Short books vs long books? I say short. This question has been debated since the dawn of time itself, or at least five minutes ago when I thought of this idea for a post. That being said, short books are cooler. Short books are to long books as name brand is to generic (but not really).
Reason #1: You can always assume short books are well edited.
While I still enjoy many long books, it’s a given that many of them are in desperate need of an editor. J. R. R. Tolkien filled his books with hundreds of long descriptions, unpronounceable names, and subplots which admittedly enhanced the world of Middle earth, but it had little to do with the story. Short books rarely have this problem. When you only have two hundred or so pages to write a story, you are not going to waste time dwelling on a minor character’s water bottle collection, no matter how cool that sounds. What do Fahrenheit 451, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Gregor the Overlander have in common? They’re all straight to the point. Each scene serves a higher purpose: not a line seems out of place. I wish I could say the same about Salem’s Lot by Stephen King, where there’s a six page description of the weather that made me cry tears of boredom.
Reason #2: You’re not chained down to just one book for a long period of time.
For those afraid of commitment, this is the perfect book length for you. I envy those who could read more than one book at a time. When I try to do that I end up favoring one book over the other and the other poor book is forgotten and left to collect dust in my bookcase, hoping I’ll come back and read it again (I’m looking at you, Inkspell,by Cornelia Funke.)
With short books, you don’t have to worry about this. Since each book is probably around three hundred pages, even if you do favor one book over the other, by the time you finish it you’ll still remember everything about the other one. Meanwhile, if you were to ditch a book for, say, A Song of Ice and Fire, by the time you’re done you’ll have forgotten the book even existed.
Reason #3: If you drop a short book on your foot, it doesn’t hurt.
My hardcover edition of The Stand shown above would probably crush it, and then put a hole through your floor.
Reason #4: You can take short books everywhere you go.
This is especially true for paperback books. I can actually fit The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in my pocket, so whenever I’m bored I just take it out like its my phone and start reading. Also, the look on someone’s face when you pull a book out of your pocket is priceless.
Roy: “But now that we have eBooks, a book of a thousand pages can still fit in the palm of my hand. So your last two reasons were irrelevant.”
Shut up, Roy. No one asked you.
Reason #5: Long books are too mainstream.
I’m not a hipster. I briefly joined a group of hipsters, but they all tragically died of third degree burns, after drinking their coffee before it was cool. That was when I realized that being a hipster was bad for your health, so I stopped dressing ironically and became a blogger instead.
But seriously, short books are ridiculously underrated. It seems like 75% of best selling books today are long. People seem to think that a longer book means a better read, but it doesn’t. Quality over quantity, people.
Strangely enough, the next three books I plan to read are The Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens (446 pages in my edition), Wizard and Glass, by Stephen King (896 pages) and A Game of Thrones, by George R. R. Martin (864 pages). I am a hypocrite.