Leaves are falling from the trees and a crisp autumn breeze is in the air. (Well, maybe not so much in Texas, but I’m sure this is happening in other places!) Cold weather is headed our way as are the holidays, and what better way is there to take a break from planning and eating and shopping than to cozy up in you favorite nook with a warm blanket and a good book? With every passing day we have fewer minutes of daylight, stretching out the evenings and making this the best time of year to lose yourself in a long read. There are so many great choices, but here are my favorites:
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami – 925 pgs.
This is the first book I read by Murakami, and I devoured it. It’s 1982 in Tokyo, and something doesn’t seem right. Aomame notices that little things have changed in the world, and realizes she has somehow crossed into a parallel dimension. Tengo is a writer whose work leads him into a strange situation. They lead separate lives that are also fatefully intertwined. I know, that’s not much to go on. Trust me when I say this book will mesmerize you with graceful storytelling, vivid details, and creative oddities. It’s fantastic.
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton – 848 pgs.
This book won the Man Booker Prize for fiction in 2013, so you know it’s an elaborate work like no other. The story takes place in 1866 during the gold rush in New Zealand and kicks off with 12 men coming together in secret to discuss some mysterious happenings with which they all seem to be connected. The conversations are so detailed and intricate, that I felt like I was watching them play out in my head like a movie. It’s rich in history, culture, and character.
Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett – 973 pgs.
This was my first ambitious read after I graduated college and could once again read for pleasure, and I never regretted it for a second. It’s a historical epic centered around the construction of a cathedral in the 12th century. The characters are vivid and grand, and you’ll lose yourself in the story fast, becoming invested in the lives of everyone involved. This is the first in a series, the most recent of which was just released this year. (Side note: Follett’s Century Trilogy is also astounding and also very long.)
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – 771 pgs.
This book won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and it was well deserved. I fell in love with this book when I read it, so much that I may read it again, which is something I never do. Theo survives a tragic incident that leaves him alienated from his family and alone. Swept into a world for the wealthy, he becomes best friends with the wild and intriguing Boris who flits in and out of Theo’s life as Theo struggles to find his place in the world, to decide who he wants to be, and to let go of the keepsake that keeps him holding on to the tragedy of his childhood. It’s a beautiful ride.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – 850 pgs.
Ah, the famous Outlander. A nurse in 1945 accidently falls into a time portal while on vacation and finds herself in Scotland 1743. I had low expectations for this book and only read it as a favor to a friend. It was one of the best favors I have ever done! Gabaldon leaves no stone left unturned. Her writing is captivating and thorough, and anything that could possibly happen in this book, happens. It is wild, intense, violent, sexy, and intriguing. What else could you want? Also, the chapters are very episodic, so it’s an easy reading experience.
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry – 945 pgs.
This is officially one of my favorite books of all time. I read it for the first time this year and wished I had read it sooner. It filled a reading hole in my heart I didn’t even know I had. In this the final book in a series of four (you don’t have to have read the others), ex-rangers Call and McCray with the help of their hired hands decide to do a cattle run from the Texas border through the wild lawless country of America into the mountains of Nebraska where there is uninhabited land aplenty. It’s stark and riveting, funny and melancholy. It feels like it’s real.
Give one of these long books a chance! Trust me – you won’t be disappointed.