One reason suspect some of us get more interested in longer books as we get older is that one of the really human things about people is our tendency to keep taking the bus to Cleveland.
Cleveland? It's from an expression I heard a chastity advocate use when she visited my university back in the 1980s. She said, "If you don't want to go to Cleveland you shouldn't get on the bus that goes here". I went to see her because I had zero sympathy for her views and was only looking for something to mock but that changed a little after hearing her speak. I had to admire her courage. I, as I say, had no sympathy for her views but the auditorium where she spoke that day was full of people who hated her. It was an ugly scene and the hatred clearly scared and intimidated her but she said what she believed. No one else in that room would have endured what she did for the sake of our beliefs.
And she made one very important point with that remark about the bus to Cleveland. We tend to think of morality as a matter of making choices but it's really more a matter of making a pilgimage. When we make bad moral "decisions" there is typically very little decision making involved at the moment we make the bad choice. How well we perform under pressure is a consequence of hundreds of smaller decisions that didn't feel particularly momentous but that lead up to that momentous one.
For example, there are a lot of people who remain faithful to their spouses out of timidity rather than moral conviction. As I've said before, they may feel they are doing well but all they need is a situation where the risk level drops to a point where it feels negligible and away they go. The bus to Cleveland is a local and it makes lots of stops. A lot of our moral decisions are really non-decisions to stay on the bus even though we tell ourselves and everyone else that we don't want to go to Cleveland.
And most people don't see what they are doing as getting on and staying on the bus. They don't see the things they are doing now as moral things and they don't see what they are doing now as determining what will happen later. The woman who gets involved with a series of angry, antisocial loners doesn't think the fact that she always ends up miserable as a consequence of the type of man she is attracted to. If that was all it was then all she would have to do is choose differently. It would take a massive effort on her part to be able to be attracted to guys who weren't like that. Even at the onset of puberty, she is already on the bus and by age 19 it would be very difficult for her to get off of it.
So she convinces herself that the bus that always took her to Cleveland in the past will go somewhere different this time.
Only in long fiction can we see this portrayed properly.
Brett at Branches and Rain recommends Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time and I second that. One of the best things about it is the characters that Powell creates and the way they keep getting on different buses bound for different places. Most of them end up in Cleveland again and again.
There is one fascinating exception and that is Frederica Tolland who is, for my money, the most interesting and attractive character in the Dance. She hardly get mentioned as most people are more interested in others but if you really wanted to learn about virtue, you couldn't pick a more worthwhile study.