I have realized that I avoid big books. Not even subconsciously anymore. I think I used to not realize I did it, but now I low key look at Goodreads for a page count before starting a book. Even a book that I am looking forward to. A beloved series sequel, an anticipated debut, I do not discriminate with my terror when faced with anything over 400 pages. Some people get giddy excited when they hear that the next book in a series, or a new one from a favorite author, has a large number of pages. I am over here wondering if I ever really cared about that shit to begin with.

So I also realized, there is a process. I don’t just not read the book, of course. No, I go through some kind of nonsense before I actually give in and read it… but there are quite a few still on my shelves, of course 😉

Step 1: Avoidance

A long book usually spends a lot of time collecting dust on my bookshelf before being read. There are a few exceptions but this is mostly true. If I see a book I am super excited about but it’s also really long, and a book I am only “meh” about that is really short… the “meh” one wins almost every time. This is a ridiculous way to choose books, and I do not recommend.

Hmmm which will I choose?? 🤔

Step 2: Negotiations

“Okay”, I will say to myself. “I will definitely read X book next. Just… let me read this shorter one really quickly.” Which then leads to “Hm, but now I do have those review books to read so… it might have to wait. Sad. Next time, for sure.”

Step 3: Denial

This works as follows:

  • “Eh, the book isn’t even that good probably. Bet it suffers from sequel syndrome. Probably shouldn’t put that kind of time into it.”
  • “Well sure, everyone and their mom loved it, but that is what makes the ‘hype monster’ so insufferable, yes? Best to avoid. I’ll let Cynthia read it first, she’s my book twin.”
  • “Really, it’s just too many pages to read to end up being a black sheep. I heard a rumor it has bird people anyway.”

Step 4: Irrational Thoughts and Comparisons

I will remind myself of times that I did actually read a lot of pages and hated the book. Which of course also happens with small books, but that is why these are irrational thoughts.  For example, if a series finale is really long, the narrative in my head goes something along the lines of hearing a whisper yammering on about how City of Heavenly Fire wasted entirely too much of my time. Or how I keep reading the Throne of Glass series and yet I never am fully happy that I have read the books. 

But then I neglect to remind myself of the amazing long books that I have loved. Like The Host. Or The Beauty of Darkness. Or the entirely of the Chaos Walking series. When I look at my favorites shelf, there’s a pretty solid mix of long, short, and everywhere in between, but for some reason, I let this weird hangup stop me all the time.

Step 5: Disdain

This is when the book taunts me from my shelf. Everyone I know has read it, and I am on high alert because I don’t want to be spoiled just because I cannot seem to get my act together. I have also likely pre-ordered said book, and am mad at myself that it’s been on my shelf for months/years/decades. And I am also salty that everyone else knows what happened, even though of course I have only myself to blame. But it’s easier to get mad at an inanimate object instead, of course.

Step 6: Acceptance… or back to Step 1

Eventually, I acquiesce and read the damn thing. Usually this happens when enough people have peer pressured me, and/or I am significantly ahead on my Goodreads Challenge. Of course, there are those books just sitting on the shelves, patiently waiting for me to cycle through this all over again. I assume they feel like rescue animals, hoping that one day I will take them from their cages and love them. Actually, using that narrative, I may actually read them faster… 🤔

I want to read you guys, I do. But it is SCARY, okay?

Now, in case you were not sure if you were actually afraid of big books for realsies, here’s a quiz!

Let’s talk! Do you like big books? Or are you scared and ridiculous like me?

What are some of your favorite big books? Or conversely, some you kind of feel you wasted your time on?

Posted February 24, 2017 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in Discussion, Discussion Challenge / 72 Comments

72 responses to “Big Books Are Scary: My Thought Process

  1. I completely agree with you! I avoid big books like the plague. They’re just so daunting and I’m always terrified there’s not going to be enough in it to fill those pages adequately and I’ll get bored and hate it. I’m reading the throne of glass series at the minute and I’m onto heir of fire which is the biggest so far, and I just can’t bring my self to pick it up. The diviners is another book I’ve wanted to read for SO long but it’s so intimidating! Big book fear is a real thing!

