What’s your preferred length of book?

08/01/2017 Discussions, Reading 49

What's your preferred length of book?Recently I was thinking about some of my favourite books and series, and I suddenly realised that most of them are really, really long books! Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for example is my favourite HP book, and that clocks up to an epic 766 pages! Similarly The Lord of the Rings is several thousands of pages long collectively, George R.R. Martin’s books are generally 800+ pages, and Brandon Sanderson’s first two Stormlight Archive books are 1124 and 1088 pages respectively.

So I think it may be fair to say that’s I like big books (and I cannot lie…sorry, that was a terrible pun!)! Partly I think it’s an inevitability, seen as I adore fantasy, and it tends to be the genre most likely to make a weighty doorstop, but I also think I just prefer long stories in general. It can take me quite a while to get into a story and truly absorb myself in the world and get to know all the characters, so I don’t want to find myself finally getting into a book and then it being all over. Especially when I find a book or series I truly love, I want to spend as much time within it’s pages as possible, so the longer the better!

However, there are probably some bookworms out there who are horrified by the sight of some enormous tome, and prefer much shorter, snappier reads, and I can definitely see the advantages. Sometimes spending too long in a particular world can get boring and sap the magic, especially for people who like variety, so short books offer the opportunity to dip in and out of many stories and many worlds.

Technically, the length of the book should be irrelevant when choosing books, but similarly to the way it’s hard not to judge by the cover, I think it’s hard not to factor in the length of a book when deciding whether or not to read it. If long books put you off, the plot is going to have to sound really intriguing to convince you to take on the commitment of so much more of your time. Similarly, if you can pay £7.99 for a skinny little book of 300 odd pages, or the same for a book of 800, it feels more like you’re getting value for money if you buy the larger one.

So I’d love to know: what’s your preferred length of book? Do you have one? Or is the length irrelevant as far as you’re concerned?

49 Responses to “What’s your preferred length of book?”

  1. Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight

    I think I am actually the complete opposite! I find myself getting so bored with long books. A handful of my favorites are long, but I’d say the average is 350-400. That’s my sweet zone I guess 😂 And it definitely makes me decide what to read- I sometimes feel weary at the thought of starting a long book, but eager at the promise of a short one. Great topic!!

    • Laura

      It definitely is a personal preference thing. I do love long books, but there definitely is a risk of me getting bored too if I end up not liking the characters or the story.
      I’m glad know your book length sweet zone anyway! 🙂

  2. Danielle Eskdale

    This is an interesting topic and I have to commend that pun too, by the way, it made me laugh haha.
    I agree with everything you’ve said, although I don’t think I personally have a favorite length in particular. Bigger books can be slightly daunting to begin with, but if it’s a good book and you get into it the pages often whizz by super fast anyway.
    I actually have a couple of books that look relatively thin, though the book is actually quite long due to the size of the font!

    xo

    • Laura

      Thank you for commending my terrible pun! I did have a little giggle to myself when I wrote it, if I’m honest! 🙂
      I definitely agree that bigger books can be daunting, and I especially find that when it’s the first in a series because you don’t know yet what you’re in for and if you’ll like it (and there’s nothing worse than committing to reading a really long book only to find you hate it or it’s super boring!).
      I have found that too though with books with different font sizes – you can’t always tell how long a book is merely by the pages! I have seen books too that are huge but have a really big font, so they aren’t actually that long in terms of word count.
      Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  3. tea & time turner

    I like shorter books, around 300-400 pages, because I don’t have a lot of time I can dedicate to reading. With 300 pages, I can generally read a book in a week, which is perfect for me!

    I used to be able to read bigger books faster, but I’ve been struggling a lot with American Gods…

    • Laura

      300-400 pages is a nice length for a quick read. If you don’t have a lot of time to read I guess a longer book would drag on for ages!
      I started reading American Gods myself a while back, but for some reason never finished it (and I don’t often not finish book!). I wasn’t that I didn’t like it, I just couldn’t seem to get into it for some reason.

