You don’t mind spending an hour or two on a Neal Stephenson novel, do you? OK, so Anathem is slightly over a thousand pages long…but it’s not much over a thousand. I mean, it’s not as long as Cryptonomicon, which clocks in at 1168 pages.
Anathem is definitely worth reading, but let’s face it, you’re not going to finish it in an hour or two — nor is the book quite as spectacularly good as Cryptonomicon. Read it anyway, and it will repay your close attention. I can’t pretend that it will be a quick read, as it is quite complex and intellectually abstract. Nevertheless, it’s clearly a work of science fiction, not a philosophical treatise, so don’t be intimidated. And don’t give up after the first hundred pages just because it’s difficult.
One reviewer describes Anathem as “a novelization of Gödel, Escher, Bach” — not literally, but as a characterization of how it feels. If I had read that review ahead of time (something I try not to do), it would have been a selling point for me, but I can understand why it wouldn’t be for everyone. I’m not going to tell you the plot — in fact, I can’t tell you the plot — but it is heavily philosophical, mathematical, and linguistic. What could be better?
As I said, read it! Trust me, you’ll like it.