  2. Wow The Beauty of Darkness is huge! I had no idea… this is such an interesting post because I’m one of those people who has read a lot of fantasy doorstoppers, so my default reaction is yeah I like ’em. But… not as much as I used to. I’m kinda over that mega epic mania that seems to pervade fantasy dom (or high fantasydom anyway). Game of Thrones feels like the high water mark of that for me, so I’ve moved on to other stuff . Speaking of Game of Thrones… I know those are chunksters, but if it’s any consolation the chapters are usually pretty short or at least manageable. Which I like. If I have limited time I don’t need to slog through a 40 page chapter, you know? Each chapter is a different POV so you can take bite sized morsels. If that helps. 🙂

    Ooh a quiz! F yeah lol… LOVE quizzes.

    bird people :):):)

    • Yeah it was almost 700 pages! Luckily, it did NOT feel that long, so that was good. It was one of my favorite “big” books actually. Game of Thrones… well, the chapter thing DOES help actually- I can handle that a little more. I feel the same, I HATE long chapters– I think I’d rather a long book with short chapters than a short book with long chapters, actually. HOWEVER. I am not starting those books unless I know for SURE that this guy is going to finish them before keeling over. He isn’t getting any younger. Or fitter. Just saying. I am not investing in like, 10K+ pages for him to not finish. NOPE.

      And I will never be okay with bird people, clearly 😉

  3. According to your quiz, I care about quality, not word count, and that sounds pretty accurate! If it’s the first in a series or a new author, then yeah, I might be a bit scared off by too many pages. But if it’s a series I love, then I’m usually happy to have big books because it means I get to read more about the characters I love! But, like, I really have to love it. Standalones kinda go either way for me. Sometimes I’m like yay, lots of pages! Because I’m a series person, so a long standalone means more time with the characters for me to really get invested. But other times I’m kinda like, yeah, but it’s just a standalone anyway… I’d really rather it just be quick… So I don’t know. I waver depending on my mood lol.

    • I think logical people probably think that way 😀 I agree with you about standalones to an extent. If it is only 200 pages, it is REALLY hard to get a connection. But I think I’d rather 3 separate 200 page books than one 600 page one? FINE, maybe 2- 300 pagers 😉

  4. Sam

    This was fun, and I wasn’t surprised to find “I am not picky. I just have standards.”I mostly read ebooks, and am therefore, often ignorant to their length. I will say, that there were books I avoided for a while because they just looked so large. Good example, Illuminae. This book sat on my shelf from BEA 2015 until May 2016 – almost a year. I would look at it, it was so pretty. I would hear good things, but it took me a long time to dive in, and it was ah-mazing! I probably am more leery of contemporaries that tip in over 400-ish pages. Why so long? You don’t need to build a world, and my experience with the longer contemporaries has not been as positive. The books felt long. Once again, great post!

    • See, I think ebooks DO help, to an extent. BUT if it is an extra long book, that doesn’t even seem to help me- because I will see some crazy amount of hours left to read and get scared again 😂

      I DO agree about the whole contemporary versus other genres! Because I CAN forgive some length if it comes to world building. OH and I wasn’t *as* scared of Illuminae, but only because of the pictures 😉 Thanks so much!!

  5. Yeah big book scare me lol. I have listened to bigger books with more ease than actually reading them. When I can physically see how big a book is I am scared. I can do up to 500 pages but after that I am intimidated. Outlander is a big one I want to read but man I can’t seem to bring myself to pick it up. So I get it!!

  6. Ahahaha I love this post Shannon! I used to be okay with long books but now… eh, I’ll prefer shorter books anytime hahaha especially when it comes to books I’m not sure about. Like you said, what if I read this 700 pages book and end up being the black sheep? Hmm. I could’ve used my time on other books. Also I’m wary of contemporary books over 400 pages! I put off The Unexpected Everything because it’s over 500 pages and I’m like, what are we gonna talk for 500 pages? But then again, I also put off Lady Midnight because that book is huge! Fantastic post 😛

    • Aw thank youuu! I agree completely about the contemporary thing too. I haven’t read a lot of “must read” contemporaries for that reason! And yes, I think in the past, I was less concerned, but I notice now that I will actually LOOK at the page count of every book before I start it- and often do make decisions based on it!

  7. LOVE this article! Especially that .gif of Derrick from Teen Wolf *swoon*.

    This is one of the major reasons I haven’t read Lady Midnight. It’s so big and intimidating and I feel like it’s going to take me forever to finish while in the mean time I could read 2 or 3 other books on my TBR list.

