after the 17th century. You can read an early English translation of this French classic here.
7. Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey Through Yugoslavia, Rebecca West
A brilliant piece of journalistic writing, this travel book gives an account of Balkan history and culture framed within Dame West’s six-week trip to Yugoslavia in 1937. If you’re stuck at home and are looking for a change of scenery, West’s work will whisk you away on a 1,181 page-long trip to 1930s Eastern Europe.
8. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
A total classic of the English literature, Dicken’s Bleak House couldn’t have been left out of our list. Following the case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce over a dwindling inheritance, the novel offers a satirical glimpse into the British judiciary and a very detailed one at that. Dickens’ novel is 960 pages long!
9. Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Brotherly love is a complicated thing and Dostoyevsky knew it well. It took him 840 pages to lay it out and explore it! Crime and Punishment might be the author’s darkest novel but this one isn’t too far behind. Follow three Russian brothers as they struggle to come to terms with God and grapple with issues of free will and morality in Dostoyevski’s last novel.
10. Canopus in Argos: Archives, Doris Lessing
If you’re a fan of science fiction then you should definitely give this series a go during the quarantine. In this series of five sci-fi novels, Noble-prize-winner Doris Lessing portrays the universe’s secret history through the stories of several extraterrestrial civilizations at different stages of their development. Its 1,288 pages make for a totally awesome sci-fi quarantine experience!
11. Clarissa, Samuel Richardson
This epistolary novel tells the tragic story of a young lady named Clarissa with newly-rich obsessive parents. Richardson’s masterpiece is one of the longest books written in English literature and judging by its 1,534-page count that should come as no surprise. It is also one of the greatest novels written in the history of British literature. So now that we’re at home and have extra time in our hands gives us the perfect opportunity to catch up on our long list of must-read classics by reading the longest one of all!
12. Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes
Labeled as the “first modern novel ever,” Cervante’s Don Quixote is considered one of the best literary works ever written. Set in some place of Castilla La Mancha, Spain of whose name no one can remember, the story follows the adventures of an elderly Spanish noble, Alonso Quixano, who reads so many romances he becomes deluded and decides to become a knight errant to prove chivalry isn’t dead yet. This classic of universal literature is 976 pages long and makes for an enthralling tale that will transport you all the way back to post-Medieval Spain.
13-5. Fall of Giants, Ken Follet
If there’s any contemporary writer who’s a master in making extra-long yet enthralling historic novels then that’s Ken Follet. So much so, he’s made it twice into our list (Check no. 33-4)! His trilogy following five families through the events of the Russian Revolution, both World War I and II, and the Cold War is an amazing way to get both your history buff and bookworm on. Start with Fall of Giants and continue with Winter of the World and Edge of Eternity and you’ve got yourself a whopping 3,049 pages of thrilling historic novels to keep you entertained well past the quarantine!
16. Finnegans Wake, James Joyce
James Joyce, one of the most difficult writers to read in the English language. Owing to its complex language and stream-of-consciousness style of writing, Finnegans Wake remains a largely unread work by the public. But since now we’ve got the time, it might be interesting giving this difficult book a go. It may be longer than most books on this list with only 628 pages but it will certainly keep you entertained for a long while maybe even more so than many other of these books!
17. Hopscotch, Julio Cortázar
Yet another novel below the 800-page mark (its only 576 pages) but that still totally deserves to be on our list. This classic of Latin American literature is a stream-of-consciousness novel that can be read in two different ways and has multiple endings. You can follow Horacio Olivera during his time in Paris either by reading the book like you would any other until you reach chapter 56 or you can read the anti-novel starting on chapter 73 and “hopscotching” your way through the book. How do you “hopscotch” your way through the book one may ask? Well, Cortázar handily provided a guide at the beginning of his novel to make the game a tad bit easier for us!
