Binge-watching is easy; just drag the laptop into bed and go. But savoring a book of, say, 800 pages or longer is a project. No book that size is perfect, because excess is kind of the point. What marathon runner doesn’t curse the universe or even get bored once in a while? That doesn’t negate the rush of endorphins or the thrill of mastery. If you power down your iPhone and power through to the end, one of these books might change your life.
Body & Soul tells the story of Claude Rawlings, a piano prodigy discovered by chance as a six-year-old on his lonely wanderings through New York. Left largely to himself while his mother drives a taxi, Claude picks out tunes on a piano and befriends the owner of a music store. His genius propels him to fame and riches–and eventually into a crisis of creativity and obsession common with brilliant artists. It’s been a number of years since I read this, but I remember it as sweeping and completely immersive (and at 450 pages, it’s not as long as the others on this list). Read More.
Set in Tokyo, Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 is one of the strangest and most compelling books I’ve ever read. Between the two moons that suddenly appear in the sky, the small people that creep into rooms at night, and the tangled web of connections leading to–among other things–a cult and a philanthropic dowager–it doesn’t seem like this story should work. But somehow it does. At the heart of it are Aomame and Tengo, who are brought together through a series of strange circumstances that lead them to believe they are living in a parallel existence. Very long, strange, and difficult to summarize, this book is a commitment. But you’ll keep turning the pages just to find out what outlandish thing happens next. Read More.
When Theo Decker survives an explosion at the museum, his life is forever changed. His mother is killed, setting Theo on a journey to several homes and a rootless existence. Complicating Theo’s sense of disquiet is his secret: in the confusion of the blast, he took a priceless painting that he carries with him through the years. When he finally finds a sense of home and belonging in an antiques business, Theo’s secret could be his undoing. Tartt’s book won the Pulitzer Prize and I found it just as compelling as The Secret History. Read More.