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Reading XXL: 15 Extra Long Books Perfect for Extra Long Winter Nights

Julianna Haubner is an associate editor at the Simon & Schuster imprint, which she joined in September 2014 after completing the Columbia Publishing Course. She graduated from Colby College with a B.A. in English and history, and happily lives her life according to the three B’s: Books, Baking, and Bravo. A lifelong reader, Julianna is a compulsive borrower, buyer, and collector of literary and historical fiction, biographies, and cultural history. She’s on Twitter @jhaubner2, and is behind your favorite bookstagrams @offtheshelfofficial.  

We like big books and we cannot lie—we buy them, we shelve them, and we stare at them, promising that someday, when we have the time, we’ll read them. Winter is the perfect season for crossing some of those wonderful doorstops off your list. Pour that hot cocoa, grab that blanket, and settle yourself into your favorite reading spot. You’re going to be there for a while, and love every minute of it.


The Luminaries
by Eleanor Catton
A winner of the Man Booker Prize, Eleanor Catton’s beautifully detailed novel is set in nineteenth century New Zealand, where Walter Moody has arrived to stake his claim in the gold rush. This is an epic about greed, power, gold, dreams, opium, secrets, betrayal, and identity, but most of all, it’s a celebration of the art of storytelling. . . . Page Count: 864
The Luminaries
Eleanor Catton

Reading XXL: 15 Extra Long Books Perfect for Extra Long Winter Nights

We like big books and we cannot lie—we buy them, we shelve them, and we stare at them, promising that someday, when we have the time, we’ll read them. Winter is the perfect season for crossing some of those wonderful doorstops off your list.

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Night Film
by Marisha Pessl
On a damp night the daughter of a reclusive cult-horror film director is found dead in lower Manhattan. A journalist soon discovers that this is not the first murder to befall a member of the director’s family. The mixed-media approach to storytelling and inventive, suspenseful plot will keep you turning the pages. . . . Page Count: 640
Night Film
Marisha Pessl

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The Interestings
by Meg Wolitzer
If someone were to write a book about the “Friends” theme song, this would be it. Jules, Ethan, Ash, Jonah, Goodman, and Cathy meet as teenagers at a summer arts camp, and remain bonded for their entire lives. These characters are not only unforgettable, they’re so human that you’ll wonder if you’ve met them in real life. . . . Page Count: 560
The Interestings
Meg Wolitzer

“Like any good friend group, Wolitzer’s novel has a little bit of everything. There’s romance, there’s comedy, there’s drama, there’s sadness, and there’s an undeniable, everlasting devotion to the people you take the journey with.”

Read the full review by Julianna Haubner here.

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Gone to Soldiers
by Marge Piercy
In this sweeping novel of World War II, Piercy follows six women and four men who fought, died, worked, worried, moved, and loved through the drama of the conflict. As we bear witness to events known and unknown across Europe, what stands out most is the strength of the human spirit, and the power of survival. . . . Page Count: 768
Gone to Soldiers
Marge Piercy

“More than 750 pages long, GONE TO SOLDIERS can definitely be intimidating, and I knew when I picked up this novel that it would need to be extraordinary in order to hold my attention for a few weeks. Thankfully, I was not disappointed.”

Read Erin Flaaen’s review here.

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Walt Disney
by Neal Gabler
It’s fitting that a definitive portrait of the so-called Man behind the Mouse is nearly one-thousand pages: it matches his legacy. Walt Disney was arguably the most influential figure of the twentieth century, shaping and changing American culture as we know it through his films and entertainment empire. . . . Page Count: 912
Walt Disney
Neal Gabler

He may not have been a writer, but Walt Disney adapted some of the most beloved and well-known stories of all time, making them even more iconic. The first writer to be given access to the Disney archives, Neal Gabler’s fascinating tale goes deep into both the personal and professional life of this culture-changing visionary. Any fan of “the man behind the mouse” and his films would love this in-depth look at the legend, both on the page or on-screen.

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11/22/63
by Stephen King
A Maine high school teacher steps through a time portal and attempts to stop the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The twists and turns will have you speeding through, but if you need any more motivation, mark your calendar: the Hulu adaptation starring James Franco premieres this President’s Day. . . . Page Count: 880
11/22/63
Stephen King

“Regardless of what genre of literature one prefers, 11/22/63 comes down to this: it is a gripping, harrowing, tragic, and beautiful story about love, memory, evil, and how the best of intentions can go awry... This is King for the faint of heart, for the history buff, for the romantic—for everyone.”

Read the full review here.

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We Are Not Ourselves
by Matthew Thomas
This stunning first novel follows the daughter of Irish immigrants in Queens who is determined to get out and achieve the American Dream. Thomas’s gorgeous prose and unforgettable characters will have you turning the pages as fast as you can. . . . Page Count: 656
We Are Not Ourselves
Matthew Thomas

The promise and tragedy of post-war America is charted in this riveting portrait of an Irish-American family as they chase the American Dream. It is at once expansive and exquisitely detailed, but what readers will remember most is the huge heart at its core. It heralds the arrival of a major new talent in contemporary fiction and is destined to be an American classic.

