I love a good short novel, but in a publishing world that increasingly prioritizes longreads, finding a great, contemporary story that's under 250 pages or so can be nigh impossible. For my fellow short-book lovers, I've got a list of 20
recent short novels that everyone should read.
If you're used to
reading 400-plus-page tome after 400-plus-page tome, throwing short novels into the mix can be quite the trip. Short books don't suffer from the bloat that plagues overly long titles. Telling a story in fewer than 300 pages requires authors to cut every word that isn't totally necessary to their plots, which results in tight, clean storytelling.
For the purposes of this list, I have tried to select books published since 2000 and with fewer than 250 pages. Anne F. Garréta's
Sphinx has been around for several decades, but only received an English translation in 2015, qualifying it — in this humble books writer's opinion — for inclusion here. None of the 20 titles on this list breaches the 300-page mark, which means that every single one of them is perfect for weekend reading. In fact, you could probably read most of them in a single day.
Check out my recommendations below, and share the recent short novels you think everyone should read with me on
Twitter! 1 'Human Acts' by Han Kang Paperback Page Count: 224
Beginning with the violent military suppression of a student-led resistance movement in 1980, South Korean author Han Kang's 2014 novel,
, explores the decades-long impact of one casualty on the lives of those who knew him. Human Acts Click Here To Buy 2 'Binary Star' by Sarah Gerard 4 'Lost Boi' by Sassafras Lowrey Paperback Page Count: 233
A queer, punk
Peter Pan retelling? Yep. reimagines Pan as the fearless leader of a group of young, gay squatters, resisting the call to join Hook's brigade of leather-clad pirates. Lost Boi Click Here To Buy 5 'Fever Dream' by Samanta Schweblin Hardcover Page Count: 192
A young woman lies in a remote hospital, accompanied only by a boy who is not her son. On her deathbed,
she recounts a dreadful poisoning that seemed to come from nowhere, and its effects on her family and friends. Click Here To Buy 6 'Atmospheric Disturbances' by Rivka Galchen 7 'The Queue' by Basma Abdel Aziz Paperback Page Count: 224
Set in a surreal version of Egypt,
centers on the ordinary citizens forced to wait in line before a Gate that never opens, in order to receive permission to perform even the most banal of tasks. The Queue Click Here To Buy 8 'When the Emperor Was Divine' by Julie Otsuka 9 'Sphinx' by Anne F. Garréta 10 'Flea Circus' by Mandy Keifetz 11 'The Birds of Opulence' by Crystal Wilkinson Hardcover Page Count: 208 Matriarch Minnie Mae has presided over the Goode-Brown family of Opulence for decades, but she struggles to accept what she perceives as her descendents' shortcomings and slights. Click Here To Buy 12 'Open City' by Teju Cole 13 'Exit West' by Mohsin Hamid 14 'The Orange Eats Creeps' by Grace Krilanovich 15 'The Guest Cat' by Takashi Hiraide Paperback Page Count: 140
When two married, but disconnected, writers rent a guesthouse to get some work done, neither of them expects to fall in love with
Chibi, their new neighbors' cat. Click Here To Buy 16 'Dept. of Speculation' by Jenny Offill 17 'Home' by Toni Morrison 18 'The Clouds' by Juan José Saer 19 'A Separation' by Katie Kitamura Hardcover Page Count: 231
After her husband mysteriously disappears in Greece, the unnamed narrator of Katie Kitamura's
goes to find him. The Separation Click Here To Buy 20 'The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe' by Kij Johnson
Get Even More From Bustle — Sign Up For The Newsletter
From hair trends to relationship advice, our daily newsletter has everything you need to sound like a person who’s on TikTok, even if you aren’t.