  8. I love this post and the quiz! Unfortunately I know I don’t avoid them. Part of it could be that I read a lot of ebooks so don’t know. But I also don’t mind a long book. Now I need to be aware of it for a review schedule, but that’s my only concern.

  9. I didn’t even realize the rationalization process I go through when big books are involved until I read this. I feel so guilty, but unfortunately it’s a sad reality. This is also true when I’m listening to audiobooks. When I see that the listening time is 10+ hours I think twice about picking it up and dread every moment after that until the story proves itself to me.

    • Aw don’t feel guilty, I think it happens to a LOT of us. And I cannot even IMAGINE seeing 10+ hours in an audiobook- I would cry, and there is no WAY I would end up listening hahah. But at least you eventually do it, that is a step in the right direction, anyway 😀

  10. Yeah… I’m the one who’s giddy happy when a sequel has a huge page count. Because look at how much longer it will last now! I love thick books but at the same time I put them off too. I’ve wanted to read the stormlight books by Sanderson for a year now, but they’ve just so big! (Plus they only count as one for my Goodreads book count haha!)

  11. This quiz is accurate! Word count be damned! I am currently avoiding a big book, though. There’s one on my TBR shelf that’s over a thousand pages. I know I’ll probably like the book, but I just don’t want to deal with it right now. I usually feel like long books are unnecessarily long. They’d be a lot less intimidating if the authors cut out the saggy bits.

  12. This was a great blog post. I was dying laughing the whole time. I took the quiz for myself, even though I already knew that the length of the book doesn’t matter to me as long as it’s in a genre that I enjoy. But I laughed even harder…my results said I’m not picky, I just have standards :))

  13. Ten years ago, I would have definitely said bigger is better, given two books of equal quality and interest. I would have considered 700+ pages a big book, but 400-500 just a normal book.

    Now between the brain fatigue of parenting and the mounting pressure to read MORE MORE MORE that seems to be a side effect of book blogging, I find myself avoiding big books. Graphic novels are my friend; I can whip through one of those babies in under an hour!

    But my very favorites are usually pretty hefty. Chaos Walking, yes. Lunar Chronicles, Unwind, Graceling, GIrl of FIre & Thorns, Millennium trilogy. And my favorite mystery authors write doorstops: Elizabeth George, Tana French, and Reginald Hill.

    • I think that the blogging side effect is a VERY real thing. And I am not a fan. Because I read Chaos Walking before blogging, and I was a tiny bit worried about the length but not like, hugely so. Would I have even bothered today? Who knows, and that is a scary thought!

  14. Big books are scary! I just think how many books I could have read in that time of one big book haha. Also the fear of it not being good makes sense because again, the time wasted. Sigh.

    I actually end up reading a lot of big books as ebooks. It tricks my brain into thinking it’s not that bad haha

  15. I’m totally afraid of big books! For example, I’m dying to read The Black Witch, but you could kill a person with that thing, it’s SO HUGE, haha. Recently, I’ve started reading the big published books I put off reading via audiobook, and that helps. I end up listening while doing something else, like sitting on the train, while driving, and even while showering haha. It doesn’t feel as daunting that way, and I’m on my second big audiobook in two weeks now, AND it’s less boring than just sitting around! 🙂 Fabulous post, as always <3 Have a fantastic weekend, Shannon!

    Brittany @ Brittany’s Book Rambles

    • The Black Witch is one of the scariest books I own! I should have taken its picture, but I forgot about it because it is hiding behind some other huge books on my shelf 😂

      I wish I could do audiobooks, but I just cannot seem to pay attention to them! I try, I do, but my mind always wanders! It would be a good solution, but alas 😉

  16. Oh, yeah, I definitely feel the same way! I mostly read e-books, and, in average, since the pages are stretched out, they’re always about 500-600 pages, and I usually get through them easily, but faced with a book that size? It feels like it takes me FOREVER to read. 😝 I usually end up reading 300-400 page physical copies, because that’s how much I can take. 😂

  17. Yaaas, quiz accuracy for me. I AM TERRIFIED OF BIG BOOKS. I like books I can knock over in a day, and anything above 400 pages is pushing it. 😂 Plus they tend to just waffle on, don’t you think?!? I MEAN DO WE RAELLY NEED 600 PAGES. I THINK NOT. Unless we’re talking about A Conjuring Of Light and I read 550 pages in ONE NIGHT so. All bets are off for that.😂 But I honestly prefer short concise books that I can read in a day, two days max.

