If you want quick but meaningful short books to read, these are the best short novels under 200 pages to read in a day (or more, if you choose… no pressure!). The list includes both classic short novels and modern short books to read in one sitting. To me, the most famous short books can really stand the test of time because not a word is wasted. Everything is important in moving these stories forward. It’s almost like poetry!
What books can you read in a day?
Below are the best short novels under 200 pages to read in a day, including their page count.
NOTE: Page counts vary by publication (i.e., year and format). I did my best to give you the most accurate page counts and only pick the best novels that generally stayed under or really close to that 200-page mark across all publications thereof.
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Page count: 140
75th Anniversary Edition
Animal Farm is one of the best short novels for high school. It’s the allegorical tale in which “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
A farm filled with overworked animals decides to create equality and find justice. But, what follows in this revolution against tyranny is totalitarianism just as terrible.
This classic short novel will give you chills and leave you with a lot to think and talk about.
Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
Page count: 192
- A Finalist for the 2016 National Book Award
- New York Times Bestseller
- A SeattleTimes pick for Summer Reading Roundup 2017
- A Bustle Fall Roundup pick for 2017
Another Brooklyn is a really haunting and unforgettable coming-of-age short book to read about a group of girlfriends in Brooklyn in the 1970s — a time and place that was both dangerous and formative in what became of each girl.
Woodson writes with dark yet poetic prose as if she were a modern-day Toni Morrison. Needless to say, this one will really stick with you.
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Page count: 144
On the Southern Louisiana coast, Edna Pontellier struggles with her roles as mother and wife and how they intersect with art, passion, and individuality. I imagine it would have been shocking at the time, and the ending will leave you completely stunned.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
Page count: 179
Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a great short story book to read because it’s one of my favorite books of all time! Capote is an American treasure, carefully crafting into strings of thoughtful dialogue and prose the character of Holly Golightly, a New York socialite and a “drifter” in 1960s New York.
This one is for fans of character-driven novels, and I can pretty much assure you that you will not regret reading it.
Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx
Page count: 36
I first read Brokeback Mountain after watching (and loving) the movie, and the novella was just as spectacular — another great short story book to read.
Wyoming is the most beautiful backdrop to the secret love story of Ennis and Jack, two sheepherders who begin a relationship one Summer while working with each other in the wilderness. The men are married to women yet continue to meet each Summer for decades as they navigate their sexuality and social norms, with heartbreaking consequences in this very famous short book.
Candide by Voltaire
Page count: 167
Candide is a widely translated French satire short book to read, originally published in 1759 by a philosopher of the Age of Enlightenment.
A young man named Candide is living a sheltered life in an Edenic paradise and being indoctrinated with optimism and the belief in “what’s meant to be” by his mentor. When he’s kicked out of the castle (literally), Candide slowly and painfully comes of age and becomes disillusioned by the hardships he witnesses and experiences.
Several adventure and romance cliches are parodied in a very bitter tone, yet this compulsively readable, famous short book also explores historical events. Naturally, Candide also contends with the struggle of good versus evil in this once “banned” book, which ironically has also been named one of the most influential books ever written.
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
Page count: 176
Ultimately, it’s about the human struggle between good and evil, set in a futuristic England. Alex and his “Droogs” spend their nights engaging in mischievous acts, which ultimately lead to violence and his jailing. When he submits to behavior modification in order to earn back his freedom, he is conditioned to dismiss violence, which has an incredibly ironic result.
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
Page count: 176
Convenience Store Woman is a surprisingly heartwarming, great short story book to read about a 36-year-old Japanese woman who works as at a convenience store … and loves it! Working in the store provides her with purpose and allows her to observe and learn about human interactions, leading her to search for a husband upon the prompting of her family.
It’s a close look at the pressure to conform for fans of Eleanor Oliphant, and it maintains a loveable main character at its core.
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Page count: 105
As Ethan works an unproductive farm in the New England countryside, he also deals with his hypochondriac wife. So, it should come as no surprise that, when her cousin becomes their hired help, he becomes obsessed with her.
It’s an intense narrative that moves the trio toward their tragic fates, which will immerse you in the deepest of emotions of these characters.
Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
Page count: 176
Franny and Zooey is one of the best short novels that’s also on the Rory Gilmore book list. It’s composed of two siblings’ stories: Franny’s, then Zooey’s. Franny is a college student encountering an uncomfortable date with her boyfriend in which they just can’t seem to communicate clearly to each other. Zooey is her brother, grappling with sibling and parental issues in a quirky New York apartment.
