How to read big books

Over the past couple of years I’ve really got into reading long books – I’m talking 800-1000 pages! That’s all well and good but I understand that for many, reading a long book like that is actually quite intimidating and daunting. So, today I have a few tips to help you tackle some of the chunky books that have been hanging around on your TBR.

Pick a genre that you love

Start by picking a book that’s by a favourite author or in a favourite genre or in a favourite age-group so that you set yourself up for success. I started with adult fantasy to make sure that I was really excited to complete the book anyway. That excitement will keep you super motivated!

Break it down

I would recommend taking the time to break the book down into manageable sections and either tabbing them or writing them down. If the book is 800 pages + I tend to break it into 50 (ish)* page chunks and tab them. Then I try and read at least one section a day as reading 50 pages is a much easier task for me and I find that on some days I’m able to read a few sections and get ahead of schedule!

It’s good too because you can count the tabs to see how many days it will take you to finish – this also helps with momentum and enthusiasm to keep going.

*The reason I say 50-ish pages is that I round up to the nearest chapter in most cases so that I’m not stopping in a random place but do whatever suits you best. Also if you start reading and the pace is super-fast (lucky you!) you can amend the tabs to include longer sections.

Post-it notes are your friend

If you’re into long adult fantasies like me then it might make your life easier to tab the 50(ish) page sections and then stop after each one to write a post-it size summary of what you’ve just read. This can help you digest the information and remember key moments in the plot, character descriptions or seeds/foreshadowing that you think will be important later on. You can stick these directly into the book too so when you’re reading it you can quickly go back and look at what you’ve written days previously.

Read something else

I know that doesn’t really make any sense but hear me out. If you’re reading a super long book with a slower pace, then I would recommend picking up a shorter book of another genre to read at the same time. This book should be, in your opinion, an ‘easier read’.

Maybe a short YA contemporary, poetry, a collection of short stories, non-fiction audiobook… just something else that you can read fast. That way you will be making progress in your long book over the course of a few weeks but you’ll also finish a book or two at the same time, so you don’t feel like you’re not finishing anything.

DNF it

If you’ve tried all of these tips and it’s just not working for you then DNF it! Life is too short to read books that don’t make you happy or excited. There are so many long books out there that you can try and conquer so don’t waste time slogging through a book that you’re not enjoying – you don’t want to get into a reading slump!

Series breaks

This is a bonus tip but if you’re starting a book series that includes lots of really long books then I would recommend taking a month or two break between each book so that you don’t burn out. It will take you longer overall but you’ll enjoy the books more if you’re genuinely excited to get back into the world and spend time with the characters again.

Well, there you go, my top tips to reading big chunky books. Hopefully you feel more confident to pick up a big book this autumn/winter and get it ticked off of your 2020 TBR!

Let me know if you have any more tips and if you would like a big book recommendations list from me soon.

Happy reading!

One thought on “How to read big books

  1. I have been thinking of picking up IT next month and this post is perfect timing. I have been debating it but this is super helpful. I do really love the post it note idea. I can be super forgetful so that would really help. If I do finally read it definitely going to break it down. That would make it so much easier and less scary to pick up.

    Liked by 1 person

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