Longest Book Word Count Ranking (Top 23)
longest novels of all time

Longest Book Word Count Ranking (Top 23)

longest novels of all time

It’s funny to think how many avid readers shy away from one long book when they can read the same amount of pages each month between several short books. 

Some readers share that this is because they have a set number of books they would like to read in a year. One long book could disrupt their schedule, making them less motivated to include it in their book account. 

Another thought is that longer novels tend to do a lot of telling and not showing. Searching various forums asking the same questions, users said that reading long classic books in school, like War and Peace, “scared” them from wanting to try again. 

Overall, it seems to be a more psychological problem readers have when it comes to long novels. 

For the subset of people who are looking for their next lengthy read, you’ve come to the right place to find one. Don’t be intimidated by these word counts! Here are 23 very long books that are worth the time it takes to read them.

23. The Mysteries of Paris by Eugene Sue – 530,000 words

The book depicts the tale of a character known as Rodolphe, royal blood that impersonates a Persian worker. Rodolphe is characterized as sympathetic, social, and mysterious. 

He is considered a solid and efficient fighter, he easily conforms to every lifestyle and gains the trust of the locals.

During his escapades on the poor streets of Paris, he commits his time to saving girls that have been forced into prostitution and defending the underdogs from exploitation, all this time, the locals are oblivious to his rank as heir to a German dukedom.

22. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth – 537,674 words

The book brings attention to Lata, an Indian girl in the fictional town of Brahmpur, who is ready to be wed off by the Indian customs. Latas’ mother begins searching for a suitable boy for her daughter. After a bit of resistance, Lata finally agrees to her mother’s wishes.

This is a story of ordinary people caught up in a web of love, ambition, humor, sadness, prejudice, and reconciliation. Set in the 1950s, a time when India is newly independent and struggling, the story takes us into the richly imagined world of four large external families, their lives, and loves.

21. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo – 545,925 words

Les Miserables is a french novel that focuses on the life of a fictional character, Jean Valjean, and the interactions of several characters that play a part in his redemption. 

After nineteen years of imprisonment on the accounts of stealing a loaf of bread and numerous breakout attempts, Jean Valjean is finally released. His release forces him to face the harsh reality that comes with being an ex-convict.

Jean receives help from a kind bishop who houses him as he rebuilds his life. Jean then invents machinery that brings his town prosperity. His profound success enables him to become Mayor.

20. … and Ladies of The Book Club by Helen Hooven Santmyer – 600,000 words

The book dives into the lives of a group of women in the fictional town of Waynesboro Southwestern Ohio 1868. The women began a literacy club that became a significant community service in the town.

They go through several phases of life together from getting married to childbirth.  All this whilst trying to understand themselves and each other, tackling the ever-changing world one step at a time.

Santmyer focuses not on just the lives of women in the club but also their families and friends and politics and development in their small town and the larger world.

19. Jean-Christophe by Romain Rolland – 610,000 words

Jean Christoph is a german musician and composer in Belgium. His life is depicted from cradle to grave, giving a glimpse of his everyday struggles from spiritual to artistic. The struggles to provide for those around him and defend the honor of his friends lead to him constantly brushing with law enforcement.

Jean Christoph seeks to enjoy life. His thirst for adventure and escape from criminal charges takes him to France. After several trials and errors, Christoph finds peace again in his musical prowess. He then moves to Switzerland for change. He returns home a successful musician a decade later.

18. Remembrance Rock by Carl  – 673,000 words

Remembrance rock, a book by Carl Sandburg, is a massive chronicle with historical facts and both historical and fictional characters to depict American history from 1607 to 1945 in a mythic, passionate tribute to the American people.

The book tells about the beginnings of America.

Carl Sandburg explains how America came from being a group of colonies to being the superpower it is today. The book covers America’s four eras of history, the puritans’ founding of the Plymouth colony, the revolutionary war, the civil war, and world war two.

17. Sir Charles Grandison by Samuel Richardson – 750,000 words

The novel begins with a crime of passion and heroism. The novel follows the story of Harriet Byron, who was pursued by sir Hargrave. After rejecting his advances, Sir Hargrave kidnaps her while she attends a masquerade ball at the hay market. Sir Charles comes to her rescue. 

Byron falls in love with Sir Charles, but this is not mutual as Sir Charles had promised marriage to another woman. As fate would have it, he later ends up marrying Harriet, and they have children.

