Share 10 Very Long, Very Captivating Books to Hunker Down with on Winter Nights

10 Very Long, Very Captivating Books to Hunker Down with on Winter Nights

Alice Martin is a PhD candidate in English Literature at Rutgers University, where she obsesses over nineteenth-century women writers, the history of the publishing industry, and writing practices. She’s also a regular contributor to Shelf Awareness and a freelance writer and editor. Her writing has appeared in The Carolina Quarterly, Appalachian Heritage, and Sixfold among other publications. You can find her talking about books, food, and basketball (in that order) on Twitter @AliceJeanMartin.

It’s that time of year again when sun sets before 5:00 p.m. With the winter winds howling and the streetlights on outside, there’s only one thing to do: slip on your PJs and curl up with a good book. With plenty of long nights ahead, you’ll need some long books to go with them. Let us recommend a few of our longest favorites. With literary tours de force, sprawling generational epics, gripping horror-thrillers, and historic deep dives, this list has at least one long book (and probably more like two or three) that will keep anyone turning pages far into even the longest night.


Barkskins
by Annie Proulx

Page Count: 736

In seventeenth-century Canada, two men, Sel and Duquet, are bound to the land through feudal law for three years, serving as woodcutters. Sel suffers through his duty and settles in the area, while Duquet escapes to become a fur trader. As decades go by, Sel and Duquet’s ancestors live through different hardships, scattering across the US, Canada, Europe, and beyond, but remaining attached to the debts—emotional and environmental—of their pasts. In Barkskins, Annie Proulx creates a multigenerational epic with astounding range.

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Barkskins
Annie Proulx

BARKSKINS sweeps readers around the globe from America to Europe to New Zealand in an epic story about the decimation of the world’s forests. Told from the perspective of two wood-cutters and their descendants over the course of 300 years, the characters face incredible challenges, including the revenge of rivals, accidents, pestilence, Indian attacks, and cultural annihilation.

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The Institute
by Stephen King

Page Count: 576

Master of horror Stephen King offers a psychological and institutional thriller in The Institute. After being kidnapped from his quiet, suburban home, young Luke Ellis wakes up in the Institute. Here, cruel, shadowy adults use children’s unexplainable gifts, like telekinesis and telepathy, to unseen advantages, while misbehaving children are sent to the mysterious “Back Half.” As more and more of Luke’s friends begin to disappear, the pressure to stage what seems an impossible escape mounts.

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The Institute
Stephen King

A NEW YORK TIMES 100 NOTABLE BOOKS OF 2019 SELECTION

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Stephen King, the most riveting and unforgettable story of kids confronting evil since It.

In the middle of the night, in a house on a quiet street in suburban Minneapolis, intruders silently murder Luke Ellis’s parents and load him into a black SUV. The operation takes less than two minutes. Luke will wake up at The Institute, in a room that looks just like his own, except there’s no window. And outside his door are other doors, behind which are other kids with special talents—telekinesis and telepathy—who got to this place the same way Luke did: Kalisha, Nick, George, Iris, and ten-year-old Avery Dixon. They are all in Front Half. Others, Luke learns, graduated to Back Half, “like the roach motel,” Kalisha says. “You check in, but you don’t check out.”

In this most sinister of institutions, the director, Mrs. Sigsby, and her staff are ruthlessly dedicated to extracting from these children the force of their extranormal gifts. There are no scruples here. If you go along, you get tokens for the vending machines. If you don’t, punishment is brutal. As each new victim disappears to Back Half, Luke becomes more and more desperate to get out and get help. But no one has ever escaped from the Institute.

As psychically terrifying as Firestarter, and with the spectacular kid power of It, The Institute is Stephen King’s gut-wrenchingly dramatic story of good vs. evil in a world where the good guys don’t always win.

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MENTIONED IN:

10 Very Long, Very Captivating Books to Hunker Down with on Winter Nights

By Alice Martin | January 24, 2020

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All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr

Page Count: 544

In Anthony Doerr’s acclaimed and dazzling All the Light We Cannot See, two children struggle to make sense of World War II–torn Europe. Marie-Laure, a clever blind girl, lives with her father in Nazi-occupied Paris, desperate to keep a historical treasure hidden. Meanwhile, Werner, an orphan who will do anything to protect his sister, joins the Hitler Youth and develops a radio technology skill that, despite his good intentions, could prove deadly in the wrong hands

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All the Light We Cannot See
Anthony Doerr

Already beloved by millions of readers, this novel follows a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as they both try to survive the devastation of World War II. The breakout hit of 2014, this beautiful novel was a finalist for the National Book Award and it just won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. If you haven't read it yet, this one should be at the top of your spring reading list.

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Look at Me
by Jennifer Egan

Page Count: 544

Charlotte, a famous fashion model, returns to New York after undergoing facial reconstruction surgery that renders her unrecognizable. As Charlotte copes with her self-alienation and the trauma of the car accident that led to her surgery, the stories of other warped and unseen people thread together with her own. Worst of all is the shadowy figure plotting a catastrophic event that will change all their lives. Taut, introspective, and unwavering, Look at Me is a measured, erudite thriller from award-winning novelist Jennifer Egan.

