Let’s face it: we have a lot more time on our hands now that social distancing has become the new normal. If there is one upside to this situation, it’s that you finally have the time to read those long, intimidating books that have been sitting on your bookshelf collecting dust for who knows how long. If you’re looking for inspiration to conquer a lengthier book, check out these recommendations for the best long books to dive into during your spare time.
As a self-proclaimed history nerd, this book is at the top of my TBR list. Winner of the Lincoln Prize and the Pulitzer Prize, and declared “a remarkable study in leadership” by President Barack Obama, Goodwin’s 916-page biography depicts Abraham Lincoln’s rise from an Illinois lawyer to President of the United States, uniting his rivals along the way to create his presidential cabinet. If you want to further immerse yourself in the world of Lincoln, and witness an unbelievable performance from Daniel Day-Lewis, make sure to watch Lincoln, the Steven Spielberg film inspired by Team of Rivals.
Winner of the Lincoln Prize
Acclaimed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin illuminates Abraham Lincoln's political genius in this highly original work, as the one-term congressman and prairie lawyer rises from obscurity to prevail over three gifted rivals of national reputation to become president.
On May 18, 1860, William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, Edward Bates, and Abraham Lincoln waited in their hometowns for the results from the Republican National Convention in Chicago. When Lincoln emerged as the victor, his rivals were dismayed and angry.
Throughout the turbulent 1850s, each had energetically sought the presidency as the conflict over slavery was leading inexorably to secession and civil war. That Lincoln succeeded, Goodwin demonstrates, was the result of a character that had been forged by experiences that raised him above his more privileged and accomplished rivals. He won because he possessed an extraordinary ability to put himself in the place of other men, to experience what they were feeling, to understand their motives and desires.
It was this capacity that enabled Lincoln as president to bring his disgruntled opponents together, create the most unusual cabinet in history, and marshal their talents to the task of preserving the Union and winning the war.
We view the long, horrifying struggle from the vantage of the White House as Lincoln copes with incompetent generals, hostile congressmen, and his raucous cabinet. He overcomes these obstacles by winning the respect of his former competitors, and in the case of Seward, finds a loyal and crucial friend to see him through.
This brilliant multiple biography is centered on Lincoln's mastery of men and how it shaped the most significant presidency in the nation's history.
If you’re a fan of thrillers, what better author is there to read right now than Stephen King? At 1,184 pages, this classic horror story of seven adults confronting a child-murdering monster living in the sewers of their hometown will keep you engrossed for days (and likely spark a fear of clowns).
It: Chapter Two—soon to be a major motion picture in 2019!
Stephen King’s terrifying, classic #1 New York Times bestseller, “a landmark in American literature” (Chicago Sun-Times)—about seven adults who return to their hometown to confront a nightmare they had first stumbled on as teenagers…an evil without a name: It.
Welcome to Derry, Maine. It’s a small city, a place as hauntingly familiar as your own hometown. Only in Derry the haunting is real.
They were seven teenagers when they first stumbled upon the horror. Now they are grown-up men and women who have gone out into the big world to gain success and happiness. But the promise they made twenty-eight years ago calls them reunite in the same place where, as teenagers, they battled an evil creature that preyed on the city’s children. Now, children are being murdered again and their repressed memories of that terrifying summer return as they prepare to once again battle the monster lurking in Derry’s sewers.
Readers of Stephen King know that Derry, Maine, is a place with a deep, dark hold on the author. It reappears in many of his books, including Bag of Bones, Hearts in Atlantis, and 11/22/63. But it all starts with It.
“Stephen King’s most mature work” (St. Petersburg Times), “It will overwhelm you…to be read in a well-lit room only” (Los Angeles Times).
Mix philosophy and comedy with an addicts’ halfway home and a tennis academy. Then, throw in an unorthodox narrative structure filled to the brim with endnotes. INFINITE JEST is David Foster Wallace’s unforgettable magnum opus. There are infinite (pun intended) things I can say about this book, but for the sake of time I will provide three fun facts:
- INFINITE JEST is already lengthy at 1,100 pages but it used to be 600 pages longer before it was edited down (The Guardian).
- David Foster Wallace proofread the book while watching the film Beethoven (the one with the St. Bernard) on a loop (The Guardian).
- There’s a website called Brick Jest which recreated key scenes from the book with Legos (The Guardian, Brick Jest).
