I did it. I finally read The Pillars of the Earth. Well, listened to the audiobook, but it’s basically the same. I’ve been tackling some of the most intimidating books on my TBR this year, and finishing this one felt like a huge achievement. Not just because it’s been sitting on my shelves for years, but also because it is, to date, the longest audiobook I’ve ever listened to. And that list includes Alexander Hamilton and A Game of Thrones.
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
Read by John Lee
40 hours and 55 minutes
Like I said, The Pillars of the Earth has been on my TBR for a really, really long time. But nearly a thousand pages of historical fiction seemed like a lot. This is an incredibly intimidating book (and that’s coming from someone who has read War and Peace). But I felt like it was time to face my fears. And it ended up being 100% worth it. I loved this book so much. It immediately became one of my favorite books. I was honestly a bit skeptical about how much a story about a fictional cathedral could impact me, but it ended up being so much more than that.
The characters were just incredibly human, in the best way. They’re strong and flawed and doing what they can under sometimes terrible circumstances. Their lives broke my heart more than I thought possible. And it was enough for me to commit a grave bookworm sin: I spoiled myself on purpose because I couldn’t bear to wait to see if certain things worked out. This book is really long, and I knew I wouldn’t have a lot of time to keep listening for a couple days, and I knew it wouldn’t be healthy to be so angry and fictional characters for an entire weekend. So, fair warning, you won’t want to put this book down. (I don’t think the spoiler ruined anything for me, and I don’t regret it at all, because I could listen to the final 18 hours of the book without wanting to scream.)
Even though The Pillars of the Earth hurt my heart – seriously, it was Game of Thrones-level brutal – I loved it. The story, the characters, the setting were all so incredibly real and I felt really connected to all of it. I don’t remember the last time a book made me so viscerally angry at times – there were at least two characters I was very much hoping to see die violent deaths – and I think that’s a testament to how immersive this story is. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever
read listened to, and I am very much looking forward to reading more of Ken Follett’s work.
*Trigger warning for rape and murder*
If you’re interested in this audiobook, you can use this link to sign up for a free trial of Audible, and choose The Pillars of the Earth one of your two free books!
I hope you enjoyed this post! If you have a favorite audiobook, share it in the comments – I’m always looking for good audiobook recommendations. (I recently got a pair of AirPods and have been listening to audiobooks pretty much nonstop as a way of ignoring people.)