This is it, fellow readers. This is the year that you finally finish that book that you've been using as a doorstop. This is the year that you stop lying to everyone about how far you got in Infinite Jest. This is the year that your whole life changes for the better (OK, I can't promise that, but I do think that these books are worth the time). Here are a few long books to finish before the end of the year, because I know that you can do it.
Reading a long book is sort of like entering into a serious relationship. It's a commitment. It's going to take time and energy, and you're not going to enjoy every moment of it. You'll probably be sad when it ends. But ultimately, you'll be glad that you made it all the way through, because now you can go back to using that book as a doorstop/step stool/nightstand without any vague feelings of guilt.
Don't let a high page count scare you. I mean, sure, if you're really not getting into it, put the book down and move on with your life. I won't tell. But if you put in the time, each of these books is well worth the read. And you'll feel incredibly accomplished when you reach that final page:
1'Don Quixote' by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
Clocking in at 1023 pages, Don Quixote is not exactly a breezy read. But there's a reason that the madcap adventures of "knight errant" Don Quixote and his faithful squire, Sancho Panza, have stood the test of time. Our two heroes might spend their time tilting at windmills and LARPing around on various quests, but the result is a timeless novel that is equal parts funny, fantastical, and profound.
2'1Q84' by Haruki Murakami
After getting an odd suggestion from a taxi driver, a young woman begins to realize that she is living in a parallel universe (you know how it is). Plus there's a ghostwriter, a cult, an ugly private eye, and a television-fee collector. 1Q84 is so utterly strange and engrossing that you'll forget its length entirely and become wrapped up in this romance/mystery/sci-fi masterpiece.
3'Almanac of the Dead' by Leslie Marmon Silko
C'mon, this one's under 800 pages! Almanac of the Dead is a beautifully crafted, sweeping epic set in the American Southwest and Central America. Through multiple story lines, Silko tackles modern mythology, personal identity, and the gut-wrenching violence of colonialism. It's truly a tremendous, multi-layered narrative, and well worth your time.
4'Les Misérables' by Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo is a little bit like your uncle, who you love dearly, and who has all these amazing stories, but he just keeps getting sidetracked and giving you several hundred pages of backstory on tertiary characters. If you can muscle through all the irrelevant exposition, you'll find that Les Misérables is a gorgeous, universal story about love, systemic poverty, and the necessity of human rights.
5'Midnight's Children' by Salman Rushdie
1,001 children are born at the stroke of midnight, at the very moment of India's independence. These children all have their own special gifts, and their fate is tied to the triumphs and tragedies of their country. Rushdie is infamous for his ability to beat around the literary bush, but Midnight's Children is a humorous, devastating, occasionally frustrating, glorious read all the same.
6'The Luminaries' by Eleanor Catton
Do you like the Zodiac? How about New Zealand? How about gold, ghost stories, and enormous fortunes? The Luminaries is a gripping page-turner (even if there are quite a few pages to turn), and it's structured to echo the geography of the night sky. I can't explain it. You'll just have to read it.
7'Alexander Hamilton' by Ron Chernow
Add this one and Les Misérables to your pile of "very long books that inspired very popular musicals." Even if you don't think that lengthy biographies are your jam, try Chernow's Alexander Hamilton on for size. It's a thrilling, scrappy story that will forever change the way you look at ten dollar bills.
8'The Goldfinch' by Donna Tartt
I have decided that this is the year you cross The Goldfinch off of your TBR list. This is the year you finally read that copy of The Goldfinch that's been lurking on your nightstand for months now. Because The Goldfinch is a mesmerizing, suspenseful story about orphans and art thieves and love and all that good stuff. The 771 pages fly by, I promise. You'll love it.
9'Middlesex' by Jeffrey Eugenides
Middlesex is the story of Calliope Stephanides. But it is also the story of Calliope's family, and their journey from a village near Mount Olympus to the suburbs of Detroit, and about American identity, and about Calliope becoming Cal. In this relatively short "long book," Jeffrey Eugenides explores the construct of gender and creates one of the most compelling characters in modern literature.
10'The Once and Future King' by T.H. White
Look, I mean, read Infinite Jest or Ulysses if you're looking for a lengthy literary challenge that'll impress that cute English major who lives in your building. They're both worth reading. But if you're looking for more of a heartbreaking, witty, and a little bit weird retelling of the King Arthur legend (in which Lancelot is very clearly in love with Arthur), then read The Once and Future King. T. H. White's classic novel manages to feel strikingly modern, even all these years later. And the deeply human story it tells will keep bringing you back again and again.