18. In Search Of Lost Time, Marcel Proust
The longest novel of all times par excellence. Although not as long a novel as that of his French literary predecessors, who wrote Artamenes, Proust’s In Search of Lost Time is considered to be the longest modern novel one can read. Oh and let’s also not forget it’s one of the best novels out there one can read as well. Travel back to the late 19th to early 20th century aristocratic France and follow the narrator as he recollects memories all the way from his childhood and into his adulthood.
19. Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace
Foster Wallace’s intricate novel is notorious for its unconventional narrative and its extensive use of endnotes. There’s a total of 388 endnotes sprawled across the book’s 1,079 pages, some even have footnotes of their own.
20. Jerusalem, Alan Moore
While it took a decade for Moore to write this fantastic novel it doesn’t mean it has to take you as long to read all of its 1,266 pages, although it surely will keep you entertained for a long while. Best described as a cross between a James Joyce novel and Moore’s Watchmen comics, this novel centers on an epic battle between light and darkness that will have you flipping through its pages non-stop.
21. Les Miseràbles, Victor Hugo
Besides being an absolutely blockbusting musical featuring gorgeous Hugh Jackman, at 1,900 pages in its original French (only 1,400 pages in English), Hugo’s Les Miseràbles is one of the longest novels to have ever been written. Follow the lives of convicts, young girls turned ladies of ill repute and ruthless scammers in this wonderfully dramatic story that will transport you to Paris’ convoluted past.
22. Life and Fate, Vasily Grossman
Often considered Grossman’s magnum opus, Life and Fate offers a glimpse into the front lines of battle of World War II, in which Grossman spent the better part of four years acting as a correspondent for the Soviet Military. Although often compared to War & Peace, Grossman’s novel is closer in style to a war journalism piece, offering a scalding critique of Stalinism. Life and Fate is 896 pages long.
23. Lord of the Rings, J. R.R. Tolkien
So technically this is a trilogy but this classic of the fantasy genre just could not be left out of our list. Wether you’ve seen the movies or read the books or not this saga is an excellent choice to keep all you fantasy lovers entertained well through the quarantine. Throw in the prequel to the saga, The Hobbit, and Tolkien’s guide to the all the lands of Eä including Middle Earth, The Silmarillion, for good measure and you’ve got yourself over 1,800 pages of excellent fantasy epics to get you through the lockdown!
Set in a fictional town of the English Midlands, Middlemarch follows the intertwined stories of four of the town’s residents while touching on issues such as the status of women, the nature of marriage, idealism, self-interest, religion, hypocrisy, political reform and education. The 880-page long novel has often been hailed as one of the greatest novels in English history. Perhaps another classic to add to your quarantine read list?
25. Neapolitan Novels, Elena Ferrante
The previously anonymous author of the series considers her four books about two female friends living in patriarchal and violent Naples to be a single novel, so we’re gonna go with that too. The wonderful cycle has a total of 1,682 pages.
26. Sacred Game, Vikram Chandra
20th-century social novels meet gangster thrillers in Chandra’s novel about organized crime in modern India. Follow inspector Sartaj Singh deep into the criminal world of Ganesh Gaitonde the most wanted criminal in India for an epic thriller that is as hard to put down as it is to pick up with its more than 900 pages!
27. Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts
Shantaram is 936 pages of thrilling chases and narrow escapes one after the other. Follow Roberts in his fictional escape from an Australian prison in Bombay and get lost in this incredibly fun and enthralling thriller!
28. Shogun, James Clavell
Set in 1600 feudal Japan Shogun follows the rise of a Japanese feudal lord or daimyō as seen through the eyes of an English sailor. Loosely based on the adventures of William Adams, the first English sailor to reach the coast of Japan, this 1,192-page long book is yet another excellent choice for historic novel lovers out there.
29. Sironia, Texas, Madison Cooper
With 1,731 pages, Sironia, Texas is one of the longest novels to be written in the English language. It took Cooper more than a decade to write this novel. The book describes life in the fictional town of Sironia in Texas and slightly satirizes upper-class southerners. The story is widely believed to be loosely based on Cooper’s home town of Waco, Texas.