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Look at Me
Jennifer Egan

A coolly mesmerizing intellectual thriller of identity and imposture. After surviving a car accident, supermodel Charlotte Swenson undergoes extensive surgery to reassemble her shattered face. Still beautiful but oddly unrecognizable, she becomes a virtual stranger in a world she once effortlessly occupied.

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Gone with the Wind
by Margaret Mitchell

Page Count: 1,048

A classic of monumental proportions, Gone with the Wind is a portrait of the American South during and in the aftermath of the Civil War. The winner of the 1937 Pulitzer Prize, Margaret Mitchell’s novel tells the story of southern belle Scarlett O’Hara, who faces the destruction of all that she holds dear as she attempts to survive the war. Filled with haunting scenes of a domestic world recast by violence and a thrilling romance that has captivated readers’ imaginations for decades, Mitchell’s epic is a must-read of American culture.

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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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Wild Swans
by Jung Chang

Page Count: 538

Simultaneously intimate and panoramic, Jung Chang’s Wild Swans is part memoir and part narrative history. It tells the story of three women: Chang’s mother, her grandmother, and herself. While her grandmother was kept as a warlord’s mistress, Chang’s mother was a revolutionary Communist who later faced the dark truths behind her beliefs during the Cultural Revolution. Finally, Chang herself was a Red Guard, a peasant, a doctor, and a worker, writing now to make sense of her present and ancestral identities after years of cultural upheaval.

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Wild Swans
Jung Chang

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MENTIONED IN:

10 Very Long, Very Captivating Books to Hunker Down with on Winter Nights

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By Jeanne Costello | December 2, 2015

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Every Breath You Take
by Ann Rule

Page Count: 704

Sheila Blackthorne Bellush, a happily married mother of four, was found murdered in her home. She left behind a letter asking Ann Rule, the New York Times bestselling crime writer, to tell her story if she was ever found dead. In this chilling tale of true crime, Rule relays the brutality of Sheila’s first marriage to the abusive Allen Blackthorne. As authorities attempt to link Blackthorne to the crime, Rule examines how far power and wealth can take a person in their obsession with revenge.

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Every Breath You Take
Ann Rule

America’s #1 true-crime writer fulfills a murder victim’s desperate plea with this shattering New York Times bestseller.

“If anything ever happens to me…find Ann Rule and ask her to write my story.”

In perhaps the first true-crime book written at the victim's request, Ann Rule untangles a web of lies and brutality that culminated in the murder of Sheila Blackthorne Bellush—a woman Rule never met, but whose shocking story she now chronicles with compassion, exacting detail, and unvarnished candor.

Although happily ensconced in a loving second marriage, and a new family of quadruplets, Sheila never truly escaped the vicious enslavement of her ex-husband, multi-millionaire Allen Blackthorne, a handsome charmer— and a violent, controlling sociopath who subjected Sheila to unthinkable abuse in their marriage, and terrorized her for a decade after their divorce. When Sheila was slain in her home, in the presence of her four toddlers, authorities raced to link the crime to Blackthorne, the man who vowed to monitor Sheila's every move in his obsessive quest for power and revenge.

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MENTIONED IN:

10 Very Long, Very Captivating Books to Hunker Down with on Winter Nights

By Alice Martin | January 24, 2020

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Imaginary Friend
by Stephen Chbosky

Page Count: 720

Stephen Chbosky, author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, returns with a chilling and intricately plotted tale of literary horror. Kate and Christopher have just moved to Mill Grove, a small, tight-knit community where they hope to escape Kate’s abusive ex-husband. Just as Kate begins settling into her new life, Christopher disappears without a trace. Six days later, Christopher returns, but he says that he now hears a voice that whispers things to him, and he has to listen—or else.

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Imaginary Friend
Stephen Chbosky

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MENTIONED IN:

10 Very Long, Very Captivating Books to Hunker Down with on Winter Nights

By Alice Martin | January 24, 2020

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Grant
by Ron Chernow

Page Count: 1,104

Like the best biographies, Grant takes a closer look at a famous figure in order to expose, complicate, and explode the stereotypes history has made of them. Pulitzer Prize–winning author Ron Chernow turns his attention to Union Army general Ulysses S. Grant and the various rises and falls that brought him from disgrace to the presidency to poverty to lasting legacy. A sweeping, probing portrait, Grant is the definitive biography of one of our most quintessentially American men.

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Grant
Ron Chernow

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MENTIONED IN:

10 Very Long, Very Captivating Books to Hunker Down with on Winter Nights

By Alice Martin | January 24, 2020

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City on Fire
by Garth Risk Hallberg

Page Count: 944

It’s New Year’s Eve, and there’s been a shooting in Central Park. Regan and William are heirs to a large fortune. Keith and Mercer are in love with them. Charlie and Samantha are suburban teenagers in town for a night exploring the punk scene. And, finally, a journalist and his neighbor keep popping up in their stories. To see how they are all intertwine, a detective must follow them to the dark corners of the city in this twisted, 1970s-set New York noir.

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City on Fire
Garth Risk Hallberg

The most anticipated novel of 2015, Garth Risk Hallberg’s debut fetched a huge advance, and even bigger buzz. We were able to lay our hands on an advance copy, and spoiler alert: it’s well worth the weight!.... Page Count: 944

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Photo credit: morrowlight/iStock

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