Ever seen a book that looks so epically big and long that you think, despite all the hype, you just can't be bothered to commit to it? It happens quite a lot because no one really wants to start a big, long read if there is even a fraction of a possibility that they won't enjoy it. However, if that's the case, you may miss out on some absolute classics.
Here we look at a few of those big books (over 600 pages) that are definitely worth your time and that you should not miss out on.
1. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Despite its length, this novel was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Telling the story of brotherly love and the limits of human endurance in a heartbreaking and compelling novel that is essential reading.
A coming of age story, the novel follows the lives of four friends in New York City after they have graduated from college. Despite its length and difficult themes, it became a bestseller, showing the strength of this novel.
2. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
This novel actually went one better than the first on this list as it actually won the Booker prize. Starting out as a mystery set in the 1800s, it develops out into a sprawling think piece on destiny and predetermined paths of fate represented by star signs and heavenly bodies.
The plot follows Walter Moody, a prospector who travels to the fledgling West Coast of the South Island settlement of Hokitika, near New Zealand's goldfields in 1866 to try to make his fortune. Instead, he stumbles into a tense meeting between twelve local men, who draw him into the complex mystery behind a series of unsolved crimes
3. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
A sweeping story of loss and obsession, of survival and self-invention, of the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and fate, this tragic and enthralling novel takes us through the backroom parlors and dusty old antique shops of the rich and well to do of contemporary America.
A bildungsroman of how a young man descends into a life of crime it is a thrilling read right the way through.
4. Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
Born at the exact moment India gained independence from Britain, Saleem Sinai inexplicably shares his story with the trials and tribulations of a nation trying to stand on its own after colonial rule. Set against the backdrop of real historical events, it sees the painful secession of India and Pakistan as well as war between the two countries and war between the latter and Bangladesh. As the protagonist bounces around the sub-continent, it shows how his country shapes him and how its people shape India.
So revered is this book that it won the Booker Prize in 1981 and then went on to win the Booker of Bookers (a prize determined to find the best book amongst all Booker Prize winners) both in 1993 and 2008. Although under the guise on an intricately detailed narrative of magical-realism and self-discovery, this is actually a story of a nation so vast and colorful all its glories can not be told even in this whopper of a novel.
5. Middlemarch by George Eliot
A controversial choice for those who may remember having to study it at school or college but there is a reason that this is lauded as one of the finest pieces of literature in the English language.
Middlemarch provides a complex look at English provincial life at a crucial historical moment and contains an exploration of some of the most potent myths of Victorian literature.
6. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
Epically long coming in at around 900 pages plus a further 100 pages of footnotes, this book may not be easy going but it is a fantastic read following the narratives of pot smoking tennis prodigies and the occupants of a local rehab center where parallels are drawn and mirrored, and yet nothing is brought to a solid conclusion.
The novel offers up no answers, no definitives, and little set structure and yet the way it presents the lives of people stuck in ruts of drug abuse or otherwise is both engaging and enthralling.
7. 2666 by Roberto Bolano
Taking place in a Mexican border town, the lives of several characters become intertwined by dark goings on and disappearances, and it soon builds to a crescendo of apocalyptic proportions.
An absolute sensation upon publication, it marked Bolano out as one of Latin America's most important novelists of the age.
8. Underworld by Don DeLillo
A non-linear narrative that just sees ordinary, working class Americans reacting to historical events over a 40 year period where it shows the American aesthetic and experience over those decades how the ordinary are caught up in the great events of history that shape a nation and our world
As the opening line states, “He speaks in your voice, American, and there’s a shine in his eye that’s halfway hopeful.”
9. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
To look at the sheer size of this book might put a few off but for those who take the plunge they will be treated to an epic journey that is semi-autobiographical and tells of an Australian fugitive who goes on to lead a life nothing short of jaw-dropping as he finds himself in India as a Bombay, slum doctor, then a gangland gun runner to an unwitting participant in the Afghanistan war.
10. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
One of the great Russian novels, this story tells of infidelity and unhappiness within a family of high-achievers set against the backdrop of feudal Russia. A pinnacle in realist fiction it takes in social, political and historical issues in Russia and it also points at social hypocrisies and the different treatment of men and women.
Often cited as a perfect novel it is considered one of the best ever written by many authors.