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books/authors that are heavy on description (1 Viewer)


Senior Member
I have decided to read books/authors that are heavy on description and light on dialogue. By description I mean stuff which can help the reader build a visual world in their mind. I want to read stuff which are evocative and depict our modern world. Also, I don't mind if they are purple but I wouldn't want it to be corny.

What books/authors do you recommend I read?


Senior Member
A few description-heavy books are
Margery Sharp - Britannia Mews
Miklos Banffy - They Were Counted
Daphnis and Chloe
They are not about the modern world, though. And I can't say I recommend them. I stopped reading precisely because I don't like lengthy descriptions.

Generally, female authors tend to describe locations and such in more detail (which is a pity – I am very keen to find interesting books written by women, but many of them really drown the reader in details).

I think your best bet is to go to a bookshop and take books written by women from the shelf and look for those whose first page is full of objects on the table and the color of the curtains and such. (Come to think of it, you can do the same on Amazon because they almost always let you read the first pages.)


Senior Member
I've never heard that term, "purple" had to look it up. I learned something new, so thanks for that.

I was debating not answering because you said the modern world. Unfortunately, I can't think of any that are in our modern world.

Still, I'm going to recommend H.G Wells, "The Shape Of Things To Come." Hardly any dialogue, there are people, but they are mostly in the background. About a victorless war, and ensuing economic crisis, and the world state that rises because of it. A frame story, like a giant essay, notes etc... put together to tell the tale. It is still frightening.

Phil Istine

WF Veterans
Stories from a long time ago are generally heavier on description - Dickens' works for example. It makes some sense because there were no televisions back then and even basic black/white cameras weren't around in abundance. Also, travel was more difficult. The author had to work more at bringing scenes alive because the readership was unlikely to ever visit the place s/he was describing.

Modern authors need to do this less, though some may choose to.


Senior Member
It’s the “modern” that is maybe the hard part.
I don’t like a lot of description myself. I think H.G. Wells and Ann Rice are both big into description— enough that I put Ann Rice down, but others love her.

I haven’t read The Picture of Dorian Gray for a while but I remember Oscar Wilde’s descriptions are very memorable in it.

I think what you’d really want for home work is effective descriptions, right? Not just a lot of it, but memorable and effective? I like the Bronte sisters for that, but they aren’t modern.

In Snow Falling on Cedars… I don’t know who reads it who doesn’t have a strong visual memory of the wind rippling through the shirt of a man being told callously that all of his inheritance is not his anymore because of government wide racism and individual racism. It’s so effective, by David Guterson.

Roald Dahl is pretty good with descriptions— he would have to be, right? And actually his short stories that he used to write for playboy (adult content but hilarious) are very good for description. you can usually find those online for free. He was writing about his world at that time.

What kinds of descriptions are you looking for? Cities? Nature? Descriptions of characters? New worlds (you said modern, though). Descriptions of the atmosphere? Like in a small town or city neighborhood or a theater group or a group of friends? Maybe specifics would help.


Senior Member
What kinds of descriptions are you looking for? Cities? Nature? Descriptions of characters? New worlds (you said modern, though). Descriptions of the atmosphere? Like in a small town or city neighborhood or a theater group or a group of friends? Maybe specifics would help.
Thank you. I'm looking for descriptions of nature and also characters. But I guess it would be hard to say this is a good book in terms of describing one specific thing. When an author is good at descriptive imagery and evocative stuff, I don't think the work is only exclusively good in one specific area.


Senior Member
Uh, well there's always GK Chesterton. You may want to check out CS Lewis's space trilogy as well. Since that's about a guy who is kidnapped and forced to go to space, by its nature it's heavy on description.


Senior Member
I went looking for Willa Cather nature quotes. She’s fantastic at description in general, but yeah… here’s an example from My Antonia.

As I looked about me I felt that the grass was the country, as the water is the sea. The red of the grass made all the great prairie the colour of winestains, or of certain seaweeds when they are first washed up. And there was so much motion in it; the whole country seemed, somehow, to be running.”​

Not modern, but Phantastes by George Macdonald. A lot of dense, detailed descriptions of places and fantastic beings. Very beautiful, one of my favorite fantasy books. I also second the Space Trilogy, Tolkein's works, and Chesterton (I'd recommend The Man Who Was Thursday, whose descriptions of people especially stand out, though Chesterton is not light on dialogue).