U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Entertainment and Arts > Books
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 08-12-2019, 06:47 AM
 
7,459 posts, read 1,650,318 times
Reputation: 18145

Advertisements

Over the past few days, I have been rereading (for the third or fourth time) a favorite books of mine (Colony by Anne Rivers Siddons, published in 1992), which I have not read for about 20 years; and I was struck by how different the style was from all the recently published novels I have been reading. The Colony chapters were very long and loaded with descriptive detail, and I once again got wrapped up in the story, which took place from 1923 to 1991. However, it took me a while to relax into the book because I kept expecting to come to the end of the chapter! (Only 19 chapters plus an epilogue in the 470-page, or so, densely written book.)

However, most of the novels I have read that were written in the late 20th century books are not nearly as long or as detailed as novels written 100-150 years earlier (books by Dickens or Hardy are, for example) which I also enjoy -- so I am wondering if I have just been overlooking some recently published novels that are "old style" but still captivating and still somewhat relevant to today? I don't read many novels these days because I am turned off by most of the modern subject matter, although I do like some mysteries. (Mostly I read history and biography, though.)

Anyway, just wondering if anyone else has noticed the change in styles; and if so, what is your opinion of this? Also, if anyone has any recommendation for me, that would be great and much appreciated, as I have pretty much given up reading any new non-mystery novels published in the 21st century.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/95226.Colony
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 08-12-2019, 04:17 PM
Status: "Philippians 4:6-7" (set 29 days ago)
 
4,249 posts, read 3,419,161 times
Reputation: 5704
Yes I have noticed this as well.

Part of the reason of course that books by Dickens were so long is because they were episodic and published weekly.

In the early to mid-20th century, shorter novels seemed to dominate ("Gone With the Wind" being a notable exception) and then the pendulum swung back the other way during the 1970s through the 1990s. That time period had so many wonderful long novels... everything from "The Thorn Birds" to "The Pillars of the Earth", and so many others.

I don't know if we are just in the shorter category again because the pendulum has swung back once again, or if some other force is driving that. I have read that some authors must pay for the audio recordings of their books, and that books over 10 hours in length become very expensive. With the current popularity of audiobooks, I can see this being a factor.

I prefer long, epic, lush, historic books. I only like a shorter book if it is a thriller and very fast paced.

I'm not sure if you are looking for current books that are long and in depth, or recommendations of favorites from several years ago. If you clarify that I can come up with suggestions.

In any case, this recent blog post covers some of them and is filled with recommendations:

https://modernmrsdarcy.com/terrific-...ad-long-books/
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-12-2019, 04:52 PM
 
7,459 posts, read 1,650,318 times
Reputation: 18145
Quote:
Originally Posted by calgirlinnc View Post
Yes I have noticed this as well.

Part of the reason of course that books by Dickens were so long is because they were episodic and published weekly.

In the early to mid-20th century, shorter novels seemed to dominate ("Gone With the Wind" being a notable exception) and then the pendulum swung back the other way during the 1970s through the 1990s. That time period had so many wonderful long novels... everything from "The Thorn Birds" to "The Pillars of the Earth", and so many others.

I don't know if we are just in the shorter category again because the pendulum has swung back once again, or if some other force is driving that. I have read that some authors must pay for the audio recordings of their books, and that books over 10 hours in length become very expensive. With the current popularity of audiobooks, I can see this being a factor.

I prefer long, epic, lush, historic books. I only like a shorter book if it is a thriller and very fast paced.

I'm not sure if you are looking for current books that are long and in depth, or recommendations of favorites from several years ago. If you clarify that I can come up with suggestions.

In any case, this recent blog post covers some of them and is filled with recommendations:

https://modernmrsdarcy.com/terrific-...ad-long-books/
Thanks for your reply. I am open to almost any kind of novel, except for violent ones and any that try to disguise the author's personal political opinions or social issue crusade in the form of a novel. In the past, I loved most of Anya Seton's books. (Devil Water is my favorite of hers.) Captains and the Kings by Taylor Caldwell, and Forever Amber by Kathleen Windsor, just to name a few. And, of course, To Kill A Mockingbird.

Btw, I loved Pillars of the Earth, too!

Also, thank you for the link! I very much enjoyed East of Eden by Steinbeck, which was on there.

Btw, I am also wondering if the shorter novels might be due to the modern audience having shorter attention spans and/or less time for reading? Just a thought.

P.S. All of the novels I underlined (including Colony) are on my "Top Ten Favorite (adult) Novels" list. I would have to give it some thought to think what the other ones would be. Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy would be one. Dead Zone by Stephen King, too. So, one more to go. I will give it some thought! (I know I liked The Bannaman Legacy by Catherine Cookson when I read it many years ago, so I will reread that one and see if I still liked it as much as I did.)

Last edited by katharsis; 08-12-2019 at 05:30 PM..
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-12-2019, 05:39 PM
Status: "Philippians 4:6-7" (set 29 days ago)
 
4,249 posts, read 3,419,161 times
Reputation: 5704
I loved "Katherine" by Seton and "Forever Amber" (two of my all time favorites!), so we might have similar tastes! Have you read "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" since you liked "Madding"? I haven't read "Captains and the Kings" but just put it in on my list. Thanks!

In no particular order, and without knowing what you've already read:

"The Midnight Rose" by Lucinda Riley (she writes big, sweeping novels; this one is my favorite but they are all good)
"The Forgotten Garden" by Kate Morton (and all her rest as well)
"The Winter Sea" and "The Shadowy Horses" by Susanna Kearsley (and all her older books, but not "Bellwether")
"The Shell Seekers", "September" and "Coming Home" by Rosamund Pilcher
"The Far Pavilions" by M. M. Kaye
"The Tea Rose" trilogy by Jennifer Donnelly
"The Bronze Horseman" by Paullina Simons
"The Winds of War" and "War and Remembrance" by Herman Wouk
"North and South" trilogy by John Jakes (any of his really)
"Centennial" or anything by James Michener
"Outlander" and the rest of the series by Diana Gabaldon
"The Game of Kings" or anything by Dorothy Dunnett
"The Thorn Birds" by Colleen McCullough
"Harry Potter"...series...by J. K. Rowling
"The Clan of the Cave Bear" by Jean Auel (I personally didn't like this series, but they were huge bestsellers)
"And Ladies of the Club" by Helen Hooven Santmyer
"Roses" by Leila Meacham
"The Other Side of Midnight" by Sidney Sheldon (I love all of his books)
"Shantaram" by Gregory David Roberts
"Shogun" by James Clavell
"Gone With the Wind" by Margaret Mitchell (if you have only seen the movie, but have not read the book...read the book)
"A Prisoner of Birth" by Jeffrey Archer (a retelling of "The Count of Monte Cristo")
"The Power of One" by Bryce Courtenay
"A Prayer for Owen Meany" by John Irving
"Whitney, My Love" by Judith McNaught (if you like historical romance)
"Flowers from the Storm" by Laura Kinsale (also historical romance, but she writes historical romance very differently)
"The Mists of Avalon" by Marion Zimmer Bradley
"The Name of the Rose" by Umberto Eco
"Evergreen" by Belva Plain
"The Day of the Jackal" by Frederick Forsyth (not as long as some, but it is excellent)
"Lonesome Dove" by Larry McMurtry (haven't read it but it is on by TBR list)
"The Black Madonna" by Stella Riley

Stella Riley also has the Rockliffe series, which are shorter, but fantastic if you like that kind of thing...I am a huge fan and she is rereleasing her back catalog as well as continuing to publish new books. The narrator she uses for audio is Alex Wyndham and his voice is magical.

Shorter and not really epic length but very good are all of Georgette Heyer's romances.


I agree they don't write em like they used to. I think the rise of the "women's fiction" a la "Bridget Jones's Diary" signaled a shift from the multi-generational saga to "modern 20 something problems", and although I really loved "Bridget Jones", we didn't need 10 years worth of imitations. Historical romance is also somewhat out of fashion (much to my dismay), and those books in the 1970s through the 1990s were long, detailed, and often extraordinarily well written.

Happy reading!

Last edited by calgirlinnc; 08-12-2019 at 06:02 PM..
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-12-2019, 05:51 PM
 
7,459 posts, read 1,650,318 times
Reputation: 18145
Quote:
Originally Posted by calgirlinnc View Post
I loved "Katherine" by Seton and "Forever Amber" (two of my all time favorites!), so we might have similar tastes! Have you read "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" since you liked "Madding"? I haven't read "Captains and the Kings" but just put it in on my list. Thanks!

In no particular order, and without knowing what you've already read:

"The Shell Seekers", "September" and "Coming Home" by Rosamund Pilcher
"The Far Pavilions" by M. M. Kaye
"The Tea Rose" trilogy by Jennifer Donnelly
"The Bronze Horseman" by Paullina Simons
"The Winds of War" and "War and Remembrance" by Herman Wouk
"North and South" trilogy by John Jakes (any of his really)
"Centennial" or anything by James Michener

"Outlander" and the rest of the series by Diana Gabaldon
"The Game of Kings" or anything by Dorothy Dunnett
"The Thorn Birds" by Colleen McCullough
"Harry Potter"...series...by J. K. Rowling

"The Clan of the Cave Bear" by Jean Auel (I personally didn't like this series, but they were huge bestsellers)
"And Ladies of the Club" by Helen Hooven Santmyer
"Roses" by Leila Meacham
"The Other Side of Midnight" by Sidney Sheldon (I love all of his books)
"Shantaram" by Gregory David Roberts
"Shogun" by James Clavell
"Gone With the Wind" by Margaret Mitchell
(if you have only seen the movie, but have not read the book...read the book)
"A Prisoner of Birth" by Jeffrey Archer (a retelling of "The Count of Monte Cristo")
"The Power of One" by Bryce Courtenay
"A Prayer for Owen Meany" by John Irving
"Whitney, My Love" by Judith McNaught (if you like historical romance)
"Flowers from the Storm" by Laura Kinsale (also historical romance, but she writes historical romance very differently)
"The Mists of Avalon" by Marion Zimmer Bradley
"The Name of the Rose" by Umberto Eco
"Evergreen" by Belva Plain
"Pillars of the Earth" or anything by Ken Follett
"The Day of the Jackal" by Frederick Forsyth
(not as long as some, but it is excellent)


I agree they don't write em like they used to. I think the rise of the "women's fiction" a la "Bridget Jones's Diary" signaled a shift from the multi-generational saga to "modern 20 something problems", and although I really loved "Bridget Jones", we didn't need 10 years worth of imitations. Historical romance is also out of fashion, and those books in the 1970s through the 1990s were long, detailed, and often extraordinarily well written.

Happy reading!
Thanks!!! I bolded the ones I have read, and I will research the others for possible future reading. I do very much agree that we DO have very similar tastes because I did enjoy all the ones I read and bolded. Again, thank you so much for the other suggestions!!

Btw, I forgot about Jon Irving!! My favorite of his (and, yes, this makes the final entry of my Top Ten list!) is Cider House Rules. I also liked Paradise by Judith McNaught, too, although I thought her writing in that was a little amateurish. (Good story, though!)

Other recommendations for you:

ANY book by Richard Russo (Empire Falls is my favorite)
Any book by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Shadow of the Wind is my favorite)
House of Mirth by Edith Wharton (although this one was written more than 100 years ago)
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-12-2019, 06:05 PM
Status: "Philippians 4:6-7" (set 29 days ago)
 
4,249 posts, read 3,419,161 times
Reputation: 5704
You are very welcome! I added some more. I could be here all night adding books to the list.

I'm glad you like historical romance; I think this genre is often a guilty secret, when the truth is some of these books like "Forever Amber" are so incredibly well researched and well written! "Whitney, my Love" is one of my all time favorite historic romances.

Speaking of historic novels...."Jane Eyre" if you haven't read it already.

I will definitely look up the ones you have mentioned!

BTW, I started a similar thread some years ago. You might find more ideas there:

"Epic" Romances--Please Recommend More

Last edited by calgirlinnc; 08-12-2019 at 06:20 PM..
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-12-2019, 06:18 PM
 
7,459 posts, read 1,650,318 times
Reputation: 18145
I know we could be at this all night, but I also liked the first three of Jane Austen's novels. And I also thought Speak to Me of Love by Dorothy Eden was excellent, although not as "highbrow" or literary as most of the others we have discussed. Lots of historical and women's interest in that one, and also multi-generational. It is not as well known as the others we discussed, so I posted the link.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/...-to-me-of-love

Oh, and one more suggestion: Three Women at the Water's Edge by Nancy Thayer. (Also not well known and hard to find. I finally had to order it through a used book site online.)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/...e_Water_s_Edge

As we both said, I know that we could go on and on and ON!

Last edited by katharsis; 08-12-2019 at 06:29 PM..
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-12-2019, 06:22 PM
 
10,981 posts, read 4,476,624 times
Reputation: 27742
Interesting topic.

When I look back at the books that were considered classics, that we had to read in High School, my gosh HOW BORING!! No wonder most of the kids hated reading (I was not one of them).

Recently - in the past 20 years or so - I've been so surprised at how very creative writing has become. A book that takes place entirely during a dinner out at a restaurant (The Dinner), a book that's written completely in the form of an alphabetized glossary (A Key to Treehouse Living), a book written entirely in the form of letters and emails (Holy Land), it's night and day from the boring drivel we had to read. The Old Man and the Sea? Tale of Two Cities? snore
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-12-2019, 08:13 PM
Status: "Philippians 4:6-7" (set 29 days ago)
 
4,249 posts, read 3,419,161 times
Reputation: 5704
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClaraC View Post

Recently - in the past 20 years or so - I've been so surprised at how very creative writing has become. A book that takes place entirely during a dinner out at a restaurant (The Dinner), a book that's written completely in the form of an alphabetized glossary (A Key to Treehouse Living), a book written entirely in the form of letters and emails (Holy Land), it's night and day from the boring drivel we had to read. The Old Man and the Sea? Tale of Two Cities? snore

First, what you describe is known as an epistolary novel, and they are nothing new. There are examples dating back as far as 1485.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistolary_novel

Second, literature is considered great and is taught in schools because of ideas and themes, because of its ability to speak to issues affecting mankind, because of the way it illuminates the human condition. I also disagree that the books you selected are "boring".

You could read, IDK, Danielle Steele and be entertained. But Danielle Steele will not be read and studied 200 years from now.

Dickens and Hemingway, drivel, sure.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 09-13-2019, 06:30 PM
Status: "Philippians 4:6-7" (set 29 days ago)
 
4,249 posts, read 3,419,161 times
Reputation: 5704
Add Fern Michaels to the list! I'm halfway through the "Texas" quartet---big, old-fashioned family sagas with great plot development, interesting characters, and solid writing.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply

Quick Reply
Message:


Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Entertainment and Arts > Books
Similar Threads
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

2005-2019, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top