13 Short Books You'll Want To Read More Than Once
Some books are just so good, you wish they would never end. They are the kinds of books that grab you from the first page and hold your attention until the last punctuation mark. They're books that make your heart race, stir your soul, and draw a tear from your eye. They're books whose characters you fall in love with, whose settings you want to get lost in, and whose words linger in the mind long after you've finished reading them. Some books are just that good.
Not all addictive books are 300-page mysteries or 500-page epics, though. A book's addictiveness actually has little to do with its length. I'm not arguing that the 607-page Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows isn't incredible, because, duh, of course it is. I'm not trying to say that Middlemarch isn't one of the greatest English novels of all time, because that would be a total lie. There are plenty of long novels that are well worth reading, but lots of quick hits are just as impactful, too. Sometimes, short books can fill you with just as much wonder and excitement as an entire series. They can hold just as much magic, reveal just as many truths, and touch you just as deeply as any long endeavor.
The best part? Because of their format, short books are the kind that can be read quickly — so fast that you'll have time to read them again and again. Here are 13 short books that are so good you'll want to reread about a zillion times:
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Controversial pick, I know, but hear me out, especially if this one bored you to tears in 9th grade English. Edith Wharton's masterpiece is not her 272-page novel House of Mirth (though the provocative exploration of turn-of-the-century New York high society is well worth reading), but instead, her tour de force is her slim book, Ethan Frome. It's a frank and at times shocking look at domestic life and all of the emotions, conflicts, and challenges that come with it. Far from a pick-me-up tale, Ethan Frome might be tragic, but it's worth breaking your heart over more than once.
The Mist by Stephen King
Some of Stephen King's most beloved works clock in at over 1,000 pages (I'm looking at you, The Stand and It), but The Mist is King at his creepiest, his scariest, and his most frightening. Much better than the 2007 film adaptation by the same name, The Mist, which was originally published as a novella in the Skeleton Crew collection. It is a fast-paced, spine-tingling story of a town taken over by a terrifying mist and isolated from the rest of the world — because of the government, of course. Short enough to finish in one reading, you'll want to sit around all day reliving this chilling tale.
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Although you probably read this in college, The Metamorphosis is a book from your required reading list you'll want to revisit long after you've handed in your final paper. A seminal work of fiction, this disturbing, sometimes even grotesque novella is one you'll want to reread, if not for its literary genius, than just in order to wrap your head around WTF just happened to Gregor.
Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote
Admit it, you've seen the Audrey Hepburn movie about a million times — no judgement, because I've probably seen it even more. It's about time you read the Truman Capote novel that it's based on, too. Don't worry, Holly Golightly is just as charming and Fred, the narrator, is just as swoon-worthy. Their relationship? Even more complicated than the one on screen. Breakfast at Tiffany's won't just be on your "Recently Watched" Netflix list anymore, but also permanently on your nightstand.
Natural Histories Guadalupe Nettel
Celebrated Mexican writer Guadalupe Nettel's breathtaking collection parallels the complicated lives of humans with the natural lives of the creatures that surround them. Moving and thought-provoking, Natural Histories is as poetic as it is philosophical, and you'll want to explore it's every layer over and over again.
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
How much trouble can one man get into in less than 150 pages? If you're private detective Philip Marlowe then the answer is a lot — including murder, kidnapping, and a whole lot of sex. Raymond Chandler's first novel featuring the iconic detective will not only be one you'll frequently dog-ear, but it will likely get you hooked on Chandler's other detective stories as well.
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Despite it's brevity, Kate Chopin's The Awakening, which chronicles the infidelities of a repressed and desperate wife and the shocking repercussions of them, packs a powerful punch. It is a deeply emotional and honest look at a woman's struggle with society's expectations for her as a wife, mother, and as a woman. You'll want to, no, have to reread this groundbreaking work.
Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll
Although Lewis Carroll's beloved Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is also fewer than 100 pages, the book's slender sequel is the one you will want to read more than once — and probably out loud. Humpty Dumpty, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, and the Jabberwocky all grace the fun, absurd pages of this novella. Be prepared to scratch your head, laugh out loud, and get lost in the unforgettable world of Wonderland time and time again.
The Subterraneans by Jack Kerouac
In the true style of the Beat generation, Jack Keroac's The Subterraneans captures the madness, the lust, and the love of San Francisco in the changing 1950s. Neal Cassidy, William S. Burroughs, and Allen Ginsberg all make a disguised appearance, as in most of Kerouac's work, in this semi-autobiographical novella about the author's brief but passionate relationship with Alene Lee, a black female member of the Beat generation who appeared, in one form or another, in several of Kerouac's works. A whirlwind of words and emotions, The Subterraneans will knock you off your feet with each new reading.
Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin
Love has the power to move you, to change you, to free you, but as James Baldwin's short but radical text explains, love can also consume you, torture you, and even kill you. Giovanni's Room tackles comples issues of sexuality and desire with a such honesty and such heart that it will make you come back for more.
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
Ghost stories don't have to be long in order to scare your pants off. Henry James's short classic is the haunting story of two young children and the psychological terror of their governess, and even though it's frightening enough to make you sleep with the lights on, you'll want to experience it's terror again and again. You know, kind of like a roller coaster — only way creepier.
Little Bird by Anaïs Nin
One of the most profound writers of erotica, Anaïs Nin doesn't need 400 pages to turn you on, or completely disturb you for that matter. Little Birds, a short collection of erotic stories featuring many of the same characters from Delta of Venus, will do what most Nin books do best: push you way beyond your comfort zone, where you'll find yourself not only aroused but also questioning everything you thought you knew about sex.
Sula by Toni Morrison
Friendships are complicated, but what does it take to shatter them completely? Toni Morrison explores the strength of the bond of female relationships through the context of two childhood friends who grew up to be complete opposites. Stirring and emotional, Sula is a short novel meant to be read with care, slowly and often.
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