"You can never have a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me."- C.S. Lewis
Many FRVPLD community members, both staff and patrons alike, have a bit more time on their hands lately. What better time than now to power through some lengthier books to which you could never commit the time before? The books on this list are at least 500 pages long (there might be one or two just under the 500 mark, but I made the rules, so I’m allowed to break them). At this point in your life, I’m guessing you’ve probably already made a decision about whether you care about ever reading Moby Dick or Middlemarch, so I’m not listing “classics” or books on the typical school list.
The following novels can all be found on one or more of our e-resources (Hoopla, Overdrive, and Axis 360). If there's a hold list on one source, see if it's available with no wait on another!
The Stand by Stephen King- Due to current events, this one's been getting a lot of love lately. The plot centers around a flu pandemic that wipes out most of the world's population, with survivors trying to recreate social structures. Two powerful leaders take opposing viewpoints on how to move forward, and the survivors must choose with whom they stand.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon- Two teenage cousins, one a refugee from Hitler's Europe and the other a native Brooklynite, bond and develop complementary creative skills, eventually building a comic book empire together. A dual coming of age novel, many of the events are based on the lives of real-life comic creators.
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova- Set in the 1930s, 1950s, and1970s, the story follows an unnamed historian, her father, and his mentor as they search for Dracula across the world at separate times. Mixing history and folklore, this story is a slow burn for those who like an eerie atmosphere, archives, and libraries.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt- 13-year old Theo survives a musuem explosion that kills his mother. Overcome with both grief and guilt, he is drawn to a painting of a goldfinch that reminds him of his last moments with her. Thrust into unusual circumstances, Theo continuously reinvents himself, clinging to art as part of his identity, and ends up drawn further and further into the underworld of art.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman- Shadow Moon is released from prison and soon meets a con man named Mr. Wednesday, who offers Shadow a position as his bodyguard while he undertakes a mysterious journey across America. Shadow figures out that he has unwittingly been mixed up in Wednesday's mission to gather the Old Gods to try to fight against the New American Gods who are depleting their powers. (Links are for the 10-year anniversary edition, featuring the author's preferred text. The original release edition is also available.)
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara- The novel follows four friends from college graduation to middle age as they each obtain success in their chosen fields. It sounds like a traditional coming of age tale, but be warned that this novel deals with extremely heavy topics and is not a feel good story. Dealing with abuse, self-harm, addiction, and more, some readers give it their vote for the most depressing novel ever written. But there is beauty in the strength of the relationships portrayed between the friends.
The Witch Elm by Tana French- French's first standalone novel, the story picks up after narrator Toby is beaten to the brink of death and struggles through recovery, both physical and mental. The former golden boy goes to stay with his uncle at the family ancestral home. While he reconnects with family, a human skull is unearthed from the Witch Elm tree on the property, beginning Toby's quest to recover memories from his youth and discover the fate of the victim in the tree.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie- Young lovers escape the military dictatorship in Nigeria, but are separated due to circumstances beyond their control. Ifemelu ends up in America, where as an academic she struggles with being treated differently as "black" for the first time. Obinze eventually ends up an undocumented immigrant in London, with all the struggles inherent in that position. The two later reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria and wonder if they can reconnect after drastically different life experiences.
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern- A labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories resides under the earth in the Starless Sea, with doors awaiting every individual's entry. Zachary Ezra Rawlins doesn't realize he is searching for his door, but a strange book discovered in his campus library grants him the knowledge that he is meant for another place, and his journey begins.
The Parisian by Isabella Hammad- In the aftermath of WWI, a young Palestinian man makes his way through the Middle East into Europe, stumbling into a restless Paris, where he learns the positive and negative sides of love and friendship. Personal tragedies are interwoven with a backdrop of the world's polticial turbulence of the era.
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles- Count Alexander Rostov, an "unrepentant aristocrat", is sentenced to house arrest in an attic room in the Metropol hotel by a Bolshevik tribunal. In his reduced circumstances, he watches some of the most tumultuous times in Russian history unfold outside the hotel. Observing the world change makes Rostov examine his worldview and discover a greater emotional understanding.
Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra- The novel follows two parallel tracks, taking the reader through the criminal underground of 80s and 90s Mumbai and a modern day hunt relating to a gangster's death. Sacred Games mixes elements of mysteries, thrillers, social novels, Bollywood films, as well as research and the author's personal experience of modern day Mumbai.
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke- Magic once existed in England, but died out and is now studied by "theoretical magicians". Mr. Norrell brings magic back in the practical sense, with physical manifestations. Jonathan Strange becomes both Norrell's pupil and rival as they explore different sides of how they believe magic should be used.
Underworld by Don DeLillo- DeLillo captures the history and culture of Cold War America in non-linear stories featuring a wide variety of characters. Historical events shape their lives over the course of decades, with a baseball (the one Bobby Thomson hit off Ralph Brana known as "the shot heard 'round the world") passing amongst them and linking their stories.
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell- An ambitious story broken into 12 parts (2 parts for each of the 6 tales). Each separate story is written as a different genre, but with some point linking it to the other stories. Questions of reality and identity are found throughout the novel that travels through time and location before eventually bringing the reader back to the starting point.