I’ve always proudly said that I’ve always preferred paranormal and fantasy books over contemporaries. I loved getting swept away by the magic, the alternate universes, and the sheer creativity of them. My favorite books/series of all time are usually rooted in the fantasy genres (ACOTAR, Harry Potter, etc.) but I’ve noticed a rather disturbing trend- the older, and busier, I get, the more I reach for contemporary novels. I think this has less to do with the genre itself but rather with the fact that those epic fantasy tales are always so. damn. long. I used to breeze through a 700 page book in a couple of days, no problem. Now, when I work an average of 50 hours a week (not counting commute time), I’ve found that I purposely put off reading fantasy novels because I often don’t have the energy to commit to the sheer length of them. I know when opening up a 700+ page tome I’m going to have to read it in disjointed bits and pieces (usually before bed, when I’m already super tired) and the thought of keeping up with everything that’s going on is, quite frankly, exhausting. I decided to take a look at my reading stats from 2017 show far to see if they backed up my recent feelings of reluctance to pick up my once favorite genre.
As you can see, I’ve only read 3 books so far this year that cross the 500 page mark. While 301-500 pages is a huge range, it’s also a range that’s VERY common for YA contemporary. Yet at the same time, if I’m already reading a 350-400 page contemporary novel, two of those books are often MORE pages combined than one fantasy novel…so in some ways reading a large fantasy novel shouldn’t really impact my reading speed, right? Yet something about reading ONE BOOK that is that long seems to exhausting to me lately. I wanted to get caught up with Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices books this summer since I’ve owned Lady Midnight since it’s release day, but it’s basically taken me a month to read each book, even though I’m enjoying them (although let’s be real- these new Shadowhunter books are WAY longer than they used to be! And also very tiring to hold up above your head in bed for an extended period of time).
You can also see there’s been a HUGE decline in my actual reading of genres outside of contemporary. They’re literally over half of the books I’ve read so far this year, and it really disappoints me to see how under-read I am in the other categories. However, I think I’ve been gravitating toward contemporary the past few years because they are often quicker reads and don’t take as much effort to engage with, even when they are about heavier topics, because they don’t have new universes/worlds to understand and learn. I hate that I come off sounding almost like a lazy reader in that way, however I also always find myself wanting to save non-contemporary books for when I’m more alert/awake/energized so I can focus on them and invest in them, which isn’t something I’ve had a ton of time to do lately with work/adulting/etc.
I’m wondering if I’m the only one out there who gravitates more toward contemporary as an adult because they fit better into my schedule, and not necessarily because it’s my favorite genre? Do you find yourself exhausted at the thought of starting a 500+ page book? Do you save longer books for certain times of the year or certain times of your life? What dictates what type of book you want to commit to? Is there a book on your TBR you desperately want to read but just can’t seem to commit to for whatever reason? Let’s chat about it in the comments!
I suppose I’ve gone through something similar. I just started reading ‘Anna Karenina’, which I’d been putting off for years because I was more than a little worried about committing to such a long book. But I’m thoroughly enjoying it now. Before starting ‘Anna Karenina’, I read two really short novels/novellas, and I didn’t enjoy those quite as much (perhaps they were too short?)
Also, I completely understand about contemporary novels being easier to engage with, despite being about “heavier topics”. Well said!
Good for you- I definitely stay away from classic books because they are so long/daunting! Have you finished Anna Karenina yet? I think I sometimes psych myself out of reading books I’d actually really enjoy!
I’m actually still in the middle of reading Anna Karenina! It doesn’t feel like I’ve been reading it for almost three months… I mean, I’m kind of surprised I’m still keeping track of the names and happenings in the book considering how long I’ve stretched this out for, and considering how many intertwining storylines there are. It is a really good book though. I’d recommend giving it a go if you haven’t already
THIS IS ME. Fantasy and historical fiction are my favorite genres, but contemporaries have comprised most of what I’ve read this year for all the reasons you mentioned. And, when I do pick up a longer book, I always get frustrated at myself that it’s taking so long for me to read it compared to the rate at which I normally finish books. I think I’ve read seven 500+ page books out of the 90 books I’ve read so far this year, which is pretty sad.
