What is your long Kindle book?

by on March 12, 2013 at 7:57 am in Books, Religion | Permalink

Everyone should have a long book on their Kindle that they otherwise would never read.  Then, when you don’t feel like starting a whole new book on your Kindle, you dig into a small piece of your long book.  And stop.  As the years pass, you may eventually finish your long book (or not).

The long book on my Kindle is John Calvin’s The Institutes of the Christian Religion.  It’s impressive.  I don’t agree with Calvin, either theologically or temperamentally, but he is an extremely sharp thinker and writer, too often neglected for his extreme “Calvinism.”

After three years, I’m about eighteen percent finished.  And someday I hope to read more works by Calvin, although not someday anytime soon.

What is the long book on your Kindle?

Addendum: Kevin Drum comments.

mph March 12, 2013 at 8:00 am

The six volumes of Gibbon’s “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”

Alan March 12, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Mommsen’s history of Rome has been my companion for weeks.

Andrew McDowell March 12, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Gibbon here too – I thought it was the obvious choice. But for me the great temptation of the Kindle is to turn it into a mini-library, so I’ve also got (amongst others) The Origin of Species and The Bible, and will probably get the Illiad. Hurray for progress! I’ll take an easily portable library over a flying car any day.

michael March 12, 2013 at 5:13 pm

A few months back the had the entire six volume Kindle set on sale at Amazon for $5.99……could not resist that deal

Hunter March 12, 2013 at 9:18 pm

Same here! still just 12% complete…

zbicyclist March 12, 2013 at 8:24 am

Mark Twain’s “Innocents Abroad”. Twain read in short doses is just fine.

Twain’s “Following the Equator” was an earlier “book in the background”.

john personna March 12, 2013 at 12:36 pm

You might like “‘around the world in the yacht sunbeam” (if you have not already found it.)

jadraki March 12, 2013 at 8:34 am

Both Homer poems and Virgil’s Aeneid

Kitty_T March 12, 2013 at 11:23 am

Those 3 (I did finish the Iliad) and the Divine Comedy.

peter March 12, 2013 at 8:37 am

Brothers K

once advised to re-read it every ten years or so, like the “always just there” plan better

Jonathan March 12, 2013 at 8:40 am

The Holy Bible. Three chapters a day.

James March 12, 2013 at 8:40 am

John Ryan’s “Living Wage”. Not a long book by any means, but it is the one I am currently reading in bits and pieces.

Zach March 12, 2013 at 8:40 am

Sherlock Holmes and/or Wooster and Jeeves stories

Brian March 12, 2013 at 8:44 am

Gibbon and Homer’s Odyssey

RPLong March 12, 2013 at 8:44 am

Mine is Man, Economy, and State, but a few hundred pages in, I feel I am unlikely to ever finish. I expected more.

Julian Berengaut March 12, 2013 at 8:48 am

“This, reader, is an honest book.”
Michel de Montaigne, of course.

Doug March 12, 2013 at 8:49 am

Shogun, but I’m actually about halfway through. Also, George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire Series, which I am re-reading.

Roy March 12, 2013 at 8:49 am

Montaigne (25% and it is astonishing how selective his quotations are) and Amadis of Gaul (not even close)

Layne Ainsworth March 12, 2013 at 8:57 am


Gibbons’ “Decline and Fall”

Karl Popper “The Logic of Scientific Discovery”

and, of course “Brothers K”.

Plus, just finished “Anna Karenina”!

Marie March 12, 2013 at 8:58 am

I have a paper copy of Mathematics for the Million that I’d like to have on my Kindle, but it doesn’t seem to be available. It’s a great book to read a chapter or so at a time, but it’s too big to haul around easily.

Quigley March 12, 2013 at 10:18 am

Wow, I’ve got that book too. Mine is a red hardcover and probably about 60 years old. I think I got it from one of my old girlfriend’s dad about thirty years ago. Haven’t looke at it in about 15 years.

Mark Thorson March 12, 2013 at 11:33 pm

That’s the second edition, which was the first to have an index. Unfortunately, the third edition replaced all of the figures drawn by Horrabin with figures drawn in a more modern style. I do not care for the third edition at all, but if this book were available for Kindle it would probably be the third edition.

TerriW March 12, 2013 at 9:04 am

I would love to switch over my H.L. Mencken _The American Language_ to the Kindle but for some crazy reason, that version is 40 dollars. So, paper it stays. (Well, there does appear to be a very poorly OCR’d version for six bucks. I’ll continue to hold out.)

Heck, I’ve been reading that one in nibs and nubs since college. (Almost 20 years!)

