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Biblio File

20 Knock-Your-Socks-Off Novels Over 500 Pages


Moby Dick, Ada, and Garivity's Rainbow

Recently, Flavorwire posted 50 Incredible Novels Under 200 Pages. These novels suggest the power of language to evoke entire worlds with brevity and precision. Sometimes, however, you're looking for a book in which you can stretch your legs out and stay a while. For these instances, set aside some space in your bag for 20 knock-your-socks-off novels over 500 pages.

The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro
A pianist accrues clues to his past in this enigmatic literary thriller.

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
"Frankly, my dear," you should give a damn about this sprawling Civil War classic.

Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson
The author of Jesus' Son takes on Vietnam-era CIA.

Them by Joyce Carol Oates
The National Book Award-winning third novel of Oates' Wonderland Quartet covers three decades of slumming in Detroit.

The Wings of the Dove by Henry James
A couple conspires to seduce a sick American girl for her riches.

Ada, Or, Ardor, A Family Chronicle by Vladimir Nabokov
The title says it all: word play and linguistic filigree of the highest order.

Mortals by Norman Rush
No one does Botswana — or a sentence — like Norman Rush.

Native Son by Richard Wright
Bigger (Thomas) is better in Wright's seminal novel Native Son.

Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
Want to know what a Schwarzgerät is? Then read the book.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
A beautiful woman, a train, a trainwreck. You know how this one ends.

The Making of Americans by Gertrude Stein
In Stein's hands, the glue that holds together a family drama is writing about writing.

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
There are a lot of fruitless endeavors in the war that is Okies v. Dust Bowl.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt
An erudite group of budding intellectuals has something to hide, and it may just be a dead body.

The Shape of Things to Come by H.G. Wells
Wells imagines life from 1933 to 2106. 

Letting Go by Philip Roth
Any bibliophile will appreciate a book in which a major plot point involves a letter being left in a copy of The Portrait of a Lady.

Middlemarch by George Eliot
An extraordinary book about marrying a dud.

Underworld by Don DeLillo
A DeLillo sentence is taut, energetic, and intelligent, so think about what happens when DeLillo's sentences reach the length of a novel.

Moby Dick by Herman Melville
This epic of whale proportions is perhaps the best American novel about the madness of dreams.

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Bro out intellectually with this novel of ideas.

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
Entertainment looms a frightening shadow even over footnotes in DFW's neo-classic tome.

Did we miss a title? Share your suggestions below.


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I was surprised not to see this

Great Novels over 500 pages

The Forsyte Saga (if you find one book with all three novels like this one is over 800 pages. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon is over 800 pages (and subsequent novels in the same series are similarly large). Not really considered classic lit like some of these are, but just as great.

A recent great

The Traymore Rooms by Norm Sibum

How about...

Portrait of a Lady by Henry James is mentioned in that annotation but worthy of a slot in its own right. And though I admit to loving Anna Karenina more than War and Peace (can never really read the war bits) have to add it as well. Currently reading and loving The Outlander-great addition!

I've got three suggestions!

I am currently reading " A Suitable Boy" by Vikram Seth. It's a hefty novel to say the absolute least but it is oh so worth it. If you want to curl up, block out the white noise of friends and family for a while and just get lost, I highly suggest this brilliantly written novel. I also suggest "And Ladies of the Club" by Helen Hooven Santmyer. This novel is a wonderful summer read, well over 500 pages and spans several decades as you follow the vibrant members of a women's club in Ohio. This is a fun and fascinating book. Lastly, I would like to suggest the novel "Clarissa: The History of a Young Lady" by Samuel Richardson. It is a very old novel, written in the 1700's and it is an epistolary one. If you love writing and receiving letters in this age of technology as much as I do, you are going to love this novel. Happy Reading!

Can't forget this Fantasy classic

Lord of the Rings, of course!

Sacred Hunger

"Sacred Hunger" by Barry Unsworth. Love his rich, expressive writing style. It shared the Booker Prize in 1992 with Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient.



Makioka Sisters

Masterpiece by Junichiro Tanizaki.

Angle of Repose. Is it more

Angle of Repose. Is it more than 500 pages?

Robert Graves'...

"I, Claudius" with "Claudius the God: And His Wife Messalina" would come in at a kilopage. Just right for a rained-out vacation! Better take them along, just in case.

novels over 500 pages

Bleak House. Dickens revenge against lawyers but a great story with wonderful characters

Many Stephen King novels are

Many Stephen King novels are over the 500 page mark, but the main one that should be on here is "The Stand."

How could you forget Possession?

AS Byatt's masterpiece, Possession, weaving together two time periods and three literary genres.

Shōgun, by James Clavell

Actually stopped reading about 100 pages before the end, and let it sit for a month or so until I picked it up again and finished it, that's how much I hated to see it end.

More Fantasy Books Please

The later Harry Potter books. The Wise Man's Fear. Most of Robin Hobb's amazing books are over 500 pages. George R. R. Martin's books. And, frankly, I think we should call "The Lord of the Rings" an amazing book over 500 pages.

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