16. Miss MacIntosh, My Darling by Marguerite Young -750,000 words

Miss Maclntosh, my darling is an ambitious psychological novel, depicting the journey of the human spirit in search of reality in a world of illusion and nightmare. 

Marguerite Young states that Miss Maclntosh is the only invented character, the rest being based on real people.

The writing style is poetic and brings to light drug addiction, women suffrage, pregnancy both real and imaginary, suicide, schizophrenia, perfectionism, and the psychology of gambling.

Marguerite Young seeks to find what is real and what is a dream. Everything in this book is clear to one who sees life through the filter of death.

15. The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu – 750,000 words

The Tale of Genji is an introduction to the culture of aristocracy in early heiran Japan. Genji is a handsome, sensitive, gifted courtier, excellent lover, and a worthy friend. The novel mostly centers on Genji and each of the women in his life is vividly delineated.

The Tale of Genji is considered the world’s first novel. It was written in archaic language and later translated to modern Japanese by poet Akiko Yasano in the 20th century.  It was then translated into English in 1882 by Suematsu Kencho, though it was of poor quality. The novel is considered a classic in Japanese literature.

14. Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong – 800,000 words

The novel covers the lives of men who rose to prominence during the waning years of Han such as the Caocao or San Quan. The novel is set in the turbulent years towards the end of the Han dynasty and covers the turbulent period during which various warlords and pretenders to the throne waged constant wars and divided China into three separate kingdoms before it was finally reunited under the Jin dynasty.

The novel is one of four foundational classical novels of Chinese literature spanning over a hundred years of Chinese history. It has inspired several films and movies.

13. Shanghai by David Rotenberg – 800,000 words

Shangai is an epic novel that tells the tale of the First Emperor of China, Q’in She Huang. On his last dying breath, he leaves a sacred task to his people and the emperor’s chosen, his favorite concubine, head Confucian, and personal bodyguard.

David Rotenberg, theater director and acting coach, reveals in this book several centuries of the history of Shanghai.

12. Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin – 845,000 words

In the novel’s plot, Cao Xueqin depicts the rise and fall of the family setup, the power of a father over his family, and also as a memorial to the women he knew in his youth. 

Using a psychological scope, observing various world views, aesthetics, lifestyles, and social relations, the book has been categorized as a great classic in Chinese literature.

11. Poor Fellow My Country by Xavier Herbert – 850,000 words

Poor Fellow My Country is the longest Australian novel ever written. The book is set between 1930 and 1940 in Northern Australia. Herbert details the events of that era that shaped the country to be what it is today (ie, 1976). 

The large cast of characters featured in the book paints the picture of the racial, familial, and political disparity the country faced so long ago. It’s a long flight to Australia from the states, better take this read along with you to keep you occupied!

10. Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady by Samuel Richardson – 969,000 words

Clarissa was quite the scandalous novel for readers in 1748. Clarissa Harlowe’s family arranged for her to marry a man she loathed, and unsure of what to do, she runs away with the charming Robert Lovelace. But Robert isn’t the gentleman Clarissa thought he was. 

After she avoids his first few sexual advances, she finds herself falling for him. Robert’s character in Clarrisa is known in the literature world as one of the most charming villains a writer has ever thought up. 

9. A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell – 1 million words

After WWI and at the start of the Spanish Flu comes Anthony Powell’s epic piece, A Dance to the Music of Time. Nick Jenkins, a writer, and three friends of his introduce themselves to art, business, sex, and society. Each one and their distinct personalities make this long read go by quickly!

8. My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgård – 1 million words

My struggle is a translation from the Norwegian name Min Kamp. It is a 6-book biography that covers the private life of Karl Ove Knausgard. The series is very popular in Norway.

The story offers an in-depth exploration of his life and his actual family members. It outlines his life’s humiliations, private pleasures, and dark thoughts.

7 . Sironia, Texas by Madison Cooper  – 1.1 million words

Sironia, Texas made headlines in 1952 for being the longest book written and published to date. Author Madison Cooper spent eleven years writing about a fictional town many say has ties to where Cooper grew up in Waco, Texas. 

Many of the characters were based on people Cooper knew, and people used to play guessing games to figure out which character portrayed a person in Waco. Before he passed, he burned his notes that revealed the true identity of those people. 

Sironia, Texas was on the New York Times bestseller list for 11 weeks, and the net he grossed in sales went to a charitable foundation he set up that’s helped various nonprofits in the area. 

