The 5 Stages of Reading a Very (Very) Long Novel

Sometimes I really hate the things I like. I can’t be the only one. Sometimes I experience too much of a good thing, and I grow steadily more unappreciative, burnt out, and cranky. Sometimes the things I like go out of their way to decline in quality, like The Mindy Project. And sometimes (a.k.a. often), things that seem fun up to and including the moment you start doing them turn out to be some sort of miserable punishment for all the sins of your past lives—like camping, or watching any movie starring Tom Cruise, or kayaking upstream in a vengeful river. Or reading really, really long books.

Long books are great—sometimes. In those moments that you manage to pick up some momentum, or your favorite character is embarking on a physical or emotional adventure, or a brilliant author slips in some witty dialogue and you actually get the joke—or, especially, those moments where you get to heave that just-finished novel back up on the shelf in pure self-satisfaction (or shelf-satisfaction, oh yes I went there)—in those moments, you can be tricked into thinking you had fun the whole time… that those weeks and weeks of stubborn but tedious plot unraveling and text deciphering were totally worth it.

I wrote more on this theme for Headstuff last week in an article entitled “The 5 Stages of Reading a Very (Very) Long Novel.” It covers everything from Intrigue to Payoff, with a special emphasis on the agony and suffering that will inevitably follow your initial bout of determination and self-confidence.

Not that I would know anything about that.