Michael Barry March 12, 2013 at 9:08 am

Mine is Les Miserables (Julie Rose translation) — 20%. Might I say that, for anyone interested in that sort of thing, John Calvin’s commentaries are less exacting, and just as well written, as the Institutes and well worth a read, in just the “dip into” reading style TC suggests.

Rahul March 12, 2013 at 9:27 am

Les Mis for me too.

Sol March 12, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Me too, though I’m reading Les Mis in an old public domain unabridged English version from Project Gutenberg. (I compared it with a sample of one of the modern versions when I decided I wanted to read it, and the old free one was the clear winner IMO.) 42% complete in about a year’s worth of reading.

Urso March 12, 2013 at 9:09 am

War & Peace. Started it while sitting in court waiting for jury duty. Have made, to be polite, sporadic progress since then.

The real questino is what kind of a donation Jeff Bezos had to make to the Mercatus Center to change the post from its original title “What is your long generic non-branded electronic reading device book?”

Nathan Goldblum March 12, 2013 at 12:47 pm

I spoke to a translator of War & Peace at a dinner party once, and complained that I was pressed to finish it. He told me I could just skip a hundred pages ahead if I was bored.

Mine is the Mishneh Torah.

babar March 12, 2013 at 9:14 am

moby dick, which is so good that it could swallow my whole life.

next up, i was thinking spinoza, if i could find a decently-formatted copy.

Michael March 12, 2013 at 1:12 pm

The zone of privacy for religious belief was I think ultimately endorsed by Pope Leo XIII, probably one of the few people who could have read Spinoza’s Ethics in the original Latin. Is the book worth reading other than for this central idea?

Ryan Miller March 12, 2013 at 1:29 pm

I wouldn’t call that the “central idea” of Spinoza’s Ethics…most centrally, it’s a long argument for pantheism.

Dave March 12, 2013 at 7:46 pm

Ou peut-être c’était athéisme. Je ne sais pas.

Jonathan March 12, 2013 at 9:21 am

The Collected Works of Sir Walter Scott: So far, I’ve only read Guy Mannering

Padraic March 12, 2013 at 9:22 am


Kevin V March 12, 2013 at 9:23 am

I also have the Institutes, along with the collected works of Jonathan Edwards.

Chris Oakes March 12, 2013 at 9:24 am

I bought “Gotham” by Burrows and Wallace when it was on sale for a buck or so. I’ve barely started it, and it’s intimidating, but it’s on the Kindle for someday.

EdH March 12, 2013 at 9:26 am

The Philokalia (Complete Text). It was a long book on the shelves for a while and now on the Kindle. Been reading pieces parts for over 20 years now.

bdnyc March 12, 2013 at 9:32 am

Not on my Kindle, but Goedel, Escher and Bach by Douglas Hofstadter is the book by my bed that has been there for 5 years and will continue to be there for 5 more years. Great book, too long and it takes too long to read (and think about) each page.

ben March 12, 2013 at 9:59 am

Great book, and an example of one that almost has to be read in its paper form.

Sol March 12, 2013 at 5:05 pm

I can certainly imagine an worthwhile e-version, with high quality recordings of the music to listen to, tools to make the proofs more accessible, hyperlinks, etc. But yeah, it sure seems like a standard lo-res text dump would be a serious downgrade to the book.

Widmerpool March 12, 2013 at 9:34 am

William Trevor – The Collected Stories

Adam March 12, 2013 at 9:41 am

I recently downloaded Bleak House, which I did dip into over time. I ended up finishing it, though, so I guess it doesn’t count. I will say the new Kindle’s “time left in this book” feature is alternately motivating and maddening, particularly when it seems to move backwards. I will also say that the new Kindle’s updated search features are very handy for looking up incidental characters in Victorian novels whose story you’ve forgotten.

There are a lot of abandoned books on my Kindle. Ones I may dip back into over time: collected works of Mark Twain and Alex Ross’ The Rest Is Noise, which I like, but really needs to be accompanied with an exploration of the music he is writing about. Other someday books: Gibbons, Caro, and more of the Taylor Branch history books.

Vladimir March 12, 2013 at 9:42 am

Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind. However I am not convinced that the version I have has, as claimed, been translated into English.

TomM March 12, 2013 at 10:00 am

Having studied Hegel at university, your comment made me smile and I wanted you to know that! That might be the only thing philosophers can agree on…

Bruce B March 12, 2013 at 9:48 am

Question for the commenters: What is your favorite source for **well-formatted** out of copyright books? Maybe this should be two questions: what is your favorite source for free copies, and what is your favorite source for nominally priced copies (say $0.49-$1.99)?

I’ve been plowing through some old Jules Verne.

zbicyclist March 12, 2013 at 9:53 am

Project Gutenberg is the obvious nominee here.

bluto March 12, 2013 at 11:19 am

Amazon sells more than a few Project Gutenberg copies, as well, generally for free.