    I’m currently procrastinating The Mirror King for this exact reason. Also Shadowhunter Academy. HIDE ME.

  18. I also dislike long books. I am most comfortable with shorter reads, everything above 400 suddenly feels like a lot. The best way to deal with it, is to not look at the pages. I remember last year i started an anthology and didn’t realize how long it was until i saw how little progress in % I was making with each read and realized that this was going to be a long book. But by then I had already started reading it, so I sorta got tricked into reading a long book. But most of the time I either just never get book that are that big or I really have to like the author and still want to read the books. If one of my favorite authors writes a long book I don’t mind as much. But most of the time it’s really hard to actually start long books.

    • I like the idea of not looking- but I have this… compulsion to do so, I think! The worst was, I looked up a book on Goodreads that I was going to read, and it said 270 pages. Wow, okay! But then I had been reading for like, an hour and a half on my Kindle and was at like, 12%! So I was very confused, and then I looked on its Amazon page, and it said almost 600 pages! So I think I almost HAVE to know, otherwise I get… extra angry 😉

  19. techeditor

    I put off reading big books because the look so time consuming, which is really pretty silly because three short books are just as time consuming. But if a big books takes too long to grab me, bye, bye.

    But I’ve read many big books that were so good they seemed too short.

  20. LOL, Shannon.
    I thought I was the only one who does this kind of stuff. If you want, I am always up to buddy read with you, if we have the same book on our shelves. It could be a nice way for us to complain to each other. I am really new to the book blogging scene, so I ended up collecting books for like 5 years before I started thinking of reading them. Don’t ask why I was asking for the books if I wasn’t able to read out of sheer mood swings. NOW, I am trying to read them. So…you basically have a buddy here, who’ll always support you through these cycles. Promise.
    Speaking of support, are we friends on Goodreads and Instagram? I’ll send you an add request right now! <3

    • Oh YAY!! WE SHOULD! And I love the idea of complaining to each other 😂 I have ALL the books too, so we probably have tons in common! Let me know what you want to read! I am pretty sure we are friends on Instagram… Goodreads I do not know- but I think so? I am pretty sure anyway! ::Leaves to double check::

  21. I used to love big books when I was a kid and could read all day. Now I know I might start one and it will take months to finish. I still love big books, but I worry about the time commitment. I also firmly believe some books being published at 400 pages should probably have only been 300 pages, if they had been edited adequately. The success of Harry Potter seems to have made people think, “Oh well, if people will actually read this 700-page book, I guess there’s no need to get rid of all the extraneous stuff.” Even if that would have made a better book.

    • I agree, when I was younger, a longer book was like a badge of honor. Now it is like… who has time for that!? I also TOTALLY agree with you about the editing. There is so much that can be cut out, especially of super long books, which is why I think they irritate me so much!

  22. I’ve been reading some longer books lately, like 500-600 pages, but since I have them as ebooks they’re not as daunting. I mean, they’re still pretty daunting, but at least I don’t have to haul them everywhere and hurt my arm trying to keep them propped up. I just really like STARTING and FINISHING books, you know? It gives you a sense of accomplishment. And it takes ages to finish these things.

    • I agree, a 500 page ebook IS more doable. But anything over 700 pages… I don’t care what format it’s in, I am going to give it dirty looks 😉 I TOTALLY agree about the sense of accomplishment thing! Closing a book- whether you loved or hated it- always is a good feeling!

  23. When I worked in an elementary school library I was constantly stopping first graders from trying to checkout the giant dictionary. Kids were obsessed with checking out a book that was bigger then them. And then they get older and try to avoid anything over 100 pages. 🙂

    I go through the negotiation phase as well. Big books just seem so time consuming and risk not being rewarding. I remind myself that HP and the Order of the Phoenix is one of my favorite books and it’s over 800 pages! But what if the next big book isn’t as good and then it’s prolonged torture?

  24. Ruh-roh, this is where we part ways, my friend. Bring on the big books, I say! The bigger the book, the ore to enjoy! Yeah, I guess there are times when I’m just in the mood for a quick read but usually I want to dive into some big fat book and just lose myself in it.

