Number of words in a novel and another list

I love lists and am always intrigued by “must read” book lists. Have I read “the right” books? Have I read “the necessary” books? So this morning as I was writing my morning pages, I started to wonder how many words are in a novel. I did a quick search and found an interesting article in the Huffington Post: Average Book Length: Guess How Many Words are in a Novel.

They included a great list! What I like so much about this list is that it was created to show one thing, but also shows another. It was created to give us an idea of how many words are in various novels, but while doing so has picked out famous novels that we’ll recognize. So, it is, at least to me, a “to read” book list as well.

  • Animal Farm: 29,966 words
  • Ethan Frome: 30,191 words
  • The Crying of Lot 49: 46,573 words
  • Slaughterhouse-Five 5: 47,192 words
  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle: 53, 510 words
  • Lord of the Flies: 62, 481 words
  • Brave New World: 64,531 words
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: 70,570 words
  • Portnoy’s Complaint: 78,535 words
  • Lolita: 112,473 words
  • Madame Bovary: 117,963 words
  • Mansfield Park: 159,344 words
  • Moby Dick: 209,117 words
  • East of Eden: 226,741 words
  • Ulysses: 262,869 words
  • Middlemarch: 310,593 words
  • War and Peace: 544,406 words

I think the average comes out to around 64,000 words. I think I enjoy novels that are more on the short side. Although I loved Anna Karenina, so I guess if you use a lot of words, they better mean something.

My challenge to myself starting today is to write 2,000 words a day for the next 32 days. I’ll worry about editing later. Join me if you want and let me know how it goes. It can be any style. It can even be several styles. Completely disjointed is what I’m trying for. The bar is low. The only requirement is to show up.

Happy writing!

10 thoughts on “Number of words in a novel and another list”

  1. I’m in. It’s like NaNoWriMo in May! I’ve started today and so far I have 576 words. I’m going to combine my word counts because I’m working on a couple things at the same time. Great idea! Thanks for the challenge!


    1. Yay! I’m glad you’re going to join me. That definitely makes it more fun. So far, I have figured out a question that has been plaguing me for years. I’m also recording several ideas I’ve been having for themes. I’ve been listening to Ted Talks about creativity. Elizabeth Gilbert gave a great talk. You should Google it. It gave me a new perspective.


  2. I watched that video and I loved it. Thanks for the recommendation. How’s the challenge going? I haven’t met 2000 words yet…1300 on day one and 1800 on day two. Perhaps tomorrow will see me triumphant.


    1. I’ve been using my morning pages to complain, so it hasn’t been too hard to hit my word count. 🙂

      This weekend, I’m going to go through my box of notes and identify projects to work on. Then I’ll try to work on more focused themes. For example, I’ve been thinking about writing a memoir. So my morning pages would be focused on particular scenes.

      I also wanted to work on some short stories (since I’m horrible at them and I think they’re the ticket to bigger things.)

      Glad you liked Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED Talk. When I listen to these talks, I get a lot of writing ideas.

      Keep me posted. Good luck this weekend!


      1. Thank you. It looks like I’m going to hit my goal today. I still have a little left to do so I’m not positive where I’m at, but I wrote like crazy today. I’ve been trying to get more focused as well because my job has me here, there, and everywhere it’s hard to find time to squeeze in the writing. I need to be ready for writing whenever I get a moment.


      2. I’m having the same problem finding time. I’m trying to make it the first thing I do every day. I say that, but yesterday I didn’t do it. I got caught up thinking and writing about a TED Talk (Does that count for words?). And today, I’m starting to feel some resistance, so I guess I’ll do it right now. 🙂


      3. I’ve been combining my different projects. I’m writing a couple different stories and my blog posts and writing class homework…I think that’s cheating, but I doing it that way anyway 🙂 This has helped me stay more focused…Though this weekend is going horribly for writing…


    1. Of course! Please do. My 2000 words over the last couple of days morphed into a couple of blog posts. Since I said that everything related to writing is fair game—no judgment—I guess those count. I do mine first thing in the morning. If I don’t write then, I probably won’t because I’m too exhausted in the evening.

      When I get stuck, I just go with stream of consciousness and write anything that comes to mind. Just keep those fingers moving. 🙂


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