  4. Abigail

    Yesterday I was browsing books on the library catalogue and almost decided against borrowing one (although the description was intriguing) because it was ‘only’ 200 pages….

    So yeah, I definitely lean towards bigger books. I agree with you: it can take a while to get into a world (in the case of fantasy) or time period (I love historical fiction!) and shorter books don’t always have that depth.

    Although finishing a bigger book you’ve been reading for weeks can be like re-emerging from some dark cave and being all disorientated and missing the characters. Or is that just me?!

    • Laura

      Yeah, really short books (less than 250 pages) kind of put me off. I always wonder if it’s even worth reading them if they’re going to be so brief (which i guess is pretty stupid really, seen as I like to read short stories every now and then and they’re even shorter!).
      I think that’s one of the main reasons I prefer bigger books too – I feel like it’s hard to get the same depths with a shorter one.
      And I totally get what you mean! That happens to me all the time when I’ve been reading a really long book that I’ve enjoyed. The Stormlight Archive books definitely felt like that, and I found myself really missing the world and characters!

  5. Lory @ Emerald City Book Review

    I’m like you — if there’s a book I truly love, I want to spend as much time within its world as possible. So bring on the chunksters!

    However, I also love a good short novel that doesn’t demand such a huge time commitment, or even novella, though I tend to stay away from short stories. Unless they’re in a collection that ties them together, or connected to some longer work, they tend to be over too quickly for me.

    • Laura

      Yay for the chunksters! Even if you get arm ache from holding them up! 🙂
      Oddly I do like reading short stories, but then I’m less keen on short novels which is seriously weird! Maybe I just like extremes of story lengths or something 🙂

  6. Mimi

    Hi Laura,

    I think, I’m quite the opposite of you. I like shorter books, preferably between 150 and 350 pages. But this doesn’t mean that I don’t read really big books, though. I really enjoyed the Harry Potter series, Twilight saga and also the Talon series, though I have only read the first book of this series yet. I don’t know how many pages the English version of the Talon book has, but the German version has 500+ pages. For last Christmas I got a book with 800 pages from my parents and I was really shocked when I realized how long that book is 😀 But of course, I want to read it anyway. The thing is just that I’m a terribly slow reader. I even take 3 – 4 weeks for a 350 page book. So I take waaaaay longer for a 800 page book, probably two months or so 😛

    Kind regards,
    Mimi

    • Laura

      Hi! 🙂
      I can be kind of a slow reader too, but it depends on the book. If I have a really long book that I am really enjoying I can fly through it in the same length of time as a much shorter book. It can drag on and on though if I’m not really getting into it, and I’ve had a few longer books that have taken me a month or more to read.
      Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  7. Aj @ Read All The Things!

    I like short books, but book length doesn’t influence if I read a book or not. If it sounds interesting, I don’t care how long it is. I’ll read it. I think I like short books because I’m a slow reader with a short attention span. I get bored with big books because they take me forever to read.

    • Laura

      I like to think book length doesn’t influence me a huge amount, but I am put off if a book is really short, because I’ll either feel like there wasn’t enough depths or get through it really quickly. I can get bored with big books too though sometimes. Although I like long books, if I’m not really getting into the story it can take me forever to read them!

  8. Pamela

    I think I draw the line at 800 pages. Longer than that and I really stop to think if it’ll be worth it. I don’t have a lot of time to read as it is, and if I’m going to invest it in a looong book, I want to be sure it’ll not be a waste!

    • Laura

      Yeah, I can see why if you haven’t got much time to read you might not feel like starting a huge book that will take ages to read. I read on my lunch breaks at work, so I know that I’ll always get in at least an hour a day, so I tend to get through even longer books at a reasonable pace.

      • Pamela

        It’s so cool you set that time for your reading every day! Technically, I could a lot more reading since I like to read on the kindle app in my phone too, but I prefer to read long books in a physical format. Digital doesn’t bother me, but in these cases, I feel as if the book gets even longer if I can’t really SEE how long it is and the pages seem endless.

