Heavy reading

Juliet Barker's lives of the Brontës may be a doorstopper, but it's hardly the only one this season resisting quick consumption. The following three tomes don't beg so much as wallop you on the head with their sheer size.

Winter of the World
Book Two of the Century Trilogy

Ken Follett
Dutton: 941 pp., $36

The medium-sized thriller "Eye of the Needle," published back at the start of Follett's career in the late 1970s, was a red herring. Since then, Follett has served up expansive epics like "The Pillars of the Earth" and "World Without End," which embrace the medieval world, and "The Century Trilogy," which chronicles the lives of five families in times of social and historical tumult. That trilogy's second installment, "Winter of the World," opens with the rising of the Third Reich, the Spanish Civil War and rumblings of discontent that would shake the world for decades. (September)


Far from the Tree
Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity

Andrew Solomon
Scribner: 976 pp., $35

"How is any parent to know whether to erase or celebrate a given characteristic?" asks the author, who answers this question by looking at families whose members have been affected by dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism and more. Solomon ("The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression") spent 10 years writing this book, and he draws on thousands of pages of interviews with hundreds of families — no wonder it's nearly a thousand pages long. (November)


The Last Lion
Winston Spencer Churchill, Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965

William Manchester and Paul Reid
Little, Brown: 1,232 pp., $40

"The Last Lion" opens as the Third Reich casts its shadow over Europe and charts the final decades of one of England's most remarkable prime ministers. "Monumental" not only applies to this story — it also fits the efforts of co-author Reid, who completed the manuscript after Manchester's death in 2004. (November)



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