5 Classic Novels By Women You Really Should Read — And Can Finish In One Sitting
It's nearly halfway through summer, do you know how your summer reading goals are doing? If you're trying to check more of your TBR list but aren't sure how to get it all done before fall hits, try picking up one of these short but compelling classic novels by women you can finish in one sitting.
When you think about Literature with a capital L, what authors come to mind? Do you automatically think or Charles Dickens and Fyodor Dostoyevsky, or maybe James Joyce or John Steinbeck? More often than not when we talk about "the classics," we're talking about one particular kind of classic — the kind written by white men. In reality, classic literature is written by a wonderfully diverse group of authors that include — gasp! — women.
If you're like me and like to use your summer reading to catch up on the classics, why not do things differently this year. Forget about The Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby, and Great Expectations — not to mention their incredibly toxic male protagonists — and instead pick up one of these five novels by women. They're short enough to finish in one sitting, but riveting enough you'll never want them to end.
'The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories' by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Paperback Page Count: 70
It may not be very long, but Charlotte Perkins Gilman's feminist masterpiece "The Yellow Wallpaper" is utterly devastating. A chilling account of a woman's forced confinement and subsequent descent into madness, it's unsettling allegory for women's oppression at home, in the workforce, and in the medical world that, although written over a century ago, still rings true today. Read it, alongside six of Gilman's best stories, in this short but essential collection.
'To the Lighthouse' by Virginia Woolf
Paperback Page Count: 224
In the Virginia Woolf classic To the Lighthouse, the Ramsay family and several quests are on holiday at their summer home on on the Isle of Skye, one of the most picturesque islands in Scotland's famed Hebrides. What follows is a sharp philosophical examination of loss, disappointment, beauty, childhood emotions, adult relationships, family dynamics, and so much more. A short but powerful read, this 20th century masterpiece makes for great company at the beach.
'The Wedding' by Dorothy West
Paperback Page Count: 256
In the final novel from iconic Harlem Renaissance writer Dorothy West, the prominent Coles family, members of the East Coast's black bourgeoisie, gather for the wedding of one of their most beautiful daughters, Shelby. Although she could have picked any number of the eligible black men in her proud Oval community, Shelby fell for a white jazz musician from New York. The Wedding explores how her family and the people around her grapple with the shocking pairing, and in doing so, exposes the expectations and restrictions of race, class, and gender in 1950s America.
'Their Eyes Were Watching God' by Zora Neale Hurston
Paperback Page Count: 219
A heartbreaking story about love, family, race, and self-determination, Their Eyes Were Watching God packs a lot of power into its short 219 pages. It follows Janie Crawford, a vibrant young light-skinned black woman, through her marriage to three drastically different men, but Zora Neale Hurston's classic is about so much more than relationships. It's also about identity, gender roles, and what it means to be a free woman.
'And Then There Were None' by Agatha Christie
Paperback Page Count: 272
In this classic mystery by The Queen of Suspense, a group strangers are lured by false pretenses to an isolated island mansion off of the Devon coast. Ten individuals, each harboring a guilty secret of their own, arrive at the start, but by the end of their chilling stay, not everyone makes it out alive