    Btw, it must be said that when I read the line “I heard a rumor it has bird people anyway” I almost spewed my iced chai tea latte all over the keyboard. LOL

  25. I actually really like long books usually, although there is always that little bit of unease when I’m about to start one that I could be about to waste a lot of time on a book I won’t end up liking.
    Recently I’ve been favouring shorter books though, because this is the first year I’ve done the Goodreads challenge (yes, I’m so behind everyone else whose been doing it for years!), and I started slipping behind when I read Dragonfly in Amber which was pretty long. So I’m trying to catch up with some shorter books now!
    Great post! 🙂

  26. I LOVE BIG BOOKS…but they also terrify me. Like, if it’s a sequel to a book I love or if it’s part of one of my favourite series I get really excited if the book is big. Take the Skulduggery Pleasant books, for example, most of them are 500-600 pages but I flew through them in a day or two because I loved them so much and I didn’t even think about their size. However, if I’m reading the first book in a series or a standalone novel I get nervous because will I like it? Will it bore me? Will it be a struggle to get through and take me 500 years to read it? Like, I got a YA contemporary arc a few weeks back and it was nearly 500 pages which is LONG for a contemporary so I was quite wary of reading it…but I ended up finishing it in a night. So I think books by authors I haven’t read much of and contemporary books that have a lot of pages scare me haha!

  27. YEP. I RELATE TO THIS SO MUCH. I keep reading all the small books I own that I am now running out of them. So you know what I do when I HAVE to read a big book? I choose the one that has the biggest font/biggest line spacing. Yeah, it’s that bad. hahah >.<

  28. Kel

    Haha, this is great! I also feel like the same steps might apply to the *cough*dozens*cough* of unread books on my shelf, big and small. ^^;

  29. Ha, great post, Shannon! I must admit I never would have classed myself as someone who’s intimidated by big books a couple of years ago, but there are a few books I own that I still haven’t read purely because they’re huge. I’ve heard amazing things about Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and The Crimson Petal and the White, but they’re both so big – in fact Strange & Norrell has FOOTNOTES, so I am super intimidated by that one even though I’ve heard it’s amazing. One of these days I’ll read them… I hope…

  30. Hi, my name is Beth, and I’m afraid of books over 500 pages in length. Especially if I have a physical copy (I can claim ignorance if it’s an audiobook I downloaded). If I could kill a rodent with it, if it could be accurately described as a ‘tome’, if reading it will take me over a month- I avoid. Ohhhhh how I avoid it. As you say, putting all that time into one book will put me behind on all of my other reading goals! And also, after about 300 pages, I’m committed. If it’s meh, or bad, and I’m 300 pages in and I’ve only got 50 to go, no big whup. If the same and after 300 pages I have ANOTHER 300 to go, then it’s just torture.

  31. I don’t look up page numbers of books on Goodreads anymore. And this is really a good thing! Only since 2017 lasted, I have read several 600+ pages books, and I might have kind of let them wait if I had checked how long they were before I started reading. I’m talking about Kristen Ashley, and even if her books are really long, they are such fast reads. It’s amazing, really.
    One of my favorite really big books is Outlander – and all of its sequels. I think the sign of a great story is when I didn’t realize how many pages there was until I look it up to write my review 🙂
    Great post. Shannon!

  32. Big books terrify me. It’s why I prefer reading them on my Kindle because I’m not aware they’re ridiculously long. Especially when I put the reading time as time left in the chapter and avoid looking at the percentage. I can just get lost in reading instead. Seeing a super long book on my shelf leads to many games of avoidance (unless it’s a Harry Potter reread and then I am completely undaunted). I used to love getting long in a long read but since I started blogging I worry too much about the time it’ll take me to read and all the other books piling up on my shelves. It’s stupid and illogical and I tend to get to them eventually… but, you know, it’s still scary. It’s why I’ve still not read Traitor to the Throne, it’s too long!

  33. Jo

    This is such a great post! For me, it depends, really, though mostly I am all in favour of big books. If I’m really not enjoying a book at all, then I’m all “Why are you SO LONG?!”, but otherwise, I love getting to be surrounded by these characters I love for that little bit longer. If it’s a favourite author’s book, then I am excited about all there is to discover in all those pages. My reading roots are in fantasy, and they’re mostly pretty big books, so, in some ways, big books are normal length for me, and everything else is just really short. Still good though. But yeah, a good chunky book is almost always awesome!

