• Looking for New (and Long!) Reads

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 26 comments

    Discussion question: What have you been reading lately? What book(s) have you been recommending to friends and family? What’s your favorite long (say 400+ pages) classic?


    WBN’s brain trust (i.e., Justine, me) is less than two weeks away from an overseas getaway, and we’re already wrestling with one of the most important packing decisions: What books should we bring?!

    For long vacations, I typically like to pack one long book. When we went to Spain, I read an 800-page John Lennon bio. Now that we’re going to Portugal, should I find an 800-page George Harrison bio?

    Nah. Better yet, I think I’d like to lose myself in a long novel. Yak Babies just recorded an episode where my pals and I counted the books we’ve read on the Modern Library’s list of 100 top English-language novels since 1900, and I lagged far behind my co-hosts. And I’d probably lag far behind if we included everything pre-1900. So I could carry a long classic, maybe one of the marches (Middle or Augie).

    I’ve also been looking into novels in translation by Portuguese writers and have found a few interesting candidates, including City of UlyssesThe City and the Mountains, and The Last Will & Testament of Senhor da Silva Araujoall of which my favorite local bookstore carries. If you’ve read any of those, lemme know!

    Anyway. We like to check in every now and then and learn what you’ve been reading, so I figured what better time than now.

    What have you been reading lately? What have you told your friends and family to read? Has any book bowled you over yet in 2019? Let me know in the comments.


    WriteByNight co-founder David Duhr is fiction editor at the Texas Observer and co-host of the Yak Babies podcast, and has written about books for the Dallas Morning News, Electric Literature, Publishing Perspectives, and others.

    WriteByNight is a writers’ service dedicated to helping you achieve your creative potential and literary goals. We work with writers of all experience levels working in all genres, nationwide and worldwide. If you have a 2019 writing project that you’d like a little help with, take a look at our book coachingprivate instruction and writer’s block counseling services. Join our mailing list and get a FREE writer’s diagnostic, “Common problems and SOLUTIONS for the struggling writer.”



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    Bonnie West

    Dance to the music of time.
    the OLD FILTH trilogy.

    Bonnie West

    Yes! They aren’t that long . It’s more like 3 big books! And old Filth is terrific and I loved the Alexandria Quartet but I read it About 55 years ago!

    Bonnie West

    Old Filth is 3 novels too. So good!


    Discussion question: What have you been reading lately? What book(s) have you been recommending to friends and family? What’s your favorite long (say 400+ pages) classic? I haven’t been blown away by a novel this year, but last year I read “All the Light We Cannot See” (530 pages) by Anthony Doerr that instantly made my all-time favorites list. Easily recommended. Since you’re going to Portugal, perhaps something from the Brazilian writer, Paula Coelho. I think his work is an acquired taste, but I really liked “The Alchemist.” At 208 pages, it might be a short beach-read (go easy on… Read more »

    david lemke

    I’ve never taken a vacation more than an week; that having a job thing. Even after I started to accumulate vacation days, my wife wasn’t, because she was part time, able to get much time off in a chunk. Consequently, I just burned them up at the end of the year but we didn’t go anywhere. I’ve never considered choosing a long vacation book. Currently, according to Goodreads, I’m reading 64 books. One not on my list yet is Peter Hamilton’s “The Neutronium Alchemist” 1159 pages.

    Elissa Malcohn

    I think I’ve sung the praises here before of the first book I read this year: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon. Another recommended long read is The Overstory by Richard Powers. Nonfiction favorites so far this year include The Line Becomes A River by Francisco Cantu and An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield. I’m currently about two-thirds through (and am highly enjoying) Ella K. Maillart’s memoir The Cruel Way: Switzerland to Afghanistan in a Ford, 1939. That last one is this month’s free ebook download from U Chicago Press: https://www.press.uchicago.edu/books/freeEbook.html The… Read more »

    Barbara Mealer

    I’ve been reading “The Breathing Series” by Rebecca Donovan which are 3 books. Great character and emotional study. for along book, Shogun by James Clavell was an excellent book and worth a reread. The Pillars of the Earth by Kenneth Follett was another good one. Of course the classic, The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo is one I’ve read at least three times. If you want one a bit off the charts, try, Against the Day but Thomas Pynchon. It is a mashup sci-fi that was fun to read. Middlemarch is a good one along with Ann Karenina… Read more »

    frances hill

    A book I recommend, The Heart by Peter O. Knight. I could not put this one down!

    Moshe Prigan

    I am reading now (HIGHLY recommended!) the Icelandic author Halldór Kiljan Laxness’s “WORLD LIGHT”. Gerald Murnane, the notable Australian author loved it, and I’m totally hooked.

    Moshe Prigan

    You’re welcome. Yes, Murnane is not an easy read, but I “survived”, and more than that: he changed my thinking of Literature after I first read his “emerald blue.” Most of his novels lack the traditional elements of plot, dialogue, etc. Readers love it or hate it. I became enamored with it, as I am tired of many characters and a lot of dialogue in novels. I understand why he loved Laxness’ “World Light” though it has a dialogue every now and again. I could even get them confused: almost the same style.

    Elissa Malcohn

    A friend shared this cartoon on Facebook and I immediately thought of this entry.

    adrienne leslie

    The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah and A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline.
    TGA harsh/beautiful look at family dynamics 1970’s Alaska
    APOTW exquisite historical fiction


    Although I am not interested in paying any money at this time, since I do not have a job…I love the idea of being able to connect with other writers. I always wanted to have some sort of a connection and it is not easy living in a world and being highly creative. Most people communicate verbally, I am only guessing. But as a writer, I choose to write. Not sure what else to say. Being a writer is not easy. I guess it is nice to also let you know I just finished reading a book called Three Weeks… Read more »


    Being an artist is sometimes very isolating but at other times it can be rewarding too. Thanks so much for the email David. That meant sl much to me. Brigitte GRATEFUL!!!


    I am gratedful for this WRITERS BY NITE site.I am grateful there is a place for me to write. I liked the book called Three Weeks With my Brother. It was written by Michael Earl Sparks and his brother Nicolas Sparks. I could not stop reading it. I almost never get that into a book. However, I was able to relate to the author. being a parent, is not easy. I liked the truth that he shared and how hard it was for him to deal with a special needs child. So, even having millions of dollars..did not bring him… Read more »

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