How To Survive Reading A Long Book

09/10/2019 Discussions, Reading 10

I love long books, and getting lost in a sprawling, epic story that goes on and on…but I don’t read them all that often. In fact long books (let’s say books over 800 pages) are generally the ones on my TBR that I put off the longest, no matter how much I want to read them.

And there’s a simple reason for that: they take so damn long to read! If I start reading a long book and find that I’m even slightly not in the mood to read it, it ends up taking me an eternity to get through. Plus I start to put off reading (because I’m a weirdo who never DNFs) because just looking at the crazy amount I have left to read depresses me.

In short, reading long books can be a bit of a mixed bag, so I’ve put together a list of ‘long book survival tips’ here, for anyone else who simultaneously loves and struggles with big books.

So here’s how to survive reading a long book:

Before you start, ask yourself ‘Do I really want to read this right now?’

Long books are a big commitment: you’re going to be reading them for quite some time. So before you even contemplate picking one up, ask yourself if that’s really what you want to read right now.

Especially if you’re a huge mood read like me, you need to ask yourself if you’re prepared to be immersed in that world for a long time, and see if the thought terrifies/horrifies you. You should maybe even ask yourself, do you even want to read this book? Because so many people read huge classics just because they feel they should…but do you actually want to read them? Because if not, it’s going to be a struggle!

Have long reading sessions…with snacks!

In this day and age, we love binge watching TV for hours, to the extent that Netflix even calls us out on it (it’s quite an achievement to get that ‘are you still watching…?’ screen! ). So I always find binge reading is a great way to make real progress with long books.

Especially at this time of year when the evenings are long and dark, I like to snuggle up under a blanket, snacks at my side and have a good long read. This is such a fun thing to do, means you make tonnes of progress with your book, and allows you to become fully immersed in the story (because let’s face it, long books are generally quite complex!).

Have short reading sessions, whenever you have chance.

Yes, this is kind of the opposite of my last point, but is also a good way to make progress on your book. We don’t always have the time or opportunity for long reading sessions, so taking the book around with you and grabbing whatever moment you can to read is a good idea. Maybe you can only grab half an hour during your lunch break to read, or ten minutes before you go in to see the dentist, but it all adds up!

Of course the one problem with this is actually having to cart a huge book around…I hauled a hardback copy of Brandon Sanderson’s 1000-page monstrosity Words of Radiance to work every day for a week, which was definitely a challenge. So these days I tend to read long books on my Kindle where possible!

Read other books alongside it.

As I said earlier, sometimes if I’m struggling to get through a long book I start to put off reading, because it’s overwhelming to see how much more I still have to read. So having an alternate book on the go can be a good way to make sure you’re still reading, even if you’re not in the mood for the long book.

As I spoke about the other day, I can’t personally read multiple novels at the same time (although apparently a lot of people can!), but I often have non-fiction books or a manga series on the go at the same time.

Let yourself get lost in the story.

And my best tip for surviving a long book? Don’t think of it as a long book, but simply as a story, and allow yourself to get swept away by it.

I always find it tempting with physical books to be looking to see how far through I am, or checking my Kindle percentage, when really that shouldn’t matter. It’s all about the story, and the epic journey it’s going to take me on!

My recommended long reads: The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon, The Stormlight Archive books by Brandon Sanderson, the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, the Liveship Traders series by Robin Hobb, The Empire Trilogy by Janny Wurts and Raymond E. Feist.

So how do you tackle long books? Do you find it easy or hard? What are some of your tips for surviving a long book?

10 Responses to “How To Survive Reading A Long Book”

  1. Angela

    I don’t read as many long books as I used to! I do love reading them, though – there’s something so satisfying about a really long book! I try to break the book up into sections and read it over the course of a month or two, alternating with other books. That way I can still read the book but feel like I’m still getting stuff done for the blog (other reviews, etc.).

    • Laura

      That’s a really good idea to break the book up into sections and read other things in between. I may have to try that!

  2. Liliana

    I find big book intimidating, so these are awesome tips! For me it really depends on the book on how fast/slow I get through it. The one book I flew through that was 800+ pages long was Winter by Marissa Meyer. I just really love The Lunar Chronicles, and I think I read that book in like 2 days! It was insane! I was just super into it though. Lol. But that first tip about making sure you’re actually in the mood to read it is really good!

    • Laura

      That’s occasionally happened for me with big books, where I’ve flown through it in days when I’ve been really enjoying it. I’ve still only read the first book in the Lunar Chronicles, so I really need to hurry up and read the rest of the series soon!

  3. Dani @ Perspective of a Writer

    Love your tips Laura!! I have taken to really pausing and thinking whether I want to take on longer books lately. I worry that I will dislike them and then be stuck with a book that’s going to send me slumping. I also love reading shorter books along side long books!! That’s my fav. ❤️

    • Laura

      I always worry about long books sending me into a slump too, so I tend to approach them with caution these days. I love the idea of reading shorter books alongside longer ones though! 🙂

  4. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    Reading long books are tough but it’s usually so worth it. I feel like I need to take a few of your tips though because I am guilty of trying to read huge chunks every time I read a long book but smaller dips into the book during small spaces of freetime are good too. I’m not usually one for reading two books in one go but I think it probably would help me when it comes to reading longer books, maybe I should give that a go.

    • Laura

      Yeah, I think a good mix of reading big chunks and smaller sessions can be a good way to get through long books!

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