I am currently reading A Storm of Swords, the third book in George R.R. Martin’s "A Song of Ice and Fire" series. Each book in his epic fantasy series is long. Goodreads tells me A Storm of Swords has 1,177 pages (I’m reading on my kindle and it didn’t give me page numbers for this book). That’s a ginormous book. I’ve been reading the book for over a week and I’m only halfway through the book.
As I read this book as an author, I keep thinking about the length of the book. How many pages is too much for a book?
I know the "Song of Ice and Fire" books are long. Even though I enjoy the series, I find it challenging for me to start the next in the series because of its length. Therefore, I usually start reading when I have an excess of free time–maybe I’m on vacation at the beach or the time off between Christmas and New Year’s. I didn’t do that with A Storm of Swords.
I am on a pretty regular schedule, maybe even a bit busier than normal with finishing up edits for my novel, picking up more hours at work, and setting up workshops. I don’t expect to finish A Storm of Swords until the end of April. Since I enjoy the series, I suppose it’s fine, albeit a bit disheartening to slowly watch the percentage read tick by on my kindle. In a way that bums me out, I like being able to read many books in a month, and I’m not sure if that makes me an odd or normal reader.
Because I read a good amount of young adult literature, most books I read are between 250-350 pages. I can bust through a book that size in 3-5 days. The page count jumps to 400 or 500 pages if I pick up adult genre fiction–crime, historical fiction, or literary fiction. I don’t mind a 500 page book if I am engaged in the book.
When the page count hits 700, I start to grow weary. A few months ago, I read The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Once again, I read this book on my kindle and it didn’t have number of pages. (I can’t tell you why some kindle books do and don’t). When I picked it up, I had no idea it was 700 pages long. I think the book took a week and a half for me to read. I didn’t like the book either and I felt it could have been trimmed to a more reasonable page count. (Maybe 500 pages). When I finished, I was disappointed with the time invested in the book. In retrospect, I would rather have read two great YA books instead of one long book I didn’t enjoy.
For me, I think 700 pages is my magic number. When a book hits that size, the book better be worth the time invested. I’m less willing to take chances on a new author or series with a book length that size.