I’m trying something new. I watch a lot of “booktubers”, and I often find that I do have things to say when they make discussion videos. But I don’t make videos. So when I want to have a wordy response, I’ll write it up over here with the video embedded so you guys can see what prompted me to talk.
In this case, the discussion video comes from WordsofaReader, and she’s talking about book length. How does book length affect your reading choices?
I haven’t always been a strong reader. The first reason for that being that I learned to read using whole language, not phonics. Which any teacher of young children will tell you is much harder, because it involves memorizing words rather than sounding them out. My younger years became a struggle with getting through even the easiest of books.
But that’s not the only reason. I had a lot of trouble finding books I enjoyed. If you’ve been following me, you’ll note that I read a lot of genre books: science fiction, fantasy, horror, so on. This is going to make me sound so very old, but when I was a kid, we didn’t have Harry Potter. Young Adult and Middle Grade were not genres many people cared about. I had Narnia. And that was about it. And even then, I found those books difficult to read, because they weren’t written in a way that is easily accessible to a reader of my skill level at the time.
Fast forward to me discovering Goosebumps, and suddenly everything changed. Then a couple of years later, thanks to a friend, I graduated to Stephen King, and everything changed again.
Told that long-winded story because, yes, book length still haunts me. There was a time when reading a 300 page book could take me a month. I still remember how determined I was to read Stephen King’s It, which if you don’t know is a real whopper. It took me almost a year. Nowadays, I could read a book like that in a couple of weeks. But it’s hard for me to shake the memory of that girl who spent a year reading nothing but this enormous tome.
Now I participate in 50 book reading challenges. Now I blog about books and write reviews. And my skewed perspective of remembering the girl who struggled to get through It makes me wary of choosing books that are going to wreck my challenge or make it so there won’t be a review on my blog for ages.
On the other hand, if I want to read a 1,000 page book, I will. Intimidation is one thing. Giving in to it is another. I sometimes wonder if I don’t go for shorter books out of simple subconscious behavior, but I don’t believe in putting off books I want to read just because they’re long. I understand the dread that people feel, because I’ve been there. But at the risk of sounding corny, limiting yourself based on a page number means you could be missing out on something incredible.
I notice that a lot of readers are scared of long books. As someone who has read a lot of long books (a Stephen King fan is going to have to read a long one eventually), I can say that you’ll feel better if you go for it. You’ll feel accomplished, even if it takes you a year. Because as much as I can sit around and say, “guh, that took me a YEAR!”, I still did it. I conquered that bastard. So what is it they say about bravery? Do it scared. Yeah, definitely. I know I felt better.
As for if you’re a blogger, and you’re worried about people waiting on you while you read this long-ass epic… It should always be about your joy. It should never be a chore. If people are badgering you to hurry up, then they don’t belong on your blog or channel or site. Reading is about your personal enjoyment and edification. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.