20 Short Novels You Can Finish In A Single Weekend

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!


'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, Human Acts, explores the decades-long impact of one casualty on the lives of those who knew him.

Click Here To Buy


'Binary Star' by Sarah Gerard

Paperback Page Count: 172

An astronomer with bulimia fights to reconcile her feelings for her long-distance boyfriend with his emotional unavailability in this stunning 2015 debut.

Click Here To Buy


'Mislaid' by Nell Zink

Paperback Page Count: 256

When an ill-advised marriage goes south, a white lesbian woman leaves her gay husband and young son behind to start a new life with their daughter, whom she raises under an assumed black persona.

Click Here To Buy


'Lost Boi' by Sassafras Lowrey

Paperback Page Count: 233

A queer, punk Peter Pan retelling? Yep. Lost Boi 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.

Click Here To Buy


'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


'Atmospheric Disturbances' by Rivka Galchen

Paperback Page Count: 256

In this unsettling 2008 novel from Canadian-American author Rivka Galchen, a doctor sets off in search of his wife after someone kidnaps her and leaves a lifelike replica in her stead.

Click Here To Buy


'The Queue' by Basma Abdel Aziz

Paperback Page Count: 224

Set in a surreal version of Egypt, The Queue 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.

Click Here To Buy


'When the Emperor Was Divine' by Julie Otsuka

Paperback Page Count: 144

Julie Otsuka's debut novel, When the Emperor Was Divine, follows a Japanese-American family separated from their patriarch and sent to concentration camps during World War II.

Click Here To Buy


'Sphinx' by Anne F. Garréta

Paperback Page Count: 152

This experimental French novel tells the love story of I and A***, whose affair is rendered without any clues as to who is of what gender.

Click Here To Buy


'Flea Circus' by Mandy Keifetz

Paperback Page Count: 202

After her lover commits suicide, a young woman alphabetically catalogs their belongings and her memories.

Click Here To Buy


'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


'Open City' by Teju Cole

Paperback Page Count: 261

Nigerian-born med student Julius wanders the streets of Manhattan at night, collecting stories from his diverse neighbors.

Click Here To Buy


'Exit West' by Mohsin Hamid

Hardcover Page Count: 240

Young couple Saeed and Nadia escape their fragmenting country through a magical door to Europe in this fast-paced novel of immigration.

Click Here To Buy


'The Orange Eats Creeps' by Grace Krilanovich

Paperback Page Count: 172

After her foster-sister disappears, a woman with ESP and a psychic connection to a Donner Party survivor sets out find her on "The Highway That Eats People."

Click Here To Buy


'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


'Dept. of Speculation' by Jenny Offill

Paperback Page Count: 180

Jenny Offill's delightful short novel, Dept. of Speculation, fast-forwards through a Brooklyn writer's marriage.

Click Here To Buy


'Home' by Toni Morrison

Paperback Page Count: 145

Hurt by the horrors of war and the racism he faces when he returns home to the U.S., a Korean War veteran dedicates himself to his sister: a victim of Southern eugenics.

Click Here To Buy


'The Clouds' by Juan José Saer

Paperback Page Count: 177

The recently discovered memoir of a 19th-century psychiatrist-in-training takes center stage in this clever novel from Argentinian author Juan José Saer.

Click Here To Buy


'A Separation' by Katie Kitamura

Hardcover Page Count: 231

After her husband mysteriously disappears in Greece, the unnamed narrator of Katie Kitamura's The Separation goes to find him.

Click Here To Buy


'The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe' by Kij Johnson

Paperback Page Count: 176

Based on H.P. Lovecraft's The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, Kij Johnson's The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe sets a 55-year-old mathematics professor on a mission to save her star pupil.

Click Here To Buy