Today I decided to share some great short books with you that you can read in one sitting. I personally prefer reading short novels instead of longer books. I know that some readers are the exact opposite. But if you’re looking for some short books to read, you might be interested to check out my list of books. These novels are some of my favourites. All of them have less 200 pages or less and are from different countries around the world.
Why I love reading short novels
But first of all let’s get started with the obvious questions. What is so great about reading short novels? And why do I love reading them so much?
I’m a rather slow reader – maybe it’s because I have so much else going on in my life that I don’t have as much time to read or maybe it’s because I don’t see reading as a sprint but rather as a marathon. Either way it just takes some time until I make it through a book.
So I just prefer reading short bools because they’re less intimidating. If I see a chunky book of 300+ pages, I’m intimidated. I still read it but I know that this book will stick with me at least for a few weeks. So sometimes I just prefer picking up a short book to read, especially when life gets busy.
Françoise Sagan – Bonjour Tristesse & A Certain Smile
You probably already know that I love these two short novels by Françoise Sagan. Her writing and themes are just exactly what I like. “Bonjour Tristesse” is her ‘scandalous’ debut novel that made her a star of the French literary scene of the 1950s. “A Certain Smile” is her less famous follow-up that deals with similar topics: Both feature cynical young women that become entangled in complicated relationships and engage in – for the standard of the 1950s -inappropriate behaviour.
I have linked my reviews of the two for you if you want to learn more about them. I can also highly recommend this biography about Françoise Sagan and her life.
Irmgard Keun – Nach Mitternacht (After Midnight)
Her subtle humour, smart observations of everyday life and political commentary on her times make Irmgard Keun one of my favourite German writers. After the Nazis burned her novels, Irmgard Keun lived in exile during which she wrote “After Midnight”. This short novels depicts a group of intellectuals and dissidents in pre-war Nazi Germany. It shows their difficult and desperate situation while providing an intelligent commentary on the political and social zeitgeist of the time.
Content Note: On one occasion Keun uses the N-word throughout this novel.
Jean Rhys – Wide Sargasso Sea
This one was one of my favourite reads of 2021! I absolutely loved “Wide Sargasso Sea” which is a feminist and postcolonial re-telling of “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë with a twist. This time the focus is put on Bertha Mason/Dominique Cosway, the mad woman in the attic. The novel is set in post-emancipation Jamaica and tells the story of her life starting with her childhood on a deserted plantation and ending with the deterioration of her mental health after her marriage to an English gentleman.
Chinua Achebe – Things Fall Apart & No Longer At Ease
Just like Françoise Sagan and Irmgard Keun, Chinua Achebe has quickly become one of my favourite writers – although I only read two of his novels so far! But I can highly recommend these two because his writing is really beautiful and unique. “Things Fall Apart” tells the story of Okonkwo, an Ibo man whose life and traditions are disturbed by the arrival of white men. “No Longer At Ease” centres around his grandson Obi who is torn between the traditions of his community and the expectations of the colonizers after he accepts a position in Lagos.
Cho Nam-Joo – Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982
Last but not least, I can not not feature this amazing short novel on here. “Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982” was one of my favourite reads of 2020 because it has many features that I love in a good book: It’s about Kim Jiyoung who seems to become mad after having a child. Through flashbacks and interlaced with statistical data the novel narrates the story of her life and shows how it was impacted by the sexism and misogyny of her society. A beautiful and very relatable read about what it means to be a woman in a patriarchal society.
These are some of my favourite short novels. I’d love to hear which books are your favourite reads. Do you have any recommendations for me?