Chances are, you’ve binged the Emmy-winning show based on this book (and had mixed feelings about the final season). Now that the show has come to an end, it’s the perfect time to revisit its source material: an over 700-page fantasy epic set in the immersive, ever-changing world of Westeros, filled with rival families, epic battles, treachery, and dragons.
Winner of the National Book Award for Fiction (Goodreads), THE CORRECTIONS is a compelling, 653-page commentary about the state of American society. Franzen achieves this through strong character development via the Lamberts, a dysfunctional, Midwestern family featuring a workaholic father suffering from Parkinson’s, three grown children attempting to wrestle with emotional issues and the consequences of their own actions, and a neurotic mother whose one wish is to bring the whole family together for Christmas one last time.
The Corrections is a grandly entertaining novel for the new century--a comic, tragic masterpiece about a family breaking down in an age of easy fixes. After almost fifty years as a wife and mother, Enid Lambert is ready to have some fun. Unfortunately, her husband, Alfred, is losing his sanity to Parkinson's disease, and their children have long since flown the family nest to the catastrophes of their own lives. The oldest, Gary, a once-stable portfolio manager and family man, is trying to convince his wife and himself, despite clear signs to the contrary, that he is not clinically depressed. The middle child, Chip, has lost his seemingly secure academic job and is failing specatcularly at his new line of work. And Denise, the youngest, has escaped a disastrous marriage only to pour her youth and beauty down the drain on an affair with a married man--or so her mother fears. Desperate for some pleasure to look forward to. Enid has set her heart on an elusive goal: bringing her family together for one last Christmas at home.Stretching from the Midwest at midcentury to the Wall Street and Eastern Europe of today, The Corrections brings an old-fashioned world of civic virtue and sexual inhibitions into violent collision with the era of home surveillance, hands-off parenting, do-it-yourself mental health care, and globalized greed. Richly realistic, darkly hilarious, deeply humane, it confirms Jonathan Franzen as one of our most brilliant interpreters of American society and the American soul.
Described as “deeply moving” by NPR and “astonishing” by The Atlantic, A LITTLE LIFE is a heavy, gripping story depicting the friendship between four men as they struggle to reconcile with addiction, love, and trauma. Winner of the Kirkus Prize for Fiction, Yanagihara’s 720-page novel will make you grieve for the plights of its expertly written characters.
I’m not exaggerating at all when I say I cried for 700 pages of this 832-page masterpiece. I have never loved a character more deeply than I love Jude, the main character in this ode to male friendship, who is scarred and broken from an unspeakable trauma. Reading about Jude’s ever-changing relationships with his three best friends from college was one of the best experiences I’ve had as a reader—and certainly as a crier.
At 400 pages, ANIMAL’S PEOPLE is the shortest of the lengthy books on this list. However, it has all of the elements necessary for a compelling read: a nontraditional, memorable narrator, a multifaceted glance at corruption and transnationalism, and the potential pitfalls of social justice efforts. Most of all, it’s an honest discussion of what it means to be human.
In this Booker-shortlisted novel, Indra Sinha’s profane, furious, and scathingly funny narrator delivers an unflinching look at what it means to be human.
I used to be human once. So I’m told. I don’t remember it myself, but people who knew me when I was small say I walked on two feet, just like a human being...
Ever since he can remember, Animal has gone on all fours, his back twisted beyond repair by the catastrophic events of “that night” when a burning fog of poison smoke from the local factory blazed out over the town of Khaufpur, and the Apocalypse visited his slums. Now just turned seventeen and well schooled in street work, he lives by his wits, spending his days jamisponding (spying) on town officials and looking after the elderly nun who raised him, Ma Franci. His nights are spent fantasizing about Nisha, the girlfriend of the local resistance leader, and wondering what it must be like to get laid.
When Elli Barber, a young American doctor, arrives in Khaufpur to open a free clinic for the still suffering townsfolk—only to find herself struggling to convince them that she isn’t there to do the dirty work of the Kampani—Animal gets caught up in a web of intrigues, scams, and plots with the unabashed aim of turning events to his own advantage.
Profane, piercingly honest, and scathingly funny, Animal’s People illuminates a dark world shot through with flashes of joy and lunacy. A stunning tale of an unforgettable character, it is an unflinching look at what it means to be human: the wounds that never heal and a spirit that will not be quenched.
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