14 Long Novels for Long Winter Nights

February 19 2018

Sometimes during that long, frigid stretch between January and the first signs of spring, it seems like winter will never end. For me, the best cure for the winter doldrums is to cozy up with a very long, completely immersive novel and escape for a while. These hefty novels are ambitious and sweeping in both scope and scale, often spanning generations and continents, with multitudes of characters. They’re the perfect companions for hunkering down and waiting out the cold weather.

Here I Am
by Jonathan Safran Foer

From the bestselling author of EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE, this novel is the story of a fracturing family in a moment of crisis. As Jacob and Julia Bloch and their three sons are forced to confront the distances between the lives they think they want and the lives they are living, a catastrophic earthquake sets in motion a quickly escalating conflict in the Middle East.

571 pages

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Here I Am
Jonathan Safran Foer

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Close
1Q84
by Haruki Murakami

In Tokyo in 1984, a young woman named Aomame begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo becomes so wrapped up in a ghost-writing project and its unusual author that his previously placid life begins to unravel. Aomame’s and Tengo’s narratives converge over the course of this single year.

1,158 pages

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1Q84
Haruki Murakami

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MENTIONED IN:

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Close
Winter's Tale
by Mark Helprin

One winter night, Peter Lake attempts to rob a fortress-like mansion on the Upper West Side. Though he thinks the house is empty, the daughter of the house is home. Thus begins the love story between Peter Lake, a middle-aged Irish burglar, and Beverly Penn, a young girl who is dying. Peter’s great love for her drives him to embark on a journey to stop time and bring back the dead.

748 pages

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Winter's Tale
Mark Helprin

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MENTIONED IN:

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The Grace of Kings
by Ken Liu

Two men rebel together against tyranny—and then become rivals—in this sweeping first book of an epic fantasy series. Wily, a charming bandit, and Mata Zyndu, the fearless son of a deposed duke, seem like polar opposites. But the two become fast friends as they fight together against the emperor. Once the battle is won, they find themselves leaders of separate factions, with very different ideas about the meaning of justice.

623 pages

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The Grace of Kings
Ken Liu

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MENTIONED IN:

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Close
The Historian
by Elizabeth Kostova

While exploring her father’s library, a young woman discovers a cache of letters that plunge her into a world she never dreamed of, where the secrets of her father’s past and her mother’s mysterious fate connect to an inconceivable evil hidden in the depths of history. Soon she’s caught up in the centuries-long quest to find out the truth about Vlad the Impaler, the medieval ruler who was the basis of the legend of Dracula.

704 pages

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The Historian
Elizabeth Kostova

Late one night, exploring her father’s library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters. The letters are all addressed to “My dear and unfortunate successor,” and they plunge her into a world she never dreamed of—a labyrinth where the secrets of her father’s past and her mother’s mysterious fate connect to an inconceivable evil hidden in the depths of history.

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MENTIONED IN:

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By Off the Shelf Staff | November 25, 2020

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Close
The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch, Volume One
by Daniel Kraus

In 1896, a swaggering young gangster named Zebulon Finch is gunned down on the shores of Lake Michigan. But mere minutes later, he is resurrected. His new existance begins as a sideshow attraction in a traveling medicine show and will lead him to fight in the trenches of WWI, struggle in Depression-era New York City, and become a companion to the most beautiful woman in Hollywood.

656 pages

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The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch, Volume One
Daniel Kraus

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MENTIONED IN:

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Close
Under the Dome
by Stephen King

On an entirely normal day in Chester’s Mill, Maine, the town is suddenly and inexplicably sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field, leaving the inhabitants trapped inside of the dome. Iraq veteran Dale Barbara finds himself teamed up with a few intrepid citizens to resist the influence of Big Jim Rennie, a politician who will stop at nothing to hold the reins of power over the town.

1,074 pages

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Under the Dome
Stephen King

King's novel UNDER THE DOME was the basis of the 2013 television series. On an entirely normal, beautiful fall day in Chester's Mill, Maine, the town is inexplicably and suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. Tensions inside the dome rise as resources dwindle and power struggles arise. Can the residents of Chester's Mill band together to survive, or are they doomed to destroy one another?

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MENTIONED IN:

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By Off the Shelf Staff | December 1, 2020

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A WWII Historical Novel of Hope and Resistance to Light Up the Darkness

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Close
By Gaslight
by Steven Price

William Pinkerton, son of a famed detective, descends into the underworld of Victorian London in pursuit of Edward Shade, the notorious and elusive thief his father never managed to catch. Meanwhile Adam Foole receives a letter from his long-lost beloved and returns to London to search for her; what he learns of her fate and her connection to Shade will force him to confront a grief long buried.

731 pages

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By Gaslight
Steven Price

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MENTIONED IN:

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By Off the Shelf Staff | December 1, 2020

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A WWII Historical Novel of Hope and Resistance to Light Up the Darkness

By Holly Claytor | November 27, 2020

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Close
We, the Drowned
by Carsten Jensen

This epic seafaring adventure-drama spans four generations, two world wars, and 100 years. It follows Laurids Madsen, a Danish sailor who leaves his small island town to fight the Germans. As soon as he is old enough, Laurid’s son Albert sets off in search of his father on a voyage that will take him to the farthest reaches of the globe.