        • Laura

          I know what you mean! Long ebooks just seem to go on and on forever when you can just see that percentage bar very gradually inching up! 🙂

  9. Simona

    To be honest, when I’m picking up a new book to read, I tend to look at pages. Mostly because I want to read as many of the amazing stories that I have on my TBR pile but also because I tend to get bored when I read book for a longer time. For example, I finished Iluminae today and it’s a thick book but the format was excellent, some of the pages had like one sentence on it and I liked that because it made me feel like I’m reading really fast. Though when I’m really invested in a book and it’s one of the longer ones, I don’t mind because it’s so good. Basically, I like both types. 😀

    • Laura

      I actually picked up Illuminae in Waterstones the other day and flicked through, but I was so confused by the weird format and it really put me off! I may have to give it a try though if you recommend it, and so many people seem to have enjoyed it.
      I know what you mean though about wanting to get through as many books of your TBR list as possible. That’s one of the major problems with my love of huge books – my TBR list is full of them, so it just seems to go down so slowly! 🙂

  10. Jackie

    The preferred length of book actually depends on the season for me. During the warm months, I prefer shorter novels. Books I can finish during an afternoon spent outside. It’s also busy season at work for me, so I don’t have the time to dive into hearty books. In the wintertime, when I’m stuffed indoors, I don’t mind getting lost in huuuundreds of pages!

    • Laura

      I love the idea of preferring different lengths of books for different seasons! I definitely have more long reading sessions in the winter when I’m stuck inside, so I can see why longer books would be much more appealing at that time of year.

  11. Greg

    I’ve been reading a lot of YA lately and they all seem to be in the 300- some page range, more or less, and that is a sweet spot for me. That page count generally seems sufficient to give the author time to do everything they need. Now as for fantasy- yeah i like a big doorstopper. 🙂 Martin’s novels, while the length puts some people off, i love it- I’ll take all the time I can get in Westeros lol. Generally speaking for Middle earth too. So yeah fantasy they can be as long as they need to be. 🙂

    • Laura

      I read quite a lot of YA too, and they do tend to be shorter, and I quite often find myself wishing they were longer! I just finished Crooked Kingdom, for example, and I would have loved that to have been longer because I absolutely adored it! The same goes for the Throne of Glass books – I know a lot of people haven’t liked that the later ones have been longer, but I just can’t get enough personally! 🙂
      I love nothing more than a fantasy doorstopper book though! I’m quite happy for fantasy books to go on and on! 🙂

  12. Puput @ Sparkling Letters

    The first fantasy novel I read was Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It was in translated version and 1200 pages! I finished it in 2 weeks and loved it so much hahaha but now I kind of prefer shorter books? It’s because there are so many books I want to read but so little time! I feel like I’m missing out on other books if I spend too much time on one book 😛 my preferred length is 300-400 for contemporary and maybe 350-600 for fantasy. Of course there’s always an exception especially for incredibly amazing books! I wouldn’t mind 700 pages if the book is that amazing lol

    • Laura

      Wow, Order of the Phoenix is definitely much longer in translation! 🙂
      I know what you mean about feeling like you’re missing out on other books if one takes too long. I love long books, but if there’s one that I’m not really getting into then I do get frustrated because I hate not finishing them, but there’s always so many other books I want to get to.
      300-400 pages definitely sounds like a good length for a nice quick read, and I think fantasy is one genre that can definitely get away with being much longer! All the world-building etc. can take a while, so I think it can take longer to get into 🙂

  13. Tiziana

    I think I prefer shorter books. Seeing a huge book scares me in the same way a big portion of food on a plate scares half of my appetite away haha. 🙂 Up to 400-something pages should be enough for me, but it also depends on other factors. It’s better when the chapters are of a short-medium length and of course, the writing style and the kind of story/topics impact my dealing with long books.

    The longest book I ever read was Tolstoy’s ‘Anna Karenina’, close to 1000 pages and it took me almost a month to finish. Although it’s one of my favourite stories, the lengthy parts on Russian issues, of which I had no prior knowledge, slowed my reading considerably.

