The Long Version, Please


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I don’t like abridged books.

Yes, I understand the unabridged Les Miserables is nearly 1500 pages, and Victor Hugo spends 50+ pages setting up the Bishop who gives Jean Valjean the candlesticks–a scene the movie/play does in 5 minutes flat.

Yes, I understand Leviticus is strange and long and full of skin diseases and that we don’t even practice animal sacrifices any more.

Yes, I understand the plot of Moby-Dick–you know, hunting that whale–is a bit overwhelmed with voluminous details on whale anatomy and the art of harvesting the oil.

Yes, I understand that Tom Clancy gives you every intricate detail of the politics and military movements of his characters and that Robert Jordan has a penchant for making sure you know exactly what everyone is wearing.

And I’m okay with that.

What saves a cookie-cutter Hollywood plot are the non-essential flourishes, the little sidetracks from the traditional plot structure.

Because fiction isn’t about trying to absorb as many plot points as possible as quickly as possible. The things that don’t make it into Cliff Notes are what make books worth reading. The style, the digressions, the turns of phrases, the banter, the atmosphere, the foreshadowing, the hints of something greater.

It seems to me that by abridging a book, you cut out its soul.


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  1. I don’t know how much homework your school assigns their students, but the schools my children attended assigned so much homework (3-4 hrs total from English, writing & mathematical classes every night,) and add to that their extracurricular activities, unfortunately once, or twice they had to rely on cliff notes just to go to bed hours past their bedtime. Not making excuses, just stating facts, but as an avid reader these facts are sad because reading a book, then watching the movie based on the book, usually is a disappointment, because of the very same reason, details or the soul of the book is deleted.

    • Granted, life gets in the way of long books, sometimes, especially for deadlines. I read Les Miserables on and off for several years, I think. 😉