Let’s Talk Bookish: Big Books vs. Short Books: Which Do You Prefer?

This is a topic I suggested for Let’s Talk Bookish and thank you to Aria for including it!

            At the time I sent in this ideas, I was currently displeased with the page count I’d had so far in 2022. To this day, the longest book I’ve read so far this year is 504 pages and, so far, I’ve read a total of 11, 984 pages. While others might think this is impressive, I’m not entirely pleased with it. Particularly since roughly 30% of my physical TBR is 600+ page books.

            In general, do I prefer to read longer books or shorter ones? I enjoy both, but I seem to reach for the latter more often these days. This became especially true once I discovered audiobooks. There was a point I was practically reading a book a day, flying through two or three hour audiobooks of 100-200 page books.

            Turns out, it does depend on genre whether the book is big or short. For me, at least. In my opinion, big books are better for fantasy and science fiction novels. More pages allow for greater world-building and character development. Same can be said for literary fiction, nonfiction, and historical fiction, though it might depend on the amount of information needed to cover the subject matter.

            Contemporary and romance, in my opinion, do better as short books. Opposite to fantasy or science fiction, there is less world building. They also tend to follow the same beats in their plots. That said, page count of genres is subjective. Personally, I have read short fantasy books and longer contemporary books I enjoyed. And I’ve read books I in those genres I thought were too long or too short.

            Long books and short books—I like both for various reasons. Long books provide more world building and allows more time to bond with the characters. Big books also tend to have intricate plots, in order to fill up all those pages. On the flip side, big books frequently have chapters that are too long and scenes that drag. They also have a tendency to info-dump, especially in nonfiction or high fantasy novels.

            Some of my favorite long books are: Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare, The Burning God by R.F. Kuang, Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, and The House of Hades by Rick Riordan. As you can see, all of these, save one, are fantasy. When it comes to fantasy, I do not mind larger books, as I want to be as fully immersed into the world. Jane Eyre is one of the few classics I did not mind it being so long. The heroine is one of my favorites and the overall story was deeply layered.

            As for short books, they can be faster to get through and easier to read. If you are in a reading slump, they can help you get back in the swing of reading and give you the motivation to pick up another book. You can read multiple in a row, helping you get ahead in your yearly reading challenge. On the flip side, there is often not much world-building in shorter novels. There is not enough time to truly know the characters and sometimes the plots are weaker.

Which is ironic, since one of my all-time favorite short books is A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow. This is definitely the exception to the rule of weak plots and characters in other short books. The same can be said for the Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire. One of the reasons I avoided this series until last year was because they were all novellas. I had no idea how a fantasy story could be so satisfying while being so short. These books proved me wrong.

So, do I prefer short books or longer ones? It depends on the day, and the book.

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