Discuss: The ‘Doorstop Novel’


For many, summer can be a time to let loose and forget your worries/troubles/responsibilities. We all have a certain degree of that in us. But readers are a different breed in many ways. Readers — and writers, for that matter — often take on challenges that seem ridiculous and insurmountable to others. So when summer rolls around, you may find yourself wanting to tackle that 500-page book that’s been staring you down all semester. With no school work to stand in your way, the prospect of reading such a long work just for pleasure can be exhilarating. I recently found a list of what the list writers called ‘doorstop novels‘ — novels so large that they could potentially be used to hold open your door.

The list contains both old and new books, ranging from horror to fantasy to mainstream fiction. It looks like the shortest novel on their list is ‘Child 44’ by Tom Rob Smith, which stands at a mere 439 pages. The longest novel on their list is Ken Follett’s ‘Fall of Giants’ at a whopping 985 pages. It’s easy to be intimidated by books with such long page counts. There is the possibility of failure, of course, of not being able to care about a story for that long or of just not being grabbed by the style. But sometimes everything clicks into place and before you know it, you’re halfway through! Which, in the case of ‘Fall of Giants,’ would be page 492 or thereabouts. There’s something magnificent about stepping back and realizing that you’ve gone through that many pages. Once you reach that halfway mark, there’s no stopping you.

Recent doorstop reads of mine have been ‘The Corrections’ and ‘Freedom,’ both by Jonathan Franzen. I’d heard so much hype about both novels that I wanted to give them a try. They were both upwards of 500 pages and I was worried about beginning them. But they went so quickly — ‘The Corrections,’ especially — that it turned out the page count wasn’t daunting at all. It just meant more story to devour. Another great doorstop read is Michael Chabon’s ‘The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.’ I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that is one of the most flawless novels I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. And it stands at a formidable 639 pages.

What is your favorite doorstop novel? Is there one you’ve been meaning to tackle? Is there one that you re-read despite its doorstop status? Let us know in the comments!

— Jet Fuel Editor, Mary Egan


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