    • Laura

      Haha, I love that analogy! I can sometimes feel intimidated by a huge book if it’s the start of a series and I don’t know what I’m in for…mostly I love them though! 🙂
      I definitely prefer shorter chapters though, because there are more places where you can easily stop reading if you have to. And writing style can massively effect how quickly I get through a book – in fact it can be a bigger factor than the length of the actual book!
      Anna Karenina is an example of the kind of big book that does intimidate me – I’d love to read it, but I know it would take me ages! 🙂

  14. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    I agree, I tend to enjoy really long books like Harry Potter and other 500+ books but I am also insanely intimidated by them. More so now than when I was younger. Now I think about the time these books will take to finish and think I could finish two smaller books in that time. It’s stupid because I will enjoy them but that’s how my brain works. That being said, I do sometimes feel like some long books are unnecessarily long and then the story can feel dragged out. It’s lees to do with length than the book being well written. I would kind of prefer it if all books could come in the same size, though, so I can’t tell if it’s long or not so won’t put off reading if it is. It’s why I like ebooks.

    • Laura

      I know what you mean – I love long books but sometimes I can be a little intimidated by them. It can seem like a big undertaking when you start, and at first it seems like you’re making no headway! 🙂
      There are definitely long books I’ve read though that could have been much shorter. I like big books, but not if it’s all just filler and unnecessary scenes and information!

  15. Kelsey

    I’m not too bothered by length, I think some books need to be longer, normally fantasy because it takes longer to develop a world but as long as it doesn’t feel too rushed or drawn out I’m happy to read any length!

    Having said that though, I often read on my Kindle so I’m not actually sure most of the time what the length of the book is anyway.

    • Laura

      Yeah, I think the most important thing is that the book is the right length for the story – so not glossed over too quickly or dragged out.
      That’s one of the things I have always found weird when reading ebooks – even though you have the percentage bar you can never really tell how long the book is! In a way that’s probably a better way of reading because you’re less influenced by the length when choosing what to read, but I imagine there are books that just seem to go on forever and ever!

  16. Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight

    I mean, it’s mostly irrelevant? But not entirely. Sometimes I might just be in the mood for something quick. Or if a book is super long and I’m already unsure about it, the length will make me even more unsure. And I definitely consider the length when deciding if the price is worth it.

    If I had to choose a general length I prefer though, I’d say maybe 300-something pages? I try to avoid books that are too short because, like you, it takes me a long time to get into stories, though I do still read them sometimes when they sound good. But that’s why I prefer series, and 300ish seems like a good length for each book in a series. But then, also like you said, if I love a series, I’m happy to have longer books because it means more story to read! I read four books in one series last year, and they kept getting longer each book and then the fourth was over 700 pages but I was glad because I was loving it and I really want the next book to be just as long lol. So I guess the best length just depends on how much length the story needs in order to be told properly and how much I’m enjoying it 🙂

    • Laura

      300 pages is a good length for a novel that’s not too brief, but isn’t going to take a long time to read, so I get your preference! Especially first books in a series, you don’t want to be too long in case you don’t like it, but if you love it then it can only be a good thing when the later books get longer and longer! 🙂
      I totally agree though – the best length is the one that’s right for the story being told. So as long as the story isn’t under developed or dragged out, then it’s fine by me! 🙂

  17. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    I tend to like my books at right around 400 pages. Anything longer than that feels a little long. Books that are longer than 700 pages feel very intimidating to me, even though I’ve enjoyed many books that length—I have to psych myself up to read them and I can’t read them back-to-back. Anything shorter than 300 pages feels really short to me. That can be okay in a cute contemp, but most genres don’t have enough development when they’re that short.

    • Laura

      Yeah, I think there’s definitely a sweet spot around 400 pages – it’s long enough for a fully developed story, but not so long it’s going to take forever to read. I get what you mean about longer books being intimidating too. Even though I love long books I do sometimes have to psych myself up to them, especially if I’m unsure whether or not I’m going to like it.

