Why are some long novels so much harder to read than others?

count-of-monte-cristoI think I might read The Count of Monte Cristo*. I don’t know. It is still up in the air. I am seriously considering it however. The book looks pretty interesting, and I’ve had numerous people recommend it to me. One of my students at Johns Hopkins even said it was his favorite book! Now that is a recommendation.

The downside is that it is long. Like, Game of Thrones** long. The book has to be at least half a million words.

But there’s long-and-hard-to-read and long-and-easy-to-read, and I have a feeling that CMC might be the latter? I mean, it never took me particularly long to blow through a GoT book. I think I went through A Dance With Dragons in a few days. Les Miserables was long and easy to read too. Man, that was one very readable book.

Dickens, on the other hand (much as I love him), takes a bit longer. I’m not sure why. I think it’s just because there’s always a certain amount of tedium with Dickens. There’s plenty of good stuff, but then for 50-100 pages it’ll be extremely boring (before eventually coming back to life again). I don’t think there are many authors from whom I’d accept that kind of behavior, but Dickens gets a pass because the rest of it is so unique.

 

*Other options: The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Emile Zola’s The Ladies’ Paradise, or one of those other Balzac novels that I’ve had lying around on my Kindle for ages.

**I suppose I should technically call them A Song of Ice And Fire books, but I think that title is pretty much dead. I’m in this to actually communicate with people: I’m not gonna use the official title just so that I can look like I have nerd-cred.