Smart Quill Editorial About the Editor

Big Books

Posted on September 27th, 2013

I have long been a fan of the literary tome… the doorstopper, the epic, the definitively over 100,000 words novel. Though it may fall on your face as you read in bed, or make your hand ache from holding it up, nothing beats a big book. Agents and publishers will often baulk at word length, but the reality is this is more about coherence; quality not quantity. And everyone needs an editor, in my opinion (though of course I would say that).

So, here are my top five big books…

1. Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel – they both are so unutterably good that I cannot pick between them.  In fact, they have prompted my next series of video posts (to be revealed before the end of the year!).

2. Game of Thrones by George R R Martin – “Winter is coming…” I am ashamed it has taken me so long to read this series, but now I have started I will not be able to stop. The first book has made me massively antisocial.

3. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke –  an older, darker tale of faeries. Rich and sinister. It needed a punchier ending, I thought, but still one in which to lose yourself.

4. The Magus by John Fowles – possibly my favourite book…? It just turns you around and around. I have never felt so controlled by a writer, it is incredible the unreliability John Fowles creates and sustains.

5. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth – not just a big book, but one of the biggest, weighing in at around 600,000 words. Its narrative is vast, a huge number of characters, each with profound and intense stories; all perfectly balanced. Genius.