  18. Dragonfly @ Our Familiarium

    I didn’t use to but now that I’m suffering from this chronic reading slump condition I do tend to stay away from books over 400 pages. I would really like to finish The Passage but I don’t because it’s tooo long! Greta Post Laura 🙂

    • Laura

      I know what you mean – when I was in a reading slump I tried to stick with shorter books too, just so it didn’t take me literally weeks to read one book. I hope you manage to get out of your reading slump soon! 🙂

  19. Katy

    If I ran the world, all songs would be 3 minutes long, all films would be 90 minutes and all books would be 400 pages. I do read books that are longer or shorter, but as someone who likes to read 5 or 6 books a week, very long books tend to annoy me. Also I read in bed and 700-page epics really hurt when you doze off and drop them on your face.
    I’m glad I dropped by this post because I can see that when world donination is mine, the masses will support my 400-page rules!

    • Laura

      Wow, 5 – 6 books a week is a lot! I can see why very long books would annoy you! And yes, I’ve definitely done the whole ‘drop the huge book on your face’ thing, and it really does hurt! I’ve also fallen asleep with my head on a huge book, which wasn’t very comfortable, and dropping them on your toe also isn’t fun. I really hadn’t thought about all of the possible hazards with big books when I said I liked them best! 🙂
      It definitely seems like you’ll have a lot of support for your 400 page rule, judging by the comments! Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  20. Di @ Book Reviews by Di

    Hmm. Tough one. I’m actually pretty daunted by a huge first book but a lot of my favourites are either large series (ASOIAF, Harry Potter, anything SJ Maas) or fairly big books! When I know it’s going to be good the bigger the better! However I don’t like jumping into something long without a solid recommendation. It’s a lot to commit to!

    It’s an interesting discussion and a great post.

    • Laura

      I know what you mean – it can seem quite risky to go for something really long if you haven’t at least some assurance that it’s going to be good!
      Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  21. Michelle @ FaerieFits

    I kind of like the best of both worlds, if that’s even possible? My favorite things to read are short series that are about 300 pages per book, so about 900-1200 pages total. I like these because I get the long story line, but I feel like I’m making faster progress by having a shorter way to go, if that makes any sense?

    • Laura

      That makes total sense! I definitely like that feeling too of making progress, but getting a long storyline 🙂

  22. Sam @ Sharing Inspired Kreations

    Noooo! I definitely prefer books that are on the shorter side. Long books like your favourites scare me! First of all, I am a slow reader. Second, I don’t have much time to read these days! And third, I NEED to read all the books (which I realize is impossible, but long books make it even less achievable). Now, I don’t like books that are so short that you don’t get full character development or are really able to get into the story.

    Therefore, I like books that are not too big, not too small, but juuuust right! Haha!

    • Laura

      Haha, I definitely get the whole ‘I need to read all the books’ thing! Unfortunately so many of the books I want to read are really long, and it does mean I don’t get to as many of them as quickly as I’d like 🙂
      Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  23. Sebastian

    Hmm, interesting question!

    When I buy a book I don’t really pay attention to its length unless it’s either unusually short or unusually long. For example I always think twice before buying a book that only has about 200 pages because I often doubt that this is enough time to create a complex plot and complex characters. Also they usually cost the same as “normal” books so that I feel like I get less content for my money.

    On the other hand I also think twice when I see books with 600+ pages because then I start worrying if I should invest so much time in something I can’t be sure of ending up liking it. BUT if I’m really enjoying a book then I don’t really mind if it has 600, 800 or even 1000 pages because then I just can’t get enough of it and as long as the story is interesting and captivating books can be as long as they need to be 😀

    But when I look at my reading habits and statistics I think I can say that my preferred book length is somewhere between 350 and 500 pages, so somewhere in the middle between short and epic 😀

    • Laura

      That’s great that you don’t let book length affect your choices too much, but I know what you mean about the really short books and the really long ones. I hate feeling like I’m not getting much for my money with a short book, but it is a bigger commitment to start a really long one! 🙂
      350-500 pages is a pretty good mid-length novel. It seems like that’s a lot of people’s sweet spot! 🙂

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