If you liked Catcher in the Rye, you will like this one — especially Zooey’s story.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Page count: 123
If you have not yet read The Great Gatsby, what are you waiting for? This is one of the most classic short novels on the Rory Gilmore reading list about an outsider in Jazz Era Long Island, peering into the social life of a wealthy man.
It’s an easy read filled with symbolism and social commentary on social class in America.
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Page count: 168
The Hound of the Baskervilles is another one of the best short novels for high school. It’s about the mysterious sudden death of Sir Charles Baskerville, who may be the victim of a ghostly hound that haunts his family. Further, his heir may be the object of murder.
When the heir arrives, several odd things happen, and Sherlock Holmes observes a bearded man following him around the city. So, Watson heads to Baskerville hall to do some digging.
Upon his arrival in Baskerville Hall, more strange things happen as the case unfolds for fans of detective stories and classic mysteries.
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
Page count: 110
The House on Mango Street is one of the best short books under 200 pages that Jenna Bush Hager has called a favorite.
It’s told in short and sweet, poetic vignettes about the life of a young Latina girl in Chicago names Esperanza and the people in her life. Her tales are sometimes joyous and sometimes heartbreaking, but always compulsively readable.
You’ll adore this young lady and her unique perspective on life.
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Page count: 96
It’s a lyrical fable that explores the meaning of life amidst sweet illustrations and can be read in about an hour. It’s one of those books that everyone should read at least once.
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Page count: 60
The Metamorphosis is a quirky short story on Rory Gilmore’s reading list about a salesman who wakes up to find he has been transformed into a bug. He must learn to adapt to his new condition and deal with his family’s reactions to him at the same time.
It’s super quick and interesting, with themes you’ll want to research after reading it.
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Page count: 128
The Old Man and the Sea is another one of the best short novels for high school. It’s a simple yet enduring tale about an old Cuban fisherman, who has been down on his luck, and his epic battle with a giant marlin in the Gulf Stream.
In his customary brief prose, Hemingway shows the meaning of courage and personal triumph.
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Page count: 107
It’s a story of friendship between an unlikely pair of California laborers: George, a smaller man, and Lennie, a large man with the mind of a child. Together, they dream of owning land and a shack of their own, but these dreams are challenged when a flirtatious woman enters the picture.
You won’t be able to put this one down!
Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
Page count: 192
Our Souls at Night is a great book for fans of Olive Kitteridge. Elderly, lonely woman Addie asks her elderly, lonely neighbor, Louis to engage in a unique type of friendship with her so they can have some companionship. As they get to know each other better, for better and for worse, a story of second chances unfolds.
It’s a tender peek into the thoughts and feelings of modern elder Americans.
A Room With a View by E.M. Forester
Page count: 122
Young Lucy visits Florence, Italy, with her proper aunt and meets a young man and his father, who make an impression on her.
When she returns to England and becomes engaged, they re-enter her life and she must decide between convention and passion.
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
Page count: 121
A Room of One’s Own is one of the best short books under 200 pages in which it is imagined that Shakespeare had an equally talented sister— with a strikingly different legacy. She never writes a word, despite her inherent genius.
The theme is a simple one with feminist leanings—that women need their own income and a room of their own in order to be free to create.
It was different than I expected — an extended essay exploring the history of women in writing and in literature. It was really thoughtful and interesting, and definitely a must-read if you are looking for feminist works.
Sula by Toni Morrison
Page count: 192
Sula is my favorite Toni Morrison novel I’ve read to date, and it’s also an Oprah’s book Club pick. Ultimately, it’s a story about death and friendship, told as poetically dark as all of Morrison’s work.
Nel and Sula are friends who share a tragic childhood secret that reverberates into their very different adulthoods, with consequences.
I found this one to be easier to read than most of her novels, and difficult to put down. These characters and how the secret shapes their lives are bound to stick with you.
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston
Page count: 169
A PBS Great American Read Top 100 Pick
Their Eyes Were Watching God is the renowned Southern love story of Janie Crawford, as she comes of age from being a voiceless teenage girl awakening to become an independent woman in control of her destiny.
It’s an absolute classic of the Harlem Renaissance that has been so widely read and deserves a place on your “to be read” list as well. For such a short novel, the content is truly epic, with memorable characters, suspense, and an unforgettable plot.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Page count: 146
We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a dark, gothic short fiction book to read about an odd, unreliable narrator named Merricat and her family’s dark secrets. It’s a tangled web of neurotic behavior, as a cousin arrives at the isolated family’s estate and it turns out this strange family may actually be murderous.
It really excels at building intrigue and suspense, keeping you completely glued to the pages to try to figure out what’s really going on.
Those are the best short novels under 200 pages to read in a day.
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