I mean, 7 500+ pages books sounds pretty impressive to me!! I think I just get frustrated overall with not reading as fast as a lot of other bloggers seem too, and that always feels so much more apparent when I read longer books (like it took me about 2 weeks to read Lady Midnight and another 2 weeks to read Lord of Shadows, and I just hit points when it felt like I was NEVER going to finish them). But I also have to take into account that my reading opportunities are usually brief and sporadic throughout the week and I rarely am able to read in long sessions, which probably definitely accounts for why it feels like it takes forever for me to read longer books lately.
I FEEL THIS SO MUCH RN. I’ve been trying to get to 10 books this month and I’m reading a 500 page book right now, so I keep stopping progress and reading other shorter ones (mostly contemporaries) in between. I feel like reading huge books just messes with my momentum for the month! I keep thinking I could be reading other books to make better use of my “reading time” and actually progress. Man, that Goodreads goal is killing me haha.
YAS I feel that way about books too! I think I tend to dive into longer books toward the end of the year too because I’ve generally already hit my Goodreads goal by November/December so I don’t feel “guilty” taking the time to settle down with a huge book and worry I’m not hitting a certain amount of books per month.
My new postpartum habit is reading long books almost exclusively as audiobooks. I recently finished Man in the Iron Mask as an audiobook…but only after putting off reading a hard copy for 6 months. >.<
When I'm busy, it can be such a mental hurdle to start a hefty book that if I don't go the audio route, I run the risk of passing it up entirely.
I’m so glad to hear that audiobooks work for you- I’ve honestly tried so many and I can’t seem to get the hang of them! However, it seems like a good way to chip away at an exceptionally long book, especially if its one that has a physical size that seems exhausting/intimidating just to look at!
I don’t mind, and rather enjoy, longer books. Even though it takes more time to finish them I’m not that worried about it. I would rather spend a lot of time on a book I’m going to love than a lot of time on several books I didn’t care for that much. I have a goodreads goal for this year, but since I’ve already bumped it up twice I really won’t stress out if I don’t make it because I chose to read some longer books.
I wish I had this mentality! I feel like it’s the way I SHOULD feel but there’s always so much self-imposed pressure to read and review and keep up with all of the new releases. However, I hit my Goodreads goal earlier this month so I feel like in some ways the pressure is off!
I used to finish your average eBook (~250 pages) in 3 days and now I find it’s taking me 4-5 days with work. I read before I go to bed and I’m so tired now that I can only fit in a chapter or two before I need to sleep.
I’m SO GLAD I read ACOWAR as an eBook because I would have had major arm cramps reading the hardcover in bed. But with longer books like this, I find I automatically spread out my reading. When I saw the page count for ACOWAR (I think it was ~600 pages eBook wise which is HUGE), I knew it was going to take me over a week. And so I made an effort to read a set amount of pages a day but read something else as well. This is the only time I double up (besides audiobook for commute and physical book for everyday reading) because I’d get too overwhelmed and bored otherwise.
YES I love reading a shorter book at the same time as reading a longer book, as it really breaks up the reading experience and ALSO makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something too. It’s so hard to get through a longer book working full time too, I am right there with you and primarily read right before bed during the week, and I’m always so exhausted that I generally only get through a few pages before I fall asleep!
Great discussion post! I haven’t been reading as many 500+ page books this year either because it takes awhile. I tried reading the second book in The Diviners series and while it was good, I had to DNF it because it was just too long. I didn’t run into that issue reading The Lady Midnight series though haha because I’m a huge Shadowhunters fan. If anything, I was glad those books were so long. But yes, I think I do save certain books until I have time to commit to them. It’s summer break for me right now which might also be why I’m not as hesitant to tackle longer books.
I want to read the Diviners series soooo badly, but I remember I picked up the first one and I couldn’t get past the dialogue because it was so of the times and felt too quirky for me to read without getting annoyed. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the Lady Midnight series! Honestly the Shadowhunters books always FLY by for me (I think because they’re urban fantasy instead of high fantasy).
I have such a hard time with long books. I think it kind of ties in to the fact that I have a hard time with series; I just can’t commit to worlds/characters for that long, even when i truly love them. I still read mostly fantasy/historical fiction the most, but I’ll pick up a short contemporary whenever I’m in a reading slump because they’re just easier to read.
