“Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett
Page count: 1105
If you like long, epic, historical book sagas, Ken Follett is the go-to author. And Pillars of the Earth is his best work! Also, its sequel, “World Without End” is a must read literal gem.
The Pillars of the Earth tells the story of Philip, prior of Kingsbridge, a devout and resourceful monk driven to build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has known … of Tom, the mason who becomes his architect – a man divided in his soul … of the beautiful, elusive Lady Aliena, haunted by a secret shame … and of a struggle between good and evil that will turn church against state, and brother against brother.
“Enormous and brilliant . . . this mammoth tale seems to touch all human emotion – love and hate, loyalty and treachery, hope and despair. This is truly a novel to get lost in.”
2. “Look at me” by Jennifer Egan
Page count: 544
Jennifer Egan has never been afraid of getting creative. The big awards she won for A Visit From the Goon Squad prove that. In her second novel, which is just shy of 550 pages, Egan’s surreal tale explores our culture’s obsession with image in the way that only she can.
Reconstructive facial surgery after a car crash so alters Manhattan model Charlotte that, within the fashion world, where one’s look is oneself, she is unrecognizable. Seeking a new image, Charlotte engages in an Internet experiment that may both save and damn her. As her story eerily converges with that of a plain, unhappy teenager – another Charlotte – it raises tantalizing questions about identity and reality in contemporary Western culture.
“Egan took six years to write Look at Me, and it shows: this is a sprawling, ambitious novel that links together some of the most diverse characters you could imagine.”
~ The Guardian
3. “Nineteen Minutes” by Jodi Picoult
Page count: 468
In nineteen minutes, you can mow the front lawn, color your hair, watch a third of a hockey game. In nineteen minutes, you can bake scones or get a tooth filled by a dentist; you can fold laundry for a family of five….In nineteen minutes, you can stop the world, or you can just jump off it. In nineteen minutes, you can get revenge.
“Nineteen Minutes” is bestselling author Jodi Picoult’s most raw, honest, and important novel yet. Told with the straightforward style for which she has become known, it asks simple questions that have no easy answers: Can your own child become a mystery to you? What does it mean to be different in our society? Is it ever okay for a victim to strike back? And who — if anyone — has the right to judge someone else?
3. “The Stand” by Stephen King
Page count: 1348
Hard to skip this giant on a list like this…
When a man crashes his car into a petrol station, he brings with him the foul corpses of his wife and daughter. He dies and it doesn’t take long for the plague which killed him to spread across America and the world.
And the rest is a world that only King can envision.
4. “House of Leaves” by
Page count: 709
The format and structure of House of Leaves is unconventional, with unusual page layout and style, making it a prime example of ergodic literature.
It contains copious footnotes, many of which contain footnotes themselves, including references to fictional books, films or articles.
Some pages contain only a few words or lines of text, arranged in strange ways to mirror the events in the story, often creating both an agoraphobic and a claustrophobic effect.
The novel is also distinctive for its multiple narrators, who interact with each other in elaborate and disorienting ways.
While some have attempted to describe the book as a horror story, many readers, as well as the author, define the book as a love story. Danielewski expands on this point in an interview:
“I had one woman come up to me in a bookstore and say, ‘You know, everyone told me it was a horror book, but when I finished it, I realized that it was a love story.’ And she’s absolutely right. In some ways, genre is a marketing tool.”
House of Leaves has also been described as a “satire of academic criticism.”
5. “Cloud Atlas” by David Mitchell
Page count: 509
Six interlocking lives – one amazing adventure. In a narrative that circles the globe and reaches from the 19th century to a post-apocalyptic future, Cloud Atlas erases the boundaries of time, genre and language to offer an enthralling vision of humanity’s will to power, and where it will lead us.
Cloud Atlas was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2004 and was also the winner of the Richard & Judy Best Read of the Year.
6. “OTHERLAND: City of Golden Shadow” by Tad Williams
Page count: 792
Otherland is a science fiction tetralogy written by Tad Williams and published between 1996 and 2001. The story is set on Earth near the end of the 21st century, probably between 2082 and 2089 (one of the characters mentions being born in the early 30’s, having a kid in her forties, and the story is set slightly more than twelve years after that), in a world in which technology has advanced somewhat beyond the present.
The most notable advancement is the widespread availability of full-immersion virtual reality installations, which allow people from all walks of life to access an online world, called simply the Net. Tad Williams weaves an intricate plot spanning four thick volumes and creates a picture of a future society where virtual worlds are fully integrated into everyday life.
7. “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon
Page count: 868
This is the first novel in the bestselling outlander series (as seen on Amazon Prime Tv).
What if your future was the past?
1946, and Claire Randall goes to the Scottish Highlands with her husband Frank. It’s a second honeymoon, a chance to learn how war has changed them and to re-establish their loving marriage.
But one afternoon, Claire walks through a circle of standing stones and vanishes into 1743, where the first person she meets is a British army officer – her husband’s six-times great-grandfather.
Unfortunately, Black Jack Randall is not the man his descendant is, and while trying to escape him, Claire falls into the hands of a gang of Scottish outlaws, and finds herself a Sassenach – an outlander – in danger from both Jacobites and Redcoats.
Marooned amid danger, passion and violence, her only chance of safety lies in Jamie Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior. What begins in compulsion becomes urgent need, and Claire finds herself torn between two very different men, in two irreconcilable lives.
8. “Gone With the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell
Page count: 1057
Since its first publication in 1936, Gone With The Wind has endured as a story for all our times.
Set against the dramatic backdrop of the American Civil War, Margaret Mitchell’s magnificent historical epic is an unforgettable tale of love and loss, of a nation mortally divided and a people forever changed. Above all, it is the story of beautiful, ruthless Scarlett O’Hara and the dashing soldier of fortune, Rhett Butler.
9. “Les Misérables” by Victor Hugo
Page count: 1488
An epic novel of nineteenth-century France, Les Miserables tells the story of Jean Valjean, an ex-convict who works to redeem his past. Popularized by the film and musical, the novel is a sweeping masterpiece of character, adventure and emotion.
Within his dramatic story are themes that capture the intellect and the emotions: crime and punishment, the relentless persecution of Valjean by Inspector Javert, the desperation of the prostitute Fantine, the amorality of the rogue Thénardier and the universal desire to escape the prisons of our own minds. Les Misérables gave Victor Hugo a canvas upon which he portrayed his criticism of the French political and judicial systems, but the portrait which resulted is larger than life, epic in scope – an extravagant spectacle that dazzles the senses even as it touches the heart.
10. “Half of a Yellow Sun” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Page count: 562
Winner of the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction 2007, this is a heartbreaking, exquisitely written literary masterpiece
Ugwu, a boy from a poor village, works as a houseboy for a university professor. Olanna, a young woman, has abandoned her life of privilege in Lagos to live with her charismatic new lover, the professor. And Richard, a shy English writer, is in thrall to Olanna’s enigmatic twin sister. As the horrific Biafran War engulfs them, they are thrown together and pulled apart in ways they had never imagined.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s masterpiece, winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction, is a novel about Africa in a wider sense: about the end of colonialism, ethnic allegiances, class and race – and about the ways in which love can complicate all of these things.