30. The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Victor Hugo
Another excellent and extensive work by French author Hugo. For those of you who’ve seen the movie but have not read the book, let’s just say the book’s slightly darker than the cartoon movie. Still, totally worth the 940-page read!
31. The Man without Qualities, Robert Musil
Musil’s novel reflects the decadence of Viennese society around World War I and the fall of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Although 1,744 pages-long the modernist novel’s complex themes and ideas seem to slowly taper off and that’s because Musil never finished the novel.
32. The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco
Eco’s famous novel isn’t a particularly long book, it’s only 530 pages, but its intricate plot and heavy use of semiotics (that’s the study of symbols) will have you flipping back and forth between pages to make sure you got it. The book is so intricate there’s even a reading guide for it! But even so, I highly recommend trying your hand at this fantabulous mystery set in a medieval Italian monastery because it truly makes for an excellent and thrilling read!
33-4. The Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follet ( world without end)
Told you Follet would be making it twice into our list! This time its not the Great Wars but the great cathedrals. The Pillars of the Earth seller tells the story of the greatest Gothic cathedrals throughout Europe by focusing on life in 12th century Britain. I highly recommend pairing the best seller with its World Without End, which features the descendants of The Pillars‘ characters some 157 years later, for a total of 1,840 pages of excellent medieval novels.
35. The Power Broker, Robert A. Caro
If you enjoy biographies and a bit of journalistic writing then you should give Caro’s biography of Rober Moses, New York’s “master builder,” a try. This award-winning book traces the life and works of Moses all the way from his childhood in Connecticut to his days as a New York uber-bureaucrat. Caro’s biography of Moses has been named one of the best biographies of the 20th century and remains a highly influential book among city planners and politicians throughout the state. The Power Broker is 1,336 pages long.
36. To The Light House, Virginia Woolf
Probably the shortest book on our list but also probably the most difficult one to read of all. Like with many modernist novels like Ulysses and In Search of Lost Time the plot in Woolf’s novel is secondary to its philosophical introspection. Trying to keep up with the Ramsay family and their visits to the Scottish Isle of Skye while navigating through their thoughts and opinions may prove to be quite a challenging read that ought to keep busy well through the quarantine even if the book is only 224 pages long.
37. Ulysses, James Joyce
Yet another one of Joyce’s incredibly difficult masterpieces. If you’ve given Finnegan’s Wake a try why not give the story of Leopold Bloom a go as well?
38. Underworld, Don DeLillo
Hailed as one of the greatest novels to be written in the last 25 years, Underworld is DeLillo’s 827-page-long masterpiece. Simply put, the novel’s plot talks about the United States’ history during the second half of the 20th century. So if you’re looking to brush up on your modern American history with a bit of excellent storytelling then Underworld is definitely the long book for you.
39. War & Peace, Leo Tolstoy
In War & Peace, the Russian master offers a window into the intimate lives of Napoleonic-era Russians. Shifting the focus back and forth between the battlefield and the more intimate lives of those at home, Tolstoy gives a detailed, 360º view of the effects the Napoleonic wars had on all Russians, armies, aristocrats, men and women alike. Tolstoy’s masterpiece is worth reading until the last of its 1,296 pages!
40. Zettels Traum, Arno Schmidt
Schmidt began Zettles Traum or Bottom’s Dream as it’s known in English, while he translated the works of Edgar Allan Poe into German with the help of Hans Wollschläger. The gargantuan novel follows 25 hours in the life of Daniel Pagenstecher visiting translators Paul Jacobi, his wife Wilma and their young daughter Franziska. The novel’s 1,536 pages deal with issues of translating Poe’s work into German and exploring his themes, especially those dealing with sexuality.
Feature image: Nicole Wolf, Unsplash