The Wheel of Time series by the late Robert Jordan is an excellent choice for a long-term read. The books include one prequel and then 13 more volumes, plus one more volume due out later this year, or early 2012. (Since Robert Jordan passed before finishing the series, Brandon Sarandon was brought in to finish the series, based on the extensive notes left by Jordan.) Jordan created an extensive world, complete with a host of characters, a variety of cultures, and prophecies being fulfilled by the main characters. Jordan expertly draws you into the stories, which you hate to leave when you put down whatever volume you're on. The characters feel so real that you learn to care about each of them as you're drawn into each of their lives.