6. Bottom’s Dream by Arno Schmidt – 1.3 million words

Bottom’s Dream, known as Zettel’s Traum in German, entered circulation in 1970. English translations hit the market in 2016. 

Arno Schmidt took his inspiration from James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. In particular, Schmidt leveraged Joyce’s use of columns from the previously released novel. 

Zettel’s Traum follows a couple who is translating Edgar Allan Poe’s works. Despite being over 1,300 pages long, the story occurs over a 25-hour timespan. Its unique style employs a Freudian understanding of language and distinct typographic features.

5. Gordana by Marija Jurić Zagorka – 1.4 million words

This is the longest Croatian novel to ever hit the market. Divided into 3 parts. The novel takes place between 1458 and 1490, when Matthias Corvinus was king. 

It is detailing events after Covinus’ death, following the strife between his widowed wife Beatrice of Naples and his illegitimate son Janos, who fought to take over the throne.

This resulted in the battle of Mohács in the early 16th century. But this is just the backstory that ushers in the protagonist, Gordana Brezovacka, the fictional heroine who throughout the novel asserts her undying love for her country.

4. In Search of Lost Time (A la recherche du temps perdu) by Marcel Proust – 1.5 million words

French author Marcel Proust began writing In Search of Lost Time in 1909, completing the entire volume set in 1922. The novel recounts the experiences of the unnamed narrator while he is growing up. You hear about what it was like to learn about art, participate in society, and fall in love. 

The novel made an immense impact on writers at the time of its publication, and many say it is one of the most respected novels of the twentieth century.

3. Artamane ou le Grand Cyrus by Madeleine de Scudacry2.1 million words

One of the greatest love stories ever told is also one of the longest love stories ever told. At roughly 2.1 million words, Artamane ou le Grand Cyrus was written in installments over four years. Most of the plot is broken up into “histories” to keep better track of the 400 characters and 100 different settings. 

At the heart of the story are two characters, the male hero Cyrus, and Mandana, who is always being taken from her home. Between 1649 and 1653, the French couldn’t wait to get their hands on the next segment of Madeleine de Scudacry’s epic tale.

2. Marienbad My Love by Mark Leach  – 2.5 million words

Mark Leach published Marienbad’s My Love in 2008 which dwarfed all other long novels with a word count of 2.5 million words. The book reads like a summer blockbuster about the end of the world.

A Christian filmmaker finds himself stuck on a deserted island he calls Marienbad with the woman he loves. Except, she doesn’t know who he is. The story takes a turn when the Apocalypse is near, but even for this Christian filmmaker, it’s not how the bible describes how the world will end. If you have the time, download the ebook and see what Leach’s version of the Apocalypse looks like.

1. The Blah Story by Nigel Tomm  – 3.2 million words

The Blah Story is the longest book ever written, published in 23 volumes. It is hard to describe what the book is about because part of it is up to you. 

The concept of the book puts you behind the typewriter and conceives the text however you’d like. You’ll have to download it to understand it for yourself!


Think Gone With the Wind was a long one with 426,590 words? Think again. Challenge yourself this summer by reading a long book. Some of these are hard to come by anymore, but you can still see what your librarians recommend for a lengthy read. 

The longest novels require a strategy to power through them all on time. Do so with our online Speed Reading courses to fly through more than one of these books on this list.

Reading More Than One Book at a Time (9 Incredible Benefits)
What Is Intentional Reading and Why Should You Practice It?


  • Julian

    The minibus Saba I has 25.6 million words and 4,891pages,

  • Ashelia

    The Wandering Inn is still being written and is comfortably sitting at over 12 million words. Should be counted since the first place here is published in volumes much like The Wandering Inn. There are another one I heard of at 17+ million words as well but I have forgotten the name so can only guarantee The Wandering Inn, by pirateaba.

  • Bill

    Came here because I found a fanfic 3.4 million long. Some writers are truly terrifying

  • Carly

    The Malazan Book of the Fallen is longer with 3.5 million words…

  • Just another guy

    Mahabharata should be 4th longest book, at 1.8 million words

  • Ryan

    Yep. Half way thru my 2nd re-read.

    • Kexqtr

      And here in 2023 with AO3 writers writing gojo will live over and over with over 20 million words

  • George

    The Malazan Book of the Fallen is 3.5 million words. Just saying