“Quality over quantity.” It’s a phrase we’ve all heard at some point or another, that has a very specific and important meaning. Just because you do or create a lot of something, doesn’t always necessarily mean it’s a good thing, for quality is always a key factor… and this especially goes hand-in-hand when it comes to books.
I remember making this observation to my mom about a month or so ago about how books these days appear to be getting longer and longer (ironically at a time when people aren’t reading as much for fun), whereas books like the ones we were forced to read in high school English classes were actually pretty short. She had never thought of it that way until I brought it up to her then, and mentioned how I make a good point.
Think about it. Take John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men for instance. I’m sure many of us have read that book in high school. And yet note how short it is according to this paperback edition; it’s only 103 pages. Depending on the size of the font, it’s more of a novella than a novel. Another example: Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. While slightly longer than Of Mice and Men, according to Goodreads, this edition of the novel is 132 pages, which is still pretty short. There’s even Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 to consider, for this edition listed of it is 227 pages. Despite being a longer book than the first two I named, that’s still pretty short.
I’m assuming this goes for anyone who read these books in high school, but at the time I read them, I certainly didn’t think too much about the length, for we would never simply read it all the way through without in-class discussions in between chapters, taking quizzes on it, and, by the time I reached my junior year, annotating the text as well. With those tasks in between, it took the reading experience of these novels extend out a lot longer than it would normally take when just simply reading them. It wasn’t until two years ago when I read Fahrenheit 451 again, just for the heck of it, that I realized just how short of a novel it is.
So what’s changed since then? I guess one factor to the longer novels that are around nowadays have to do with the numerous series that exist now as opposed to before. The more context in one novel after another, the better. There’s also the ongoing trend nowadays of turning novels into movie and TV adaptations, so it could be to provide enough content as possible to refer back to if ever chosen for such an adaptation. Perhaps it’s also for the wider options of what to write about now and how to go about it that, perhaps, seemed more taboo to write and publish if it were several decades ago. Look at The Game of Thrones books for instance. Those books are really long, and if you read them- or watch the TV adaptation of it on HBO- you’ll see how it’s all full of sex, blood and violence. I’m not sure if George R. R. Martin would have gotten away with writing these books had it been the 1950’s or sometime even earlier than that.
Regardless of the reason why books are longer nowadays, one thing that seems to stick out is that just because the book is long, doesn’t mean they’re all that good quality-speaking. One could tell a good story without having to make the book the weight of a cinder block, which is why the books I named early are the widely read classics that they are, despite their short length. The quality of a book applied then, just as well as it applies in today’s time too.
For example: I would recommend Haruki Murakami’s After Dark over 1Q84. I read the latter just last summer, and while the story was interesting, there were just too many times where it dragged out unnecessarily too long. After Dark is a fairly short novel, and a very well written one too. Plus, it too tells just as interesting of a story without being dragged out longer than need be. Another example can be J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I personally think that that was the weakest written novel in the series (even though it was the longest one), for once again it dragged out unnecessarily too long, with details that ultimately contributed nothing to the overall plot. That’s why I- funny enough- like the film adaptation of the book better, for it gets to the core plot of it all.
Of course this is not always the case. Not all long novels aren’t in great quality. In fact, I’ve read quite a few that are really good. It’s with that that I must admit I was a little worried when I realized just how short my first novel was compared to novels out on the market nowadays. But then I think back about the quality of the short novels that are considered classics now, and how some of the really long novels of today may not in the best of quality contextually speaking; and how I realize now is that so long as I’m telling a good, interesting story, that’s all that really matters. That’s really what makes a good writer: quality over quantity.
A Moment’s Worth is now available through the following venues: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, iTunes. Please leave a review if you can, for my goal is to get a total of at least 20 reviews on all venues (so far, I’ve gotten 7 reviews so I’m already past a quarter of a way to my goal).
Check out its Goodreads page, which includes two trivia quizzes for all who’ve completed reading it already.