    Also, it only takes me longer to read a big book if I’m not enjoying it. But if I am, I still tend to get it read in 3 days, which is my average for most books of any size. More often than not, I love the stories of big books, so I’m picking it up to read more often than I am shorter books.

    Oooh! Have you thought about getting big books as eBooks? Then you never really know their size, and they might not be as daunting. I also find I read eBooks faster than physical books. Must be the time I’m saving by pressing a button rather than turning a page. 🙂

  34. I LOVE big books. I especially love them now in the advent of eReaders. No longer do I need to carry around a book the size of a small child everywhere I go! The first BIG book I bought on my Nook…11/22/63. I was thrilled to be able to read this novel and not worry about breaking my nose when I fell asleep reading it!

  35. I like your quiz! According to it, I’m just after a good book and don’t care about the length, which is mostly (?) accurate. I’m definitely VERY good at avoiding long books, but since I’ve started listening to audiobooks, I find I don’t even notice when a book is REALLY long. People will complain about a book being 600+ pages, and I’ll think “Really? It didn’t feel like that.” But that is probably kind of cheating? For books that I’m READING, I tend to prefer somewhere between 300-500 pages. That seems to be the sweet spot nowadays. When I was younger I’d say I was more around 200-400, so I’ve shifted a bit. 🙂 Great post!

  36. I’m a bit intimidated by long books. I mean, when the Harry Potter books were coming out, I’d take any length she’d give me because we waited so long. Nowadays it’s more that I just don’t have as much time to read and SO MUCH to read that it’s a little hard to look at long books and invest the time.


  37. Apparently I care more about quality of a book than length, which is technically true, but practically LONG BOOKS ARE SUCH A COMMITMENT OMG. What if I don’t like it? Do I read the rest? DNF? Skim? But then of course short books can FEEL super long if you don’t like them and vice versa, so there’s that…

  38. Yes!!!!! I put off big books a lot. If it’s a long sequel I have to read it right away or else it will gather dust on my shelf. I’ve often picked out a book to read based solely on page count too. I read the 5th Outlander book in 2009 and I’ve yet to read book 6. =/

  39. 600 pages seems to be the real threshold for me. I’m definitely okay up to 500 pages, but something about 600 gets me scared. And those 1000 page books? Yikes! There are some that I REALLY want to read. And I will … eventually. My favorite of your steps is Step 1 because I do this ALL the time. You described my thoughts, actions and feelings (especially about reading that little book “real quick”) almost exactly!

  40. Long or big books FREAK me out! In fact, back when Les Mis came out in theaters, I saw the book and Walmart, and picked it up thinking, “Oh, this would be good! A. I should read more classic lit (since I read none now) and b. it’s not that bad!” Yeah, I looked at it again, saw its length and practically dropped it back on the shelf. 😉 This is also why I’ve not read Sarah J. Maas’ TOG books. THE LENGTH!? 😉

  41. HAHAHA YES. About 2 years ago, I read Way of Kings, which is a 1000 PAGES LONG. HOW DID I DO IT? CAN I DO IT AGAIN? I don’t know I don’t know. I think it does not help AT ALL that 1) we are going against the GR challenge and 2) we have reading schedules filled with ARCs. I got rid of the 1st, and now I hope to get rid of the 2nd. Maybe then I will be ok?

  42. I got: “You care about quality only- word count be damned!” so accurate results are accurate.

    I admit that I think any book that nears 1000 pages is just a failure of the author and editor to cut things down BUT I don’t really have a problem with longer books except that they are literally very heavy. Mostly I’ll put big books off because I don’t feel like carrying them around on my commute.

    This post made me laugh because I was at a preview with a coworker last week and I told him about an ARC that was there to take. He said he skipped it because it was enormous. I replied that it’s heft was one of the main reasons I had picked it up. Go figure.

  43. Girl, I know how you feel. Big books scare me and I end up putting them off as well. But I usually end up loving them. Like every single big book that I read. I usually end up loving it. Which is why I reserve big books for holidays, when I am not studying as much. Then I have the time to actually sit down and read them….

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