A Long List of Short Novels

By Cecilia Cygnar

These books, each with 220 pages or fewer, are perfect for these strange times where our focus is so divided. Some classics, some contemporary, these novels might be low on pages but they are high on entertainment.

  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

    2005 by Adams, Douglas

    Starting out with a bang, this classic sci-fi romp is worth a second look, or a first look. Yes, it's short, but there are few books that are this iconic or timeless.

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  • Giovanni's Room

    2013 by Baldwin, James

    In James Baldwin's semi-autobiographical novel, a young man finds himself caught between desire and conventional morality.

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  • The Sense of an Ending

    2011 by Barnes, Julian

    After receiving a letter from someone from his past, a middle-aged man reflects on a past he thought was behind him.

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  • Death of a Gossip: Hamish Macbeth Mystery Series, Book 1

    2012 by Beaton, M. C.

    The first in a series that is now more than 30 titles long by the famed cozy mystery maven. This short book introduces Hamish Macbeth, a police officer who serves the fictitious town of Lochdubh in the Scottish Highlands.

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  • The Uncommon Reader

    2008 by Bennett, Alan

    Sweet, charming book about Queen Elizabeth II and what happens when her corgis stray into a mobile library parked at Buckingham Palace. Lots of fun!

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  • The Stranger

    2012 by Camus, Albert

    A terrifying picture of a faceless man who has committed a pointless murder. The low page count here does not diminish the massive impact of this classic story.

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  • The House on Mango Street

    2013 by Cisneros, Sandra

    Set in Chicago, this short novel tells the story of a young girl who captures her thoughts and emotions in poems and stories. The elegant story is eloquently written.

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  • Heart of Darkness

    2011 by Conrad, Joseph

    The basis for the iconic Francis Ford Coppola film Apocalypse Now, this Conrad short novel is set during the late 1800s conflict in the African Congo.

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  • The Lover

    2011 by Duras, Marguerite

    The story of an affair between a 15-year-old French girl and her Chinese lover. Filled with passion and intensity.

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  • Visitation

    2010 by Erpenbeck, Jenny

    A house on a lake outside Berlin is the focus of this short novel that depicts the everyday life of the house and its inhabitants.

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  • The Bookshop

    2013 by Fitzgerald, Penelope

    Endearing short novel set in 1950s England, where a young widow stirs up a small coastal town when she starts a bookshop. A very sweet tale that is a fast read.

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  • Ellen Foster

    1998 by Gibbons, Kaye

    While searching for a safe haven from her abusive family, a young child finally gets a break in the home of a loving woman with several foster children.

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  • Our Souls at Night

    2015 by Haruf, Kent

    A widower and widow come together to stave off loneliness, but soon they are exchanging confidences and memories.

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  • The Outsiders

    1988 by Hinton, S. E.

    The story of teenagers from poverty-stricken families and their struggle to be accepted by society.

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  • News of the World

    2016 by Jiles, Paulette

    In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people.

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  • The Vegetarian

    2016 by Kang, Han

    How one nightmare changes the lives of a young couple in South Korea. Before the nightmare, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary life. After, not so much.

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  • The Lathe of Heaven

    2014 by Le Guin, Ursula K.

    George wakes up one day to discover that his dreams have the ability to alter reality. He seeks help from a psychiatrist, who immediately grasps the power George wields.

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  • Dream Angus: The Celtic God of Dreams

    2012 by McCall Smith, Alexander

    The Celtic myth of Dream Angus, a god of love, youth, and beauty--and the bringer of dreams--is retold in this short fantasy novel.

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  • Child of God

    1993 by McCarthy, Cormac

    In 1960s Tennessee, a violent loner has lived in the woods since early childhood. He has no sense of right or wrong or how normal society operates.

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  • Every Heart a Doorway

    2016 by McGuire, Seanan

    The children under Eleanor West's care at her Home for Wayward Children are all seeking a way back into their own fantasy world. But when Nancy arrives, the dynamic changes forever.

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  • The Bluest Eye

    2007 by Morrison, Toni

    My favorite Morrison novel tells the story from the point of view of a young girl who wants blue eyes, which she believes will make her noticeable and beautiful. Touching and so very sweet, Morrison’s poignant words fill the pages with heart and soul.

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  • Convenience Store Woman

    2018 by Murata, Sayaka

    The story of a middle-aged Japanese woman who has been working part-time in a convenience store for the past 18 years.

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  • Dept. of Speculation

    2014 by Offill, Jenny

    A couple use love letters to each other to document and deal with life's mundane activities as well as its more major hurdles.

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  • Everyman

    2011 by Roth, Philip

    The hero of this book is obsessed with his own mortality. And when his health worsens, his obsession only increases, even begrudging other people's good health.

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  • We the Animals

    2011 by Torres, Justin

    Three brothers cause mischief in this eloquent coming-of-age tale full of chaos and heartbreak.

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  • Annihilation

    2014 by VanderMeer, Jeff

    A biologist joins a mission to uncover what happened inside Area X, a sinister and mysterious phenomenon that is expanding across the American coastline.

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  • Mrs. Dalloway

    2005 by Woolf, Virginia

    Set while Clarissa Dalloway prepares for a party, this classic, famed stream-of-consciousness novel has Dalloway dwelling on missed opportunities throughout her life.

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