A month ago, we highlighted 15 superstar story collections. Now, it's time to move in the opposite direction. Here are 15 doorstop novels we love, in a variety of genres. We're defining "doorstop" loosely as a long book that will keep you occupied for a long time (without losing your attention!)—maybe even the duration of your entire vacation.
What are your favorite hefty novels? Let us know in the comments!
11/23/63 by Stephen King (849 pages)
The buzz on Stephen King’s 11/22/63 is that it’s about a man who goes back in time to save JFK. It’s true; that is the mission undertaken by King’s hero, 35-year-old high school teacher Jake Epping. But to a careful reader, it quickly becomes clear that this is actually a novel about falling in love: first with a time period, and then with an awkward, tall librarian named Sadie. Read more>>
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach (528 pages)
You don’t have to like baseball to savor Chad Harbach’s sumptuous debut novel, a wise and tender story of love and friendship, ambition and the cruelty of dashed dreams, featuring an appealing cast of characters.
Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith (439 pages)
Leo Demidov's personal hell has truly been paved with the best of intentions. The Soviet war hero and rising star within Stalin's State Security force has ordered the execution of thousands of his countrymen, or worse, dispatched them to the infamous gulags, all in service to the greater good of communism. Read more>>
The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt (688 pages)
The heft of A.S. Byatt’s latest work, The Children’s Book, promises a detailed, sprawling story. But the actual scope of this ambitious novel has to be experienced to be believed. The story of an age more than anything else, it encompasses 25 years (1895-1919) and has at least that many main characters, which leaves the reader wondering how they can all come to such vivid life in just 700 pages. Read more>>
Fall of Giants by Ken Follett (985 pages)
To complete his hugely ambitious trilogy of historical novels about the 20th century, Ken Follett has set himself a punishing writing schedule. Lucky for us. Because readers who compulsively turn all 985 pages of Fall of Giants, the gripping first book in the Century Trilogy, will not want to wait long for its sequel. Read more>>
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (944 pages)
A scan through reviews of Japanese writer Haruki Murakami’s work repeatedly yields such words as “surreal” and “alienation”—and these are certainly apt markers for his much-anticipated new novel, 1Q84. Originally published as a trilogy in Japan, where the first volume sold more than a million copies in just two months, this dystopian epic weighs in at more than 900 pages and required the services of two translators to speed the process of getting it into the hands of his many English-speaking fans. Read more>>
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (782 pages)
What kind of magic can make a nearly 800-page novel seem too short? Whatever it is, debut author Susanna Clarke is possessed by it, and her astonished readers will surely hope she never recovers. Her epic history of an alternative, magical England is so beautifully realized that not one of the many enchantments Clarke chronicles in the book could ever be as potent or as quickening as her own magnificent narrative. Read more>>
The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall
Golden Richards is in a bad way. He has four wives but is flirting with another woman. He has 28 children but can’t stop thinking about the accidental death of his handicapped daughter, Glory. His floundering construction company has taken a job remodeling a brothel, though he tells everyone at church he’s working on a senior center. And he is trying desperately to remove chewing gum from a place where no gum should ever get stuck. Read more>>
Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes (640 pages)
First-time author Karl Marlantes tackles some tough subjects—racism among the troops, for one—in his Vietnam novel, Matterhorn.What makes this novel so irresistible is Marlantes’ skill at peeling away the many layers of truth in combat. Read more>>
The Passage by Justin Cronin (784 pages)
The vampire craze sweeping literature is not unlike the virus that decimates the world in Justin Cronin’s The Passage. Sure, there are isolated enclaves of holdouts, defending literature as they know it from the onslaught of supernatural beings, but most of the reading public seems to have developed an insatiable thirst for stories featuring the undead, from writers like Charlaine Harris and Stephenie Meyer. A note to those who thought they were immune: I dare you to crack open The Passage and read page one. Read more>>
Roses by Leila Meacham (640 pages)
Roses traces nearly 70 years in the history of the Toliver family, owners of a cotton plantation in a fictional Texas town. When patriarch Vernon Toliver dies, he entrusts the land to his daughter, Mary, because he knows she will love and care for it. His wife and son are outraged. That decision and the stubborn love that motivated it determine the course of Mary Toliver’s life. Read more>>
Skippy Dies by Paul Murray (672 pages)
Does anyone really ever get over adolescence? Maybe some, but even if you're one of the lucky ones, reading Paul Murray's new novel will bring all the roiling, churning madness of being a teenager right back into focus. The book claws into you right away, and its vividness never fades—impressive, considering it's nearly 700 pages long. Read more>>
South of Broad by Pat Conroy (528 pages)
Pat Conroy’s lush, remarkable South of Broad is set in Charleston, South Carolina, and spans some 20 years from the late 1960s to the 1980s. Following a memoir (My Losing Season) and a homespun recipe collection (The Pat Conroy Cookbook), South of Broad is Conroy’s first novel in 14 years. And lucky for us, it’s another big, sprawling, heartbreaking novel, sure to please seasoned Conroy fans and new readers alike. Read more>>
West of Here by Jonathan Evison (496 pages)
Set in fictional Port Bonita, on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state, West of Here is no less than epic. The narrative covers a timeline that is split between the late 1800s and the early 2000s, two periods that are united by the sublime power of the wilderness that surrounds the novel’s characters. Read more>>
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (560 pages)
Hilary Mantel sets a new standard for historical fiction with Wolf Hall, a riveting portrait of Thomas Cromwell, chief advisor to King Henry VIII and a significant political figure in Tudor England. Mantel’s crystalline style, piercing eye and interest in, shall we say, the darker side of human nature, together with a real respect for historical accuracy, make this novel an engrossing, enveloping read. Read more>>
Do you have any books to add to the list? We'd love to hear about them!
