Okay, maybe I made up the term “megalobibliophobia.” But the fear of reading large books is very real!
Take for example those “big books” sitting on your shelves at home. You know the ones I’m talking about: 500-plus pages, impressive-looking covers, never-been-cracked spines. In my library, that book is War & Peace. I have every intention of reading it . . . someday. This will be the year, I always promise. And yet there it sits—all 1,296 pages of it—unread.
There’s just something very intimidating about a hefty book. You worry that it’ll take you weeks, months, maybe even a full year to get through it. What if you get bored? What if you don’t understand what’s going on? What if you reach page 700 and forget what happened 300 pages ago? What if your eye begins to wander to the other, shorter books on your shelves? Is all this work even worth your time?
Well, despite my reluctance to take on Tolstoy’s masterpiece, there’s a reason that David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (768 pages) and The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss (respectively weighing in at 736 and 1,321 pages) hold places of honor on my bookshelf. Daunting as they looked at first glance, these books drew me into their worlds as I read page after page after page. I spent so much time with them that they feel more like dear friends than massive piles of paper, ink, and glue.
So, if there’s a big book in your life you feel intimidated by but you have a sneaking suspicion might be worth the effort, here are a few tips for getting started and staying motivated to read!
Make a schedule
Blocking out 20-30 minutes of reading time a day or setting manageable goals like reading a certain number of pages a week is a great way to tackle a hefty book. I first tried this technique with David Copperfield by setting a goal of reading 100 pages per week. By following that schedule, I knew I could make it to the finish line in less than two months, which was a great motivator. Sticking to it felt a little bit like a chore at first, but by the second or third week I was so engrossed in the story that I exceeded my weekly goal on a few occasions.
Hide the page numbers
If the visual part of reading a long book is putting you off, try using an e-reader. It’s portable, and it takes away the temptation to count exactly how many pages you have to go. Some e-readers even give you the option of turning off the page counter.
If the plot of your book is complex and you worry about losing track of characters or important plot points, try making a character list, family tree, or timeline as you read. These tools can help you keep the who, what, when, where, and why of your book straight.
If that sounds too much like homework, try searching online. Sites like SparkNotes can be a great resource for character lists and chapter summaries. If it’s a long book, I guarantee that somebody, somewhere has published a reader’s guide online.
Find a book buddy
Is there someone you know who’s interested in reading the same book? Or perhaps several someones? Creating your own book club is a great way to stay motivated and engaged in reading a long book. You can set goals together and discuss the plot, characters, and what you think is going to happen next. Plus, book club meetings are a great excuse to grab a coffee with your friends!
Take a break
This tip can be dangerous, but if you’re really struggling with a book, try taking a break to read something else. A short break can refresh your brain and renew your motivation. Just be sure to make a commitment to come back to your big book by a certain date if you are truly committed to finishing it.
Reading a long book can certainly be an adventure. There may be times when you can’t put it down, and there may be times when you feel tempted to give it up altogether. But no matter what happens on the journey, there is no denying the sense of accomplishment that you’ll feel when you finally reach THE END.
Do you have a big book we should make sure we add to our reading lists? Want to know our team’s favorite big books? Head to our Facebook page!
“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” – C.S. Lewis
P.S. As I was writing this blog post, I realized that a lot of the fears that go along with reading a big book also apply to writing a big book. So, stay tuned for “Megalobibliophobia, Part II (the fear of writing big books)”!
“War and Peace” – Sarah Elizabeth Altendorf, July 7, 2011, http://www.flickr.com/photos/46732441@N06/5917704508, via http://photopin.com, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/, accessed January 9, 2017.
“I make myself known to my Aunt” – Hablot Knight Browne, 1849, http://charlesdickenspage.com/illustrations-david_copperfield.html, accessed January 9, 2017.