688 pages

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We, the Drowned
Carsten Jensen

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MENTIONED IN:

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A WWII Historical Novel of Hope and Resistance to Light Up the Darkness

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By Maddie Ehrenreich | November 26, 2020

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By Off the Shelf Staff | November 25, 2020

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By Maddie Ehrenreich | November 24, 2020

Close
I Am Radar
by Reif Larsen

When Radar Radmanovic is born, the hospital electricity fails and his white parents are stunned by his jet-black skin. This kaleidoscopic novel, both heartbreaking and dazzling, extends outward from Radar’s strange birth to World War II Norway, where a cadre of imprisoned schoolteachers founds a radical secret society. Their stories are linked by Radar, who struggles with love, a set of hapless parents, and a terrible medical affliction that he has only just begun to comprehend.

656 pages

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I Am Radar
Reif Larsen

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MENTIONED IN:

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By Off the Shelf Staff | November 25, 2020

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Close
The Queen of the Night
by Alexander Chee

Singer Lilliet Berne is a sensation of the Paris Opera with every accolade except an original role. When one is finally offered to her, she realizes with horror that the libretto is based on a hidden secret of her past. Only four people could possibly have betrayed her—she must figure out who, before her past can destroy her. She mines her memories for clues, looking back on a complicated life of romance, obligation, and political intrigue.

561 pages

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The Queen of the Night
Alexander Chee

Lilliet Berne, legendary soprano at the Paris Opera, is offered a coveted original role, but realizes with horror that this new opera is based on the dark secrets of her own past. Who betrayed her? This thrilling historical drama is filled with so many things I love: mystery, political intrigue, opera, and treachery. —Sarah Jane

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theMystery.doc
by Matthew McIntosh

In this part love story, part documentary, part existential whodunit, a young writer attempts to write the follow-up to his first novel. In it, pop-up ads, search results, web chats, snippets of conversation, film and television stills, and more tell the story of a man who wakes up one morning without any memory of who he is, his only clue a single blank document on his computer called themystery.doc.

1,669 pages

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theMystery.doc
Matthew McIntosh

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MENTIONED IN:

9 Festive Books We Always Read to Get Into the Holiday Spirit

By Off the Shelf Staff | December 1, 2020

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By Off the Shelf Staff | November 30, 2020

A WWII Historical Novel of Hope and Resistance to Light Up the Darkness

By Holly Claytor | November 27, 2020

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By Maddie Ehrenreich | November 26, 2020

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By Off the Shelf Staff | November 25, 2020

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By Maddie Ehrenreich | November 24, 2020

Close
Against the Day
by Thomas Pynchon

This novel spans the era between the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 and the years just after World War I, moving among locations across the globe and featuring a phantasmagoria of characters. AGAINST THE DAY confronts a world of impending disaster, unrestrained corporate greed, false religiosity, moronic fecklessness, and evil intent in high places, and still manages to be hilarious, moving, and profound.

1,085 pages

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Against the Day
Thomas Pynchon

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MENTIONED IN:

9 Festive Books We Always Read to Get Into the Holiday Spirit

By Off the Shelf Staff | December 1, 2020

The 10 Most Popular Books We Escaped Into This November

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 30, 2020

A WWII Historical Novel of Hope and Resistance to Light Up the Darkness

By Holly Claytor | November 27, 2020

10 Family Novels as Warm and Fuzzy as Your Favorite Sweater

By Maddie Ehrenreich | November 26, 2020

Readers’ Choice: The 10 Best Book Recommendations You’ve Ever Received

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 25, 2020

5 Workplace Thrillers to Make You Miss Your Office (or Not!)

By Maddie Ehrenreich | November 24, 2020

Close
A Man in Full
by Tom Wolfe

Charles Croker is an Atlanta conglomerate king whose outsized ego has hit up against reality—he is saddled with staggering debt. Meanwhile Conrad Hensley, father of two, is laid off from Croker Global Foods. And star football player Fareek Fanon is accused of date-raping the daughter of a prominent white man, so upscale black lawyer Roger White III endeavors to defend him and keep Atlanta’s delicate racial balance from exploding.

742 pages

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A Man in Full
Tom Wolfe

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MENTIONED IN:

9 Festive Books We Always Read to Get Into the Holiday Spirit

By Off the Shelf Staff | December 1, 2020

The 10 Most Popular Books We Escaped Into This November

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 30, 2020

A WWII Historical Novel of Hope and Resistance to Light Up the Darkness

By Holly Claytor | November 27, 2020

10 Family Novels as Warm and Fuzzy as Your Favorite Sweater

By Maddie Ehrenreich | November 26, 2020

Readers’ Choice: The 10 Best Book Recommendations You’ve Ever Received

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 25, 2020

5 Workplace Thrillers to Make You Miss Your Office (or Not!)

By Maddie Ehrenreich | November 24, 2020

Close

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