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Does size matter?

And if they're not too long, they're too short. I'm still waiting for some actual numbers on how much longer or shorter the average novel is now compared to what it used to be whenever it was the right length.
Like all too many men, the smiling Mr. McCrum doesn't understand that it isn't the size, it's how you use it. If the piece is compelling, we'll be willing to spend a long time with something that big. He's really just complaining about bad versus good, worthwhile versus monotonous, awkward, or painful. Even he concedes that there are some authors with big ones that he got pleasure from.
Painful to think of, but there are books one finishes where the idea certainly occurs that the author could have said as much with one-third fewer words.
But that doesn't address the "Why?"
I usually notice a lack of editing long before I reach the end of the book.

I don't mind long books, but I don't want the extra length to just be a lot of non-story-related detail (The Terror) or the bad situation repeated ad nauseum (The Regulators).

I loved the unabridged version of The Stand. I loved Pillars of the Earth. Long is fine.

Just don't *bore* me.

Large books differ from person to person. I consider a 300 paged book decent sized,but when a book hits the 600's it seems way long for me,and I have to read only that one book instead of the two I usually read.
The books I usually read are about 400 pages long and I've read some that are a little over two hundred pages. The longest book I read is about 500 pages so the size does not matter to me.
When I was a teenager, still mostly reading SF, I saw the monstrous hardback tome that was the newly released (this was a while back) "Battlefield Earth" by L. Ron Hubbard. 800+ pages. I had never read anything more than half that long before. The sheer size of the book scared me. But I had to know: Could I finish it? So I checked it out from the library. And I loved it (as I said: I was young). That was my first Big Book. I've read quite a few since then.

Just remembered that this morning. Figured I'd share. :)

I think of epic tomes that I've really enjoyed and I think Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke was one of the last ones I read, or maybe Perdido Street Station by Mieville also great - that though they looked off putting, by the end I would pay money for them to last longer... Actually, I quite enjoyed The Terror by Dan Simmons. My beef with the novel was it all went a bit surreal near the end... I found the historical stuff really cool. Simmons really does his homework, but with the 'horror' side of things, it all got a bit weird and whacky I found.

Alastair Reynolds books (sci-fi) are quite epic I've found. I've not yet read any L Ron Hubbard though...

lol @ Sparkchaser's comment too... Stephenson's verbose alrighty...
I prefer a short novel. At one stage I used to buy these fontana paperbacks from a second-hand bookshop. They were all from the seventies, and I liked them because I could start one in the morning and finish it the same day.
Some fine novels have been short (think The War of the Worlds, by HG Wells; or Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad). It depends on the story. The Lord of the Rings isn't a lesser novel for being c.600,000+ words long - its size is required in order to describe a whole fictional world (although, reading it, I can't help but wonder whether a little trim here and there might improve it).

As for 'that', I know many people who use the word often in speech, and just as many who don't. There are other overused words: 'said', 'the', 'man', 'woman', etc.; and many overused phrases: 'beautiful woman' (the heroine in thrillers is always a beautfiul woman) comes to mind.

There are also overused ideals. A few heroes who don't value democracy might be refreshing . . . but I now moving very much off topic.
On topic, I'm suddenly reminded of the Enid Blyton books of my childhood. There were short, and easily read in a day. They weren't less of a book for all that.
I tend to prefer short, but if I'm paying $20 for something, it had better be worth it. Long for sake of long is very bad...long for sake of developing a decent plot and characters is good.
The length of the book depends on the good versus bad content. I will read a book of any length if it is good. I am sure we have all read "bad" books that were short and ones that were long. We were just happier when they were short and bad because that means it took us less time to muddle through :lol:
And then there are those books which are super long, but that you wish would never end... like Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. Such an awesome book, weighty tome indeed and I almost sprained my wrist reading it on the train to and from work, but wow, it could've been three times bigger and I'd still have wanted more of Susanna Clarke's beautiful prose.
Titus Groan; long and tedious but I read the whole thing. I felt the same way about "The Mysteries of Udolpho". I needed a short, light read after both of those. I generally pfefer books in the range of 130k to 200k word count but long or short, if the book is well done, compelling and satisfying, then I am pleased. I read a lot of Classical Literature and am used to the longer books.

Cheers, Dan