Ken Follett's Fall of Giants was one of the biggest books of 2010—in fact, our readers voted it as #5 on their Best Books of 2010 list. Book one in a hugely ambitious trilogy of historical novels about the 20th century, it takes readers through World War I, the Russian Revolution and the struggle for women’s suffrage. It'll also keep you busy for a while, clocking in at 985 pages.
Now we're just four months away from the publication of Winter of the World, book two in The Century Trilogy. It comes out on September 18 and is 960 pages.
[The five families] enter a time of enormous social, political, and economic turmoil, beginning with the rise of the Third Reich, through the Spanish Civil War and the great dramas of World War II, up to the explosions of the American and Soviet atomic bombs.
By the way, if you were discouraged from reading Fall of Giants by the high price (the hardcover is $36 and the paperback is $25) or long hold lists at the library, you'll be happy to hear that a mass market paperback edition hits bookstores on September 4. It will retail for $9.99.
Reader name: Kammie
Hometown: Wayland, NY
Favorite genres: gothic, historical fiction, thrillers, suspense
Favorite authors: Joyce Carol Oates, John Jakes, Greg Isles, Patricia Cornwell, Gregory Maguire
Favorite books: the Wicked series, the North and South series, the Scarpetta Series, Black Water
Here are BookPage's suggestions for Kammie's next great read . . .
For a Gothic suspense novel, you can't go wrong with The Ghost Writer by John Harwood. This atmospheric psychological suspense tale is about a man who is haunted by the past and discovers the chilling truth about his mother's secret. Turn-of-the-century horror stories are interwoven into the plot.
In Drood, Dan Simmons imagines the events that inspired Charles Dickens' unfinished final work, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Simmons excels at classic science fiction, horror, fantasy, mystery and historical fiction, and Drood could be rightly categorized as a detective story, a bloody horror novel and historical fiction. It's also a brick of a book, at nearly 800 pages.
If readers are into epic sagas à la John Jakes' North and South trilogy, they can't go wrong with Ken Follett's new Century Trilogy, starting with Fall of Giants, which came out nearly a year ago. (The paperback goes on sale on August 30.) The trilogy is about the intertwined fates of five families—American, English, German, Russian and Welsh—throughout the 20th century. Fall of Giants takes readers through World War I, the Russian Revolution and the struggle for women’s suffrage.
What books do you think Kammie should read, based on her list of favorites?
Put your name in the hat for your own book fortune by sending an e-mail to bookfortunes (at) bookpage (dot) com.
We've reported on Ken Follett's Century Trilogy throughout the past year—from the book deal in Frankfurt to the release of the cover. Now, believe it or not, we are approaching the pub date of book 1: Fall of Giants. The 985-page, $36 novel comes out one week from today.
The trilogy is about the intertwined fates of five families—American, English, German, Russian and Welsh—throughout the 20th century. Fall of Giants takes readers through World War I, the Russian Revolution and the struggle for women's suffrage.
BookPage contributor Alden Mudge interviewed Follett for the September issue of BookPage. You can read the full interview on BookPage.com next week, but here's a little preview:
My mantra while writing Fall of Giants was ‘they don’t want a history lesson.’ So I had to find ways in which all of these developments were part of the lives of characters in the story.
What book trailers are you buzzing about today?
Related in BookPage: a Q&A with Follett about World Without End, the sequel to Pillars of the Earth
The eight-hour miniseries of Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth starts tonight on Starz at 10 p.m. EST, and you can also now download Penguin's nifty "Amplified Edition" of the novel for your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. Buy it for $12.99 through the App Store.
Here's a video explaining what to expect from the amplified edition, which includes video footage blended into the eBook, an interactive character tree, Follett's "multimedia diary" and more:
Will you be watching The Pillars of the Earth on TV tonight, or downloading the amplified edition? Is contextual video an exciting advantage of eBooks, or does it distract from the text?
Digression: I am admittedly old school when it comes to reading, and here I can't help but think of Newbery winner Laura Amy Schlitz's comment to me in March about why her students enjoy reading: they say, "I like it when I make the pictures up in my head. I like to see the pictures in my head." Is some of that participation lost when you're being fed video of what the characters look like?
In other Follett news, are you excited about the author's newest book, the 1,000-page Fall of Giants, out Sept. 28? (When we posted about the book back in April, some of you were turned off by the $36 price tag.)
Way back in October, we posted about Fall of Giants, the first in Ken Follett's Century Trilogy, which sold for big bucks at the Frankfurt Book Fair. The novel is still set for a worldwide, one-day laydown on September 28, 2010.
At 1,000 pages, this is another big book for Follett fans. And the price tag of $36 is almost as hefty. Though we know retailers will probably be discounting this one, how much for a hardcover is too much? Would you pay $36 for a new release from your favorite author?
Related in BookPage: a Q&A with Follett about World Without End, the sequel to Pillars of the Earth