Book reading is a popular pastime on any college campus, and time is plentiful for students with lengthy summer class schedules.
With that the case, some may want heftier reading material than the latest crime fluff or “lolcats” website-to-book translation, but that might require looking beyond today’s best-seller lists.
Even the current nonfiction bestseller — Laura Bush’s memoir “Spoken from the Heart” — totals about 450 pages and matches the lengths of chart-topping thriller novels.
The Oracle offers a few suggestions for accessible books — old and new, popular and classic — that can truly last the whole summer.
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” by J.K. Rowling
The enormously popular Harry Potter saga’s seventh and final volume became the fastest-selling book in history, even with the immense amount of time it took to finish the story of the schoolboy wizard’s struggle against Voldemort.
The series’ large print and simple sentences makes for an undemanding read. And since this last installment sold 8.3 million copies in first-day U.S. sales alone, there’s a good chance many students have already sped through Hogwarts’ dark final battles.
Yet fans can now dedicate summer to re-reading the book slowly for every charm spell and character detail — in preparation for the June 18 grand opening of the Harry Potter attractions at Universal Studios Orlando and the movie’s slated fall release date.
“Under the Dome” by Stephen King
Horror writer Stephen King is no stranger to writing massive novels, as both “It” and “The Stand” total more than 1,000 pages.
Last year’s “Under the Dome” — which completed a decades-long idea for King and is widely considered by critics to be a return to form — tells the story of a small Maine town driven to hysteria when they are trapped underneath an invisible force field.
A critic from the Telegraph praised “the terrific pace” of the novel — a surprising compliment for a book that lengthy.
King’s unsparing depiction of the residents’ fates might not fit the tone of summer days, but it could suit long hours spent inside darkened classrooms.
“Infinite Jest” by David Foster Wallace
According to a list compiled by Listverse, “Infinite Jest” ranks among the top 10 longest books written in the English language.
Wallace’s 1996 opus imagines a North America with years named after products like adult Depends and Perdue chicken, Quebecois wheelchair assassins and a film so ludicrously beautiful it stops people’s lives in their tracks.
Despite its “massive girth,” as Time put it, the funny and satirical novel was still called one of the decade’s 100 best novels by the magazine and premiered as a national bestseller.
If students can weather the extensive cast of characters and hundreds of footnotes, they should enjoy the colorful, enormous alternate reality that Wallace invents.
“Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand
Rand has proved to be an incredibly divisive author for decades now, but one who still maintains a college-age following and even has a California think-tank institute named after her.
“Atlas Shrugged” is considered the ultimate distillation of Rand’s controversial “Objectivism” theory, with its idea that human worth should be judged by one’s personal self-achievement.
The story follows a railroad industry executive named Dagny Taggert, a mysterious strike-leader named John Galt and their bombastic conflicts with the government.
Even at more than 1,000 pages, “Atlas Shrugged” ranks as the 187th best-selling book of all time on Amazon. Student readers can breeze through the novel during the summer months and decide their position on Rand’s philosophies.
“War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy
“War and Peace” has become a pop-culture synonym for an exhaustively long and academic tome.
However, any readers willing to withstand Tolstoy’s lengthy descriptions of the Napoleonic invasion of Russia will soon find a memorable novel about human emotions and the most accessible of plot devices — the love triangle.
The plot concerns the characters Pierre, Prince Andrei and Natasha in a wide-spanning drama full of battle, love, politics, birth and death.
If nothing else, consider “War and Peace” the ultimate reading undertaking to finish in the next three months — and perhaps as a way to impress a future literature professor.
Other long books:
“Gravity’s Rainbow” by Thomas Pynchon (784 pages)
“Cryptonomicon” by Neal Stephenson (928 pages)
“The Brothers Karamazov” by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1,072 pages)
Page numbers come from book’s first search result on Amazon.