Less is more?

Close readers of this blog will not be surprised to hear that I completely agree with William Grimes on the blessing of smaller books. In the New york Times Grimes approvingly makes note of the wide variety of slim but potent books being packaged today. This is in contrast to the seeming bulge of so many books – fiction and non-fiction alike. Grimes is not against larger volumes per se but is happy with the sub trend of less is more:

All books should be exactly as long as they need to be. There is no ideal length. But like mainstream Hollywood films, nonfiction books have shown a tendency to expand in recent years, for no particular reason.

And he notes that size doesn’t always equal readability: “It’s worth pointing out that long books can seem short, and vice versa.”

I have found myself attracted to these smaller works (I have five of the works listed in Grimes’s sidebar) because I simply don’t have the time and dedication that larger works require. If one is to tackle a 500 plus page tome you have to have sizable chunks of time available to do it justice. Reading a few pages a night isn’t going to get you much. With the smaller volumes you can dedicate less time and still get the satisfaction of finishing the story. With the non-fiction side you can still brush up your history or enlarge your knowledge base without feeling like you are returning to grad school (I also happen to love book series that are well designed and packaged). In my estimation the ease with which one can write has not necessarily resulted in improved prose but rather longwindedness at almost all levels. Same with movies and music in many instances. So I am with Grimes: “Give me more. I mean, less.”

Since I seem to be asking questions these days, let me throw this out there: Do you find yourself attracted to smaller works? Or do you dive in based on subject/author rather than length? Are you turned off from books like The Historian, for example, by its length (656 pages)?

***Hat Tip: Booksquare

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

1 Comment

  1. I am a slow reader, so when I find something that looks interesting and short, I am more enthused than if it were longer. But the size of the book, unless it’s as big as an lit anthology, doesn’t influence me much. A little, but not much.

    For instance, I look forward to reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, which is huge; but I don’t care about The Historian. I’m with David. I don’t like vampires.

Comments are closed.