Does the length of a book put you off reading it?

I randomly came across this interesting little site called It uses 300 words per minute as an average reading speed to calculate how long it will take you to read a book.

This interested me as, I have to admit, sometimes if I pick up a book and it’s a hefty tome, I do have to really consider if I want to dedicate x-amount of time to reading it, just to end up not particularly liking it. There’s nothing worse than dedicating a week (or more!) of your reading-life to a book, only to really wish you hadn’t. So, I like the idea that on this site you can do a quick little test and it will give you a personalised words per minute (WPM) reading time result – mine was 286.

In a previous post, I mentioned that a friend of mine was not enjoying The Count of Monte Christo and given that it’s such a big book (over 1,000 pages) I advised she stopped reading. According to my WPM result, the good-old Count would take me 23 hours 3 minutes to read and given that 45 minutes reading per day is good for me at the moment, that means it would take me about a month to finish. So when put like that, I really find myself being put off even before starting. I’m not saying it would be a bad read, it might be the best month of my (literary) life but I’ve realised that I really have to feel like the book is going to be worth it, if it’s going to take me a while to read.

Of course, digital books come with this function built in. When you start reading them they give the page total, % of the way you are through them and the time left to read. Although, I find this constant reminder a little off-putting and not always accurate – such as the % read goes up, but time left either never goes down or also goes up… Then my mind starts wandering, assessing if I want to spent another 4 hours 45 minutes reading this book for example, and I can’t concentrate on the actual plot.

The same could be said about shorter books. I don’t mean short stories (I personally find those perfect for reading alongside a novel – for when you want to dip into another world for a brief time) but short books, novellas – does the length of them put you off in any way? Do you maybe feel they won’t develop a plot line or character arc satisfactorily enough to make you want to read? It’s just a question, as personally, I’ve read many shorter books I loved, two (very different ones) that spring to mind are The Vegetarian by Han Kang and The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett.

I suppose I’m wondering if I need to get over my initial reaction that if a book is too long, I don’t know if I want to dedicate so much time to it unless there’s a guaranteed investment there. What do you think?


19 thoughts on “Does the length of a book put you off reading it?

    1. Yes, that’s a good point, I’d probably be more inclined to read a longer book in a holiday situation, knowing I had extra time just to read!

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        1. I’m not actually sure what the longest book I’ve ever read is… The Murakami in the pic of this post is books 1 & 2 of a trilogy, so if you add them all up, probably them! Clocking in around 900 pages, I think!

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  1. I must admit I used to relish a book that was a hefty 1000 pages or more but this last year I have struggled to consider anything really over 400 pages but I think this is sadly due to work commitments. Maybe one day the enthusiasm will return.

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    1. Yes, agree, when reading time becomes scarce, you want to make sure you’re actually reading books worth your time – in a sense – so that’s why I really have to weigh up if 500+ pages are going to be my time well spent, when I could have read two shorter books that I really enjoyed! (Not that I wouldn’t enjoy the longer one, but for argument’s sake!)

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  2. Yes and no for me. I tend to put off reading the larger books, but I try to eventually get to them. Most books I read are probably around 400 pages and that seems good. Sometimes the 500+ page books are awesome. But other times, I wonder why they didn’t cut out some of the things that feel weird.

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    1. Yes, I know what you mean, I really feel like I’m making a commitment when I crack open a longer read, which – if I’m in the mood for it /really like it – is fine, but sometime you do wonder if they really have to be that long!

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  3. I suppose my thought is what is the different of reading one long book you didn’t particularly like versus a couple regular length books that are also not favorites? I used to avoid longer reads and try to just up my numbers with books that sounded just okay, but were a more manageable length. Now I just read whatever and if I get through fewer books then I’ll just live with it.
    I guess if I am enjoying a story I don’t care if it is a 30 page short of a 600 page novel. I do put a little more thought into books over 1000 pages, but mostly into the format I want to invest in. Typically for something long I want digital or audiobooks for ease of reading/handling/not hurting my shoulder keeping it in my purse.

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    1. Yes, good point; I think it is a psychological hurdle for me as if I’m enjoying the story, I can whizz through the book regardless of the length, it’s just more the initial picking it up.

      Good call on a digital version for longer reads, that’s another reason, I read a lot on my commute, so lugging a heavy book with me every day isn’t the most appealing idea!


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