Sol March 12, 2013 at 5:06 pm

I love Project Gutenberg, but at least as they read on my Android’s Kindle reader, they definitely would not qualify as well-formatted. Typesetting mistakes are very common.

J. March 12, 2013 at 11:11 am

Project Gutenberg is excellent, but you will find many treasures free of charge (or almost) on Amazon as well. Use the filtering function, and Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought will help you further.

Ak Mike March 13, 2013 at 12:58 am

A lot of formatting work has gone into the books at mobileread.com. I believe that the books at feedbook.com and manybooks.net have also had formatting work done. All public domain and free.

TB March 12, 2013 at 9:48 am

The Archives of Marginal Revolution.

Juan Bosco March 12, 2013 at 9:49 am

“Mystical City of God” by Maria de Agreda. I pick a chapter at random and read it (they are short). I think Calvin would have benefitted from it tremendously. There are free copies for download on the web if you look around.

Habibullah Khan March 12, 2013 at 9:58 am

Ada or Ardor by Nabokov. You can’t read much of it in one go because the brilliance leaves you breathless. No I mean actually breathless so you think you may just have a heart attack if you read a paragraph more and I have never had the courage to try.

ben March 12, 2013 at 10:05 am

Marcus Aurelius, “Meditations”, not long at all but readable in small bites and almost every line in it bears repeating.

Daryl March 12, 2013 at 10:07 am

Democracy in America – Volumes 1 & 2 by Alexis De Tocqueville and Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes.

jtf March 12, 2013 at 10:28 am

I, too, work through De Tocqueville. I am also somewhere in volume 2 of Runciman’s History of the Crusades.

linda seebach March 13, 2013 at 3:22 am

De Tocqueville for me. It’s amazing how many things he got right, and also amazing which things he got spectacularly wrong.

David March 12, 2013 at 10:27 am

“Thinking, Fast and Slow” – I normally get through books at a quick clip, but this one has turned into a long read for me.

J. March 12, 2013 at 10:30 am

The Cambridge Medieval History volumes 1-5 by J.B.Bury, Length: 4055 pages (estimated).
I also have The Complete Sherlock Holmes (Collection of all his adventures, 9 Volumes in one Book) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Length: 1743 pages (estimated), and Complete Works of Charles Dickens (Illustrated)

KenF March 12, 2013 at 10:32 am

Middlemarch, it took me over a year to finish. Now Les Miserables.

C March 12, 2013 at 10:38 am

Bleak House

RV March 12, 2013 at 10:51 am

The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories, edited by Jeff and Ann VanderMeer. Most of it is great, but I can only read a few of them before I need a break.

TheCrankyProfessor March 12, 2013 at 10:53 am

I have Sherlock Holmes and the Bible for this. And the Iliad on iPod; it’s really good in 20 minute walk-to-work chunks between other Audible downloads.

Elwin March 12, 2013 at 11:09 am

The Origin of Species.

John Brennan March 12, 2013 at 11:30 am

Grant’s Memoirs.

Jens Fiederer March 12, 2013 at 11:31 am

Two, actually:

Collected works of William Shakespeare, maybe half of the way through. Only planning to read the plays, I find many of the sonnets tedious (a few are marvelous, though).

Churchill’s series, starting with The Gathering Storm (which is the only one I have finished so far)

FredR March 12, 2013 at 11:38 am

Hippolyte Taine “History of English Literature”.

Patrick March 12, 2013 at 11:44 am

This is a great idea. I was going to go for Churchill’s History of the English Speaking People but can’t find it on Kindle… Will go with his WWII history instead.

Jim March 12, 2013 at 11:55 am

Amazing Spider Man: The Complete Collection

Tim March 12, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Gotham. Purchased in Dec 2010.

sara March 12, 2013 at 12:56 pm


Walt G March 12, 2013 at 1:10 pm

Timbuctoo by Tahir Shah.

$50 in hardcover, $3 on the Kindle.

Walt G March 12, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Oh, and the complete Oz series.

Matt C March 12, 2013 at 1:14 pm

I believe I also have Gibbon on there. Wealth of Nations (yeah, I’ve never actually read it), Origin of Species, some other good ones from Gutenburg.

But I find I don’t use the Kindle much anymore now that the new has worn off. It’s good for travelling, but we don’t travel that much. Otherwise I still prefer paper. I doubt I’ll get far far on any of these.

Urso March 12, 2013 at 3:16 pm

I read Wealth of Nations (well, most of it…) in college, from an old bound edition that was probably ~100 years old. It smelled just like library. It was how that book was meant to be read. I imagine Gibbon is best experienced the same way.

Maybe the Kindle 3 will have scratch n sniff.

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