I recently read a book for book club. It was over 500 pages long. I read a book for fun- almost 600 pages.

hmmm

Does any book that one reads for fun need to be over 350 pages?

I don’t usually love books that hover over 300 pages. Rarely does an author have me so enthralled in a story that I want it to continue on and on. One of the books I mentioned was The Fountains of Silence clocking in at 512 pages. First off- this book was utterly average. The editor that thought that this was a good idea needs an editor. There’s detail that are useful, storylines that move the plot along, and then there’s filler, which is the stuff on which this book is made. There were paragraphs I skipped over entirely and I didn’t miss one point of this book. If you skip something, does that mean it’s not necessary?

Again, Rachel talks so much about gorgeous people and clothes. Do people really read books to peak into the lives of people who are attractive? Do the descriptions that read like Vogue pictorials instead of a novel really matter that much to the story? I don’t know, after the fiftieth description of a designer outfit, I’m done…

And what about movies? Apparently, movies that were released in 2021 were, on average, nine minutes longer than those made in 2009. I’m hoping that this trend is on the reversal, because I don’t think movies need to be any longer than two hours. Luckily, the movies I’ve seen lately are all around the two hour mark.

The obvious next question is: are our attention spans getting shorter. And to unscientifically answer that question, I’ll say Yes- our attention spans are getting shorter. But in the case of books and movies, it’s almost a chicken/egg: Do we not have the stamina to go through something that is long, or are things just too long to hold interest?

Our discussion questions for today:

  1. What is your preferred book length? Will you read a book longer than your preferred length?
  2. What is your preferred movie length? Will you sit through a longer movie?
  3. Do you have a decent attention span?

Discuss

84 thoughts on “How Long?

  1. I have a rather short attention span. My preferred book length is about 20 – 100 pages in pdf format. Of course most of what I read is not fiction so that might make a difference.

    But the real test of the influence a book has made on me is whether I go back to it again and want to learn more, perhaps look up one of the references provided.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Books and movies are way too long these days. I’m fine with long books in general. I’ve read and loved the game if thrones books and Pillars of the Earth. I don’t like that basic thrillers now run over 400 pages. That’s unnecessary. For most of the books I read, I think 300-350 is perfect.
    Most movies should be under 2 hours. A basic comedy should be 90 minutes.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Doesn’t matter how long a book or a movie is if it is a good one. Life is too short to place time constraints on good storytelling. Long movies and books aren’t about ones attention span: it’s whether or not the story is worthwhile and has been done well. The time spent watching a movie or reading a book shouldn’t be a problem. If it is look at your priorities as that may be the issue.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Personally, I prefer books that are around 300-350 pages. A shorter book sometimes leaves me with questions, and longer books tend to drag on and I get bored. I have on rare occasions read books that were so good I was disappointed when they ended, and they were my recommended length. Some authors are excellent story tellers and can accomplish this, but it has been the exception for me and not the rule.
    I have read longer books than my preferred length, but generally I’m satisfied at around the 350 page length for reasons I’ve mentioned above.
    My preferred movie length is about 1 hour 45 mins. to 2 hours. In that timeframe I can get a decent backstory, and my attention can generally be held to the end. Those 3 hours+ epics usually put me to sleep. 🥱. My attention span the last few years is horrible. I’m very easily distracted unless something is so good I’m riveted. This is happening more and more with a good documentary. Documentaries and true crime or very good mysteries tend to hold my attention most these days. 🤷🏽‍♀️
    (Please excuse my terrible English this morning I’m still waking up.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Almost no movie should be over 3 hours. Period. If I can go to the bathroom, come back and know exactly what’s happening, it’s too long. I’m also weird in that if I’m sad a book ended, I don’t think the author plotted it out properly. Endings should be satisfying. If they’re not, the author screwed up

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      1. I agree about the movie.

        In my case, the book was so good and satisfying at the end that I just wanted to keep reading more about the characters. It was just so good that I wanted to stay in their world and see what else they could get up to. The author didn’t leave me unsatisfied. She left me so satisfied I wanted more. It was like longing for a sequel. 😌 Kinda hard to explain, but it felt different than when an author abruptly ends the story and you’re left feeling like you were somehow shortchanged.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. It depends. A good book leaves me sad that it’s over. And I have to be in the mood to just read and read and not care about doing anything else. Lately I’m struggling to focus on one thing. However I did read that last book I reviewed in two days. It was a YA novel, 390 pages. I skip over the descriptions that you mentioned. I prefer getting the character’s heads and action more than scene and clothing descriptions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hate the clothing descriptions unless they are totally pivotal to the plot. If you say he was on trend in short tight pants, I get the feel of who the character is. To tell me about every single thing he wears, and who designed it is overkill. I’ll read Vogue if I want that much fashion

