Monday, June 6, 2011

Judging A Book By Its Page Count

I'm always highly resistant to starting a book that has more than 400 pages to it. I like to take my time with reading, so when I see a book with 900 pages between its covers, I automatically think "This book is a massive project that will keep me from enjoying other books for MONTHS." You see, I'm not one to jump between different books while reading. I commit myself to one and see it through to the end before starting up a new one. (If it's good, that is. If the writing doesn't grab me after the first couple chapters - or scares the crap out of me, like Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves did - I don't care if it has a great ending, I'm going to put it down and move on.) A long book, to me, is worse than a long movie. I can sit still for a long movie if it's good. I don't know if I can say the same for a long book.

My beloved, however, gave me this piece of literary wisdom: "Large books aren't a big deal. There's just that much more to read!" I had to sleep on that to wrap my brain around it, but she has a point. There are some books I've read that I wanted to be longer. Much longer. The last Harry Potter book, which is sizable already, could have been longer and I would have been perfectly fine with that. Same for most of my favorite writers. And the large book I'm presently faced with, Anathem, is written by one of those favorite writers of mine, Neal Stephenson. So why am I having such a hard time starting this up?

I could give a list of reasons, all of which would be a smokescreen for the fact that simply looking at the book makes me want to pick up my Highlander prop replica katana and cut it in half. That would not be nice to do to a borrowed book, though, especially since my beloved's father loaned it to me and I'd like to stay on her family's good side. The thing is, if my imagination is so vivid that I can imagine cutting that page count by half, why can't I simply alter my mode of thinking and pretend that each page is a unit of measurement that represents my enjoyment of the book?

So I did. And let me tell you, I have no problem picking up that weighty tome now.

What's your take on the page count issue? Is it something that you take into account when choosing a book to read, or is it a non-issue to you? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

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