Thank you, Lena! I feel like the past few years I have definitely trended toward stand alone books too (they tend to be shorter and contemporaries) but I miss the feeling of reading a multi book series and really getting to know the characters and get invested in their stories!
I definitely understand what you are saying. Recently, I have had trouble picking up any book, especially longer ones. Like you, fantasy has always been my favorite genre. I love their complexity and characters and magic, but not the larger page count. Sigh. The paradox for me is that fantasy books are the best way to get me out of a slump. Entering a new fantasy world always manages to knock me out of a reading slump. Unfortunately, it is terribly difficult for me to convince my literature starved brain that picking up a 500+ book is a good idea.
Even as I am typing this, ACOWAR is sitting on my bookshelf, mocking me and my laziness. I really want to finish the series, but there are just sooooo many pages. I think the trick to reading larger books is just like ripping off a Band-Aid, do it quickly and without a lot of thought. I cannot dwell on the number of pages (most of the time I even avoid looking to see how many pages there actually are). If I don’t think about it, I cannot really stress about the length of the book too much.
You bring up some great points! Lately I’ve had some luck reading longer books on my Kindle, since I can’t get psyched out by the size (even if I know a book is like 700 pages, it just feels so much more manageable on my Kindle screen!) I read ACOWAR on my Kindle (mostly because I wanted access to it the second it was available to download) thinking I would switch to the hard copy when it arrived in the mail a few days later, but I ended up just finishing it on my Kindle since I feel like I had gained so much momentum. I hope you get a chance to pick it up soon!
ME TOO! I read during my commute a lot, and I don’t have an e-reader, so I’m less inclined to pick up a big book these days. I don’t want to haul a 500+ page book around all day. That is mainly why I haven’t picked up Afterworld and The Diviners even though they’ve been sitting on my shelf for two years now. I did finish an 800+ page book this year though! Even if it took me six months to get through it haha.
Congrats! 800 pages is MASSIVE! I just finished up a nearly 700 page book and I could only read it in short bursts because it was so darn heavy hahaha! I’ve been wanting to pick up the Diviners series too! I just never have enough time to finish it before I have to return it to the library!
Oh man I relate to this! Awesome post. I used to read such LONG books before I found YA twitter and before I started blogging… I read much less in general but the books were longer. And now my TBR is so out of control it seems better to get a bunch of smaller books out of the way. Plus the whole being an adult and finding energy/time thing… it’s hard for me to concentrate when my eyes are tired so fantasy and adult fiction (including my fave historical fiction) sometimes gets pushed aside for contemporary or shorter fantasy. I’ve been wanting to read the 8th Outlander book but I’m so out of practice it seems daunting! I read the first 7 in about six months for comparison haha. Ironically once I get hooked, I read super fast. It’s just the getting started part…
YES to so much of this! Especially to the eyes being tired/being low on energy thing…I’ve been working a LOT lately and it makes me so less likely to want to blog/read because I’ve been staring at a computer screen for 12+ hours a day (funny how that never seemed to be a problem in college when I was on the computer all the time, lol). The getting started part is SO STRESSFUL. Honestly my favorite thing is to be in the middle of a book or series because I know exactly what’s ahead of me on my TBR!
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I’ve been putting off so many classics and long books because of this. I don’t think I had this big of a problem until I started seeing everyone reading like 10+ books a month but I’m trying to read the bigger books now. It’s not going very well so unfortunately I don’t have any tips… maybe start one during a readathon?
Yes it’s insane how many books a month bloggers can crank out (and I’m over here thrilled if I get through 6 lol). I feel like once I hit my Goodreads goal I might feel “caught up” enough to start tackling some of the longer books on my TBR.
I made my Goodreads goal wayyy under what I wanted so that I could do some bigger books but that’s just made me slack off on reading moreso than normal. 🙁 I try to get at least 5 books read. I really like having the long list for my wrap-ups though!
[…] in my never ending TBR pile, usually being passed over for shorter books because at 500+ pages, it was a book I was frankly scared to commit too. However, after many months of insistence from my bf who read and loved it, and after recently […]