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Freedom
by Jonathan Franzen
A modern epic, Jonathan Franzen’s novel of family and suburban sprawl comically and tragically captures the mistakes and joys of one couple as they struggle to learn how to live in an ever more confusing world, and perfectly captures what it means to come of age. . . . Page Count: 608
Freedom
Jonathan Franzen

Freedom follows Walter and Patty Berglund as they struggle to learn how to live in an ever more confusing world. This award-winning novel comically and tragically captures the temptations and burdens of liberty, the thrills of teenage lust, the shaken compromises of middle age, the wages of suburban sprawl, and the heavy weight of empire.

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The Mists of Avalon
by Marion Zimmer Bradley
There’s no other way to put it: this novel is magic. Literally. Marion Zimmer Bradley takes us deep into the legend of Camelot through the eyes of the powerful women who helped King Arthur claim his throne, and later brought his kingdom to ruin. Perfect for a long snow day—or any time you’re in need of an escape to another world. . . . Page Count: 876
The Mists of Avalon
Marion Zimmer Bradley

This beloved series explores the magic and mythology of King Arthur’s Britain. Told from the perspective of the female characters who are usually marginalized in Arthurian legend, it is sure to appeal to readers who love Outlander’s feminist contribution to the fantasy genre.

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Far From the Tree
by Andrew Solomon
Andrew Solomon’s startling proposition in this landmark book is that being exceptional is at the core of the human condition. Difference is what defines and unites us. Solomon interviewed families whose children run the gamut from prodigy to potentially dangerous, and explores how people who love each other must struggle to accept each other—a theme in every family’s life. . . . Page Count: 976
Far From the Tree
Andrew Solomon

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Underworld
by Don DeLillo
One of DeLillo’s best, this doorstopper—and showstopper—begins with Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard Round the World” at the Polo Grounds, and steamrolls ahead to tell the story of the second half of the twentieth century. Though the novel focuses on an artist and an executive, Lenny Bruce, J. Edgar Hoover, Frank Sinatra, and Jackie Gleason all make appearances. . . . Page Count: 832
Underworld
Don DeLillo

One of DeLillo’s best, Underworld has many storylines, but it starts on a baseball diamond. The book only spends a short time focusing on baseball, but one ball in particular factors into all of the action that follows.

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Gone with the Wind
by Margaret Mitchell
An American classic on almost everyone’s bucket list, this one is an oldie—and a biggie—but a goodie. Even if you’ve watched the movie of this epic of the Civil War South, read the book. This masterpiece is worth your time. . . . Page Count: 960
Gone with the Wind
Margaret Mitchell

The Game of Thrones and Harry Potter series are both masterworks of imaginative literature that have been thrillingly translated to the screen, but for my taste, I’ll go with Gone with the Wind. Like the Stark family and the residents of Hogwarts, Scarlett and Rhett are such vivid characters on the page that you can’t imagine them being portrayed adequately on film—until suddenly, there they are, each work only enhancing your enjoyment of the other.

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The Autobiography of Malcolm X
by Malcolm X

The shortest book on this list, this searing and important memoir from one of the great thought leaders and activists of American history is a must-read. As he chronicles his childhood, religious beliefs, and the experience of being black in the United States, Malcolm X’s words shine a light on how far we have come as a country—and how much farther we still have to go. . . . Page Count: 460

The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Malcolm X

The shortest book on this list, this searing and important memoir from one of the great thought leaders and activists of American history is a must-read. As he chronicles his childhood, religious beliefs, and the experience of being black in the United States, Malcolm X’s words shine a light on how far we have come as a country—and how much farther we still have to go. . . . Page Count: 460

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In Sunlight and in Shadow
by Mark Helprin

In the summer of 1946, New York City pulses with energy. Harry Copeland returns from from WWII to run his family business and falls for an intoxicating young singer and heiress. Their romance plays out in Broadway theaters, Long Island mansions, the offices of financiers, and the haunts of gangsters—and ultimately requires that Harry risk everything for love. . . . Page Count: 720

In Sunlight and in Shadow
Mark Helprin

In the summer of 1946, New York City pulses with energy. Harry Copeland returns from from WWII to run his family business and falls for an intoxicating young singer and heiress. Their romance plays out in Broadway theaters, Long Island mansions, the offices of financiers, and the haunts of gangsters—and ultimately requires that Harry risk everything for love. . . . Page Count: 720

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Reading XXL: 15 Extra Long Books Perfect for Extra Long Winter Nights

By Julianna Haubner | January 26, 2016

Close

The Crimson Petal and the White
by Michel Faber

London in the 1870s. Sugar is a nineteen-year-old prostitute yearning for a better life. Her ascent through the strata of Victorian society offers us intimacy with a host of lovable, maddening, unforgettable characters. Twenty years in its conception, research, and writing, this panoramic, multidimensional novel is teeming with life, and rich in texture. . . . Page Count: 901

The Crimson Petal and the White
Michel Faber

London in the 1870s. Sugar is a nineteen-year-old prostitute yearning for a better life. Her ascent through the strata of Victorian society offers us intimacy with a host of lovable, maddening, unforgettable characters. Twenty years in its conception, research, and writing, this panoramic, multidimensional novel is teeming with life, and rich in texture. . . . Page Count: 901

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Reading XXL: 15 Extra Long Books Perfect for Extra Long Winter Nights

By Julianna Haubner | January 26, 2016

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