The best long books that are worth your time

Our edit of the best big books over 600 pages, perfect for curling up with over a lazy weekend.

11/08/2020
3 minutes to read

Immersing ourselves in a good book can help us escape into another world for a few hours, or in some cases days or weeks. Big books can be daunting, but when you fall in love with a fictional world, sometimes even 600 pages or more doesn't seem enough. Here, we’ve curated our edit of the best long books and trilogies worth spending time on.

The Other Bennet Sister

by Janice Hadlow

Book cover for 9781509842025

672 pages

In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Mary is the plain, pious, overlooked middle sister. But in The Other Bennet Sister, Janice Hadlow shines a light on Mary. She’s an introvert in a family of extroverts, a disappointment to her mother and with little in common with her sisters. As she watches her sisters marry, it seems Mary is destined to be single forever. But will Mary find there is hope for her after all? This life-affirming, uplifting story of a woman finding her place in the world is a wonderfully warm and witty homage to Jane Austen.

The Mirror and the Light

by Hilary Mantel

Book cover for [object Object]

912 pages

It took eight years but the time is nigh for the finale to The Wolf Hall Trilogy. Having successfully negotiated his way through the perils of Anne Boleyn's execution, Thomas Cromwell must now face new plots from abroad and a nation spoiling for upheaval. And the ever-menacing prospect of falling out of favour with an increasingly temperamental king.

Tombland

by C. J. Sansom

Book cover for 9781447284512

880 pages

If you're wondering how to fill the Tudor-shaped hole in your life once you've (finally) finished The Mirror and the Light, you can find your fix of 16th century court intrigue and religious conflict here. The latest instalment in C. J. Sansom’s bestselling Shardlake series begins two years after the death of Henry VIII and sees tenacious lawyer Matthew Shardlake investigate a string of murders while navigating the chaos and rebellion rampant in the wake of King Edward VI's succession.

The Catholic School

by Edoardo Albinati

Book cover for 9781509856299

1280 pages

This immersive novel creates a world of power, sex and violence, addressing issues of religion, family and masculinity. The Catholic School is based on the true story of the brutal rape and murder of two young women by three well-off young men who were former students of Rome's prestigious all-boys school, San Leone Magno, where the story is set. The case, which became known as the Circeo massacre, shocked the whole of Italy, exposing the dark underside of the country’s upper middle class.

Homeland

by Fernando Aramburu

Book cover for 9781509858026

608 pages

This gripping epic novel follows the lives of best friends Miren and Bittori as they grow up and raise their families together in a small town in the north of Spain. Their lives are seemingly unaffected by the fraught politics of the region, until Bittori’s husband begins receiving threats from the terrorist organisation ETA, the same group which has recruited Miren’s son Joxe Mari. 

A Little Life

by Hanya Yanagihara

Book cover for 9781447294832

736 pages

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, A Little Life is an immensely powerful and heartbreaking novel of love, friendship and the limits of human endurance. Essential reading.

Underworld

by Don DeLillo

Book cover for 9781447289395

832 pages

DeLillo offers a panoramic vision of America defined by the overarching conflict of the Cold War in this masterful and awe-inspiring story of a search for meaning, survival and connection in the toughest of times.

The Luminaries

by Eleanor Catton

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848 pages

The second novel from Eleanor Catton and winner of the Man Booker Prize, The Luminaries is a gripping mystery set in the 1800s which was described by The Observer as 'a dazzling feat of a novel'.

The Patrick Melrose Novels

by Edward St Aubyn

Book cover for 9781447253525

880 pages

Acclaimed for their wit and humanity, this magnificent series of novels  in which Patrick Melrose battles to survive the savageries of his childhood and lead a self-determined life  is one of the most important literary achievements of our time.

The Goldfinch

by Donna Tartt

Book cover for [object Object]

880 pages

Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Goldfinch is an odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling power that combines unforgettably vivid characters with thrilling suspense.

Middlemarch

by George Eliot

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904 pages

Lauded by many critics as the finest novel in English, Middlemarch provides a complex look at English provincial life at a crucial historical moment and contains an exploration of some of the most potent myths of Victorian literature.

2666

by Roberto Bolaño

Book cover for 9781447289593

912 pages

Considered a sensation on publication and hailed across the world as a masterpiece, 2666 is a terrifying and awe-inspiring classic novel that has come to define one of Latin America's greatest writers.

The Border Trilogy

by Cormac McCarthy

Book cover for 9781509852024

1056 pages

Cormac McCarthy’s award-winning, bestselling trio of novels chronicles the coming-of-age of two young men in the south west of America and stands as a fierce elegy for the American frontier. All the Pretty HorsesThe Crossing and Cities of the Plain are beautiful and brutal stories filled with sorrow and humour.

Infinite Jest

by David Foster Wallace

Book cover for [object Object]

1100 pages

Touching on topics such as addiction, recovery, tennis and even Quebec separatism, Foster Wallace’s encyclopaedic bestseller is considered one of the best novels ever published.

The Pillars of the Earth

by Ken Follett

Book cover for 9781509848492

1104 pages

A spellbinding epic tale of ambition, anarchy, and absolute power set against the sprawling medieval canvas of twelfth-century England, The Pillars of the Earth is Ken Follett's classic historical masterpiece.

Anna Karenina

by Leo Tolstoy

Book cover for 9781509827787

1136 pages

A masterpiece of realism and illuminated by irresistible characters, Anna Karenina is among the best-loved of all novels, penetrating to the heart of the ruling class in Tsarist Russia.

The Man Without Qualities

by Robert Musil

Book cover for 9781447289432

1152 pages

Set in 1913, surrounding the seventieth jubilee of the accession of Emperor Franz Josef in Austria, The Man Without Qualities is part satire, part visionary epic and part intellectual tour de force.

1Q84: Books 1, 2 and 3

by Haruki Murakami

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1328 pages

Weighing in at a staggering 1328 pages, Murakami’s dystopian trilogy 1Q84 features a plot built around a mystical cult and two long-lost lovers who are drawn into a distorted version of reality.

A Suitable Boy

by Vikram Seth

Book cover for [object Object]

1504 pages

At its core, a love story: the tale of Lata - and her mother's - attempts to find her a suitable husband. At the same time, it is the story of India, newly independent and struggling through a time of crisis as a sixth of the world's population faces its first chance to map its own destiny.

 

In this episode of Book Break, Emma shares some of her favourite big books: