What I have learned and loved from books has come disproportionately from very long ones. I don’t know why. Some candidate explanations are:
- Long books, done correctly, can generate compounding effects (intellectually, aesthetically, and otherwise). So it makes sense that a good 1000-page book will do more than ten good 100-page books.
- Long books aren’t intrinsically better, but having to spend so much time with a book improves my retention of it. (Sometimes I look at a YouTube lecture of something instead of reading about it in order to force myself to consume the material more slowly.)
- I’m very choosy about long books, and especially about finishing them.
- I’m wrong that I get more per page from long books; I don’t, but the total amount I get from them is bigger, and my memory tricks me into thinking it’s a bigger payoff per page.
- It’s just a psychological fact that 500 to 1000 pages is a cognitively efficient size (as, arguably, 14 lines is a cognitively efficient poem size).
- If I finish a long book I’m committed to the idea that it was worthwhile. (h/t Andrew Brokos)
- The ability to write a long book competently is a sign of extreme authorial skill. (h/t Danny Sprung)
What am I missing?