      Liked by 1 person

  6. All good questions. Years ago movies had intermissions like plays. The audience went out to the lobby, had food and drinks, used the restroom, socialized and then went back in to finish the film. So you didn’t notice the length of the film. It was a real date night based on theatre protocol. Some theatres had live music during the intermission and theatres were two stories, elegant and gorgeous! It was like going to the opera. People even got dressed up. Eventually life became more casual. Watching films at home I pause them and come back so length doesn’t bother me.
    As far as books I don’t mind the length of s book if it’s well written. I do confess I skip or glance through superfluous violence or war scenes. Some people can’t do that. So if length matters then read shorter books. I think children’s or young adult novels shouldn’t be 500 pages . We want to encourage young readers. However if the writing is good enough they will continue to read.
    I suppose the usual 350 pages is fine. But often times leaves me wanting more. And I think oftentimes because of the popularity of self publishing many books are not edited properly.
    I don’t like super long films without intermissions. Those I prefer to watch at home on prime or Netflix. The books it’s all about the content not the amount of pages. It doesn’t matter to me.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Thanks, you made me look at my pile of books to read (10). Only 2 are less than 400 pages, most are between 400-500 pages (I acidentally bought one at Abebooks that was large print so I’m excluding that one). Three are YA/middle school books. Only 1 is under 400. I dont mind a long book if it is good. Too many authors just ramble, lacking real substance. I find 400 pages is best for me. As for movies, I love long movies, but it has to be a good story.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The rambling. That’s my issue. How much description do I really need to get the gist? How many times do they need to repeat things. If a book is good, the reader will remember

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think I’ve finally realized that it’s only rambling when it’s about something you don’t find interesting, or a topic you dislike . Example: I could read thousands of details on Patterns of bone China or flatware during various times in history, or about architectural elements through the centuries , paintings, and clothing designs forever. But it’s challenging to get through one or two paragraphs on scientific data, sports plays, or reptiles. Yuck. Game of Thrones battle scenes had me wanting to tear my hair out and throw the book in the trash. Way too much violence. So I’m convinced details are always subjective.

        In the mid 1990’s I went to a writing workshop sponsored by Florida Romance writers and mystery writers of America . We were asked to submit a prologue for a book we were writing. And award winning local authors would choose the top 4 submissions and critique them for us. Explaining positive s and negatives.

        The authors who attended (that I recall) were Florida Attorney and mystery writer Barbara Parker, romance, mystery and Paranormal writer, Heather Graham (aka Shannon Drake), Nancy J Cohen, a mystery and futuristic writer, Marilyn Campbell, Romance, mystery, paranormal writer. There was one more but I can’t remember her name. Anyhow, I was one of the four winners and so everyone read my prologue and each author critiqued it.
        All but the attorney really liked my prologue. The lawyer didn’t care for my details. Lol however,, one author stated I had to have been a horsewoman because of the perfect details of the male protagonist riding into a storm and the way he gripped the reigns, the movements of the horse etc.. She talked about how realistic it was and then asked if the author was in the room. I raised my hand. But I told her I had never ridden a horse in my life. She was surprised and asked how I knew so much about riding. I explained that I went to a local ranch and watched a host of riders and how they and their horses moved. ( please remember this was before we could just go on line and observe videos). Plus, I used method acting techniques I learned in college, combined that and wrote what I saw in my head.
        The romance authors loved my style of writing, the attention to 18th clothing, the sweep of the fabric, when the women moved or sat etc. another author commented on the preciseness of the antique China I described. And said I mentioned that I nailed the period. And the two ladies who had a mystery background picked up on the foreboding storm elements and how the setting was “deliciously spooky”. So they praised it too. But the lawyer couldn’t relate to any of that. She was a “Just the facts” kind of writer. (BTW these All were local writers who had won National awards). So I think what I learned was that details depend on specific authors and their reading audience. And on their genre. We all see things sights differently. The authors disagreed a lot with each other on what the liked for each of the four prologues they critiqued. It was interesting.

        To wrap up, I could read about a Chanel jacket and other various designs and enjoy it while those details would bore some people to death. Lol To each her/ his own.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I love fashion, but in the book I read recently there was SO MUCH talk about this designer and how much it cost and blah blah blah…

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  8. 1- I prefer shorter books, but I don’t have a preferred length. I didn’t realize it until recently, but I have a preference for chapter length. Shorter chapters appeal to me. I recently gave up on a book because the chapters were too long for me.

    2- 90-minute max

    3- I have a short attention span.

    4- I love these bullet point lists. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, I’ve never counted pages in a chapter. I’ve checked if I had a lot more pages to read before starting dinner or something. But I’m not normally bothered by lengthy chapters. In fact, when I write myself, some chapters are quite lengthy , while others are much shorter. I think for the authors… they don’t have a choice when they write. Because each chapter takes as long as it takes. I know for me, when I’m in the middle of writing, I only stop when I’m mentally and physically exhausted. And that’s when the chapter is complete. But as I’m writing my characters start developing ideas and more interesting dialogue as the story evolves and flows. I’ve never counted pages I’ve when I’m writing a chapter. I write and it ends when the characters tell me the chapter is done. That’s the best way I can explain it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think some long chapters are long because the author is throwing in too much stuff. I like the get to the point effect of short chapters. I think long chapters end up with readers often losing the point. I just had book club. People were surprised by a few things in the book, but the clue so to speak was in chapter 1, but the chapter was so long one could miss it

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  9. 300 pages or less seems ideal. I have been watching the royal funeral for hours now- not really watching I guess but it’s on the TV and OMG I get the historical significance for the country but…this is the definition of extremes. Anyway- if a book really grabs me then I can accept 300+ however not than many books really grab me anymore. It’s sort of the same with movies- 90 min. is about my max.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. With books, I guess it just depends on how good the book is. Not everything should be that long. As for movies, GWTW is long, but I could watch it anytime. Same for Lawrence of Arabia, because the stories are so well done. But in all, movies now are kind of junky and maybe the length is a plot to get you to buy more popcorn while you are at the theater.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agree on GWTW and LofA. But most movies aren’t made like that. I’m trying to think of the last longer than 2 1/2 hour movie that I saw and loved

      Like

  11. I don’t mind a lengthy book or movie, as long as it’s really good. But I do think our attention spans have been negatively impacted by social media. It’s trained our minds to seek the immediate need for stimulation. I even find myself at times, when watching a movie during a slower scene, picking up my phone and scrolling through email or Facebook. It’s a habit I would really like to stop. Because there have been times I would need to rewind, realizing I missed something vital in the storyline.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I just finished Don Quixote which was 1,000 pages long. No doubt the length of the book made it challenging. I think I prefer around 300 pages. Movies probably around an hour and a half. If anything is too long I get a little nervous about it. Such as finding a TV series to watch and it is over 10 seasons…yikes! I think my attention span is average, but sadly I have a tendency to fall asleep during shows even if I do find them interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I have read several shorter books including Shirley Jackson’s “Come Along with Me,” “We Have Always Lived in the Castle,” Eudora Welty’s “The Optimist’s Daughter” and Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea.” I enjoyed them more than any other books I’ve read the past few months. Maybe it’s because of the length — or is it the quality of the authors? FYI, you didn’t show up in my reader today.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. With the kind of work I do, I better have a good attention span (20+ Years in Quality Assurance, 15 years in scanning documents where the client wants the work to be in numerical order but whoever named the documents on their end, did it haphazardly. That was my Monday 🫤😆) as for books it’s never about length of pages it’s about quality. If something is written poorly or has filler (so many chapters of filler in the book American Psycho), as for movies I’ve seen epic films up to four hours, but I don’t think I could do that today. I’d rather stream a long movie over time than in one sitting. By the way, speaking of movies That Sidney Poitier film Patch of Blue was an incredible film, I highly recommend it.

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  15. Most of the books I read are between 300-400 pages and they hold my attention. I have read some 200 page books that I had to put down because of just not holding my attention. I have watched 3 hour movies and been hooked and watched an hour and half ones that have drug by!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Interesting questions LA. What is your preferred book length? I agree with you, my preferred book length is 350, but that’s more of a pre-purchase or shopping phenomenon. If the book is good and I’m into it, I’ll read well past 350.

    What is your preferred movie length? I’ll never forget, my wife, then fiancé, and I turning on the tv one day in the early 90s and coming across Dr. Zhivago. We didn’t know much about the movie, but started watching. We were hooked, but, when it ended 3 1/2 hours later, we promised ourselves we would check on the length of any movie before starting it in the future. Ha, ha.

    Do you have a decent attention span? I used to have one, but thanks to the cellphone, it’s not long anymore. Interesting post.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. The length of a book I’m willing to finish depends greatly on the quality of the book itself. I recently read a horrible, 90-page book that I couldn’t wait to finish. But a few weeks ago I read an 800-page book that I looked forward to getting back to whenever I had to put it down. Since I read mostly science fiction and fantasy, I’m accustomed to sitting down with a 400 or 500-page books and thinking little of it.

    Movies are the same way. If I’m enjoying the movie, I have no problem with sitting through a 3.5 hour film, but if I’m not enjoying it, a 90 minute film would make me want to pull my hair out.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Interesting discussion. Preferred length? About 300-350 pages, but I have no problem with longer books if it’s something I’m interested in. I think I have a decent attention span, but I agree that some books are overly long with unnecessary passages. I have a hard time skipping parts, though, so I usually just simmer with anger while I’m reading – not good. (example: The Name of the Rose) As for movies, 2 hours max!

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  19. I don’t really measure things out like that. I have definitely read some books where I think the author was told to fill it out to add more pages. I felt cheated by those books. There are just so many times that you can read that the main character had her usual cup of coffee and piece of toast before you want to start tearing pages out. I watch most movies through streaming so if it is long (and interesting) I divide it into two sessions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LG you are correct. Many publishers do require a certain amount of pages, so it’s understandable why authors with a contract are bound to fulfill those legal obligations.
      I do the same thing as you with movies or shows I stream. It’s on my time and I choose how I want to watch it. I’m spoiled. At home I can take a bathroom break and pause a film. I haven’t had a desire to go the movies since the pandemic began. It’s just so much easier at home.

      Liked by 2 people

  20. My issue has less to do with attention span when it comes to long books and movies than it does with some of the points you’ve made. For instance, I’ve found that more times than not a movie or book that is excessively long, is redundant and sometimes boring even, as they are covering the same ground again and again, or are adding elements not needed. I will choose to read a longer book and or movie on occasion, especially in the sci-fi fantasy realm, which are traditionally longer in both book and movie. My take…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. What I find interesting is that books ARE getting longer. I once read an analysis done of books that won the Booker Prize that showed that in the first few years, the winners tended to be books of an average of 300 pages. In 2015 the winner had 700 pages. Does that make them better? One can’t help but wonder?

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  21. I’m a 350 and less kind of girl. But I have read Lord of the rings and Game of Thrones but glad they were broken up into several books. I tend to like movies that are hour and a half or else I will fall asleep! Doesn’t matter how good the movie is I WILL FALL ASLEEP! LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I don’t mind longer books in some circumstances–historical fiction like Pillars of the Earth comes to mind.
    I have a love/hate relationship with mystery writer Elizabeth George—her stories are interesting but she could easily trim her books down by at least 10%—too many side characters and subplots.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I have a terrible attention span. I love 300-page books and two-hour movies. Having said that, I will happily read or watch longer ones as long as they are well-written and hold my interest. After all, I’m the guy who once watched 11 hours’ worth of the “Lord of the Rings” extended edition trilogy back-to-back-to-back.

    And oddly, with music, I prefer longer songs. Give me “Dogs” by Pink Floyd (17:06 of bliss) or “Telegraph Road” by Dire Straits (14:18) and I’m a happy guy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are times I love long songs…and there are times I like them short and sweet. But, that being said, Stairway, Freebird, Bohemian are the top of my list for greatest songs

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  24. I think up to 350 pages in a book is okay. Over that and I agree betete editing is warranted. For one book club, we recently read “Fanny” by Erica Jong, over 500. Definitely could have been cut substantially. Next month’s book (my selection, thou I confess I didn’t know the length, not having read it) is “The Woman They Could Not Silence.” I think 2 hours is great for a movie. I have a short attention span, but have always been that way.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Attention spans are decreasing. I don’t like longs things. I think books can be written in fewer than 100 pages, actually, but I’ll give you 200 pages of my attention. (Side note: this is why I dislike British novels; there’s too much description) (extra side note: this is partly why I love Steinbeck’s novellas).

    Movies? Give me a break. No one has three hours to devote to sitting still watching something for 180 minutes! ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY MINUTES is a long time to do anything nowadays all at once.

    *stepping off my soapbox*

    Liked by 1 person

  26. The length of a book is not important to me. What counts is if the first line, the first chapter capture my attention. I will persist for a while even if it doesn’t, but I have had one or two books that I have just stopped reading. As for my attention span it definitely is waning. I suspect everybody’s is due to modern media. We want information fast and short. It could be my age though. But I find it difficult now to read long drafts of text. Although I do persist.

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