I’m not Tolstoy

Here’s an extract from something I wrote when I was struggling to cut down the waffle in something I was writing:

So… the long books that I’m grappling with. The writers are renowned and fêted novelists; they are professionals, they are the top of the class in fiction writing, queens of their genre… and they have written really, really long books. Do I read every word… well, actually no… actually…  (and I am criticising me here, not the writers) actually I got bored with knowing every last detail of what someone wore/looked at/said/thought/was reminded of. After a while I found the mountain of words muddling… and this is me being a feeble reader; I became confused with the histories of each character, muddled as to who had been married to whom, which problem parent belonged to which troubled man/woman, I just really didn’t care about what happened to them as young people and their relationships with friends – even though within all this were nuggets of information which helped resolve the main dilemma of the novels. I really am not criticising the writers – but for me as a reader, in the end, I felt like giving up.

I read Dickens, I read Wilkie Collins,  I read Game of Thrones, I read The English Passengers by Matthew Kneale and Heartstone by C.J.Sansom… so I can read long books… War and Peace? I’ve read it. Anna Karenina? I’ve read it twice… Lord of the Rings, read it at least four times… So why am I struggling with the long books I’m reading now? It must be me!

Ten long books I’ve read:

183,858 words – Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
198,901 words – A House for Mr. Biswas – V.S. Naipaul
208,773 words – Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
211,591 words – Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
316,059 words – Middlemarch – George Eliot
349,736 words – Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
364,153 words – The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
418,053 words – Gone with the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
455,125 words – The Lord of the Rings – J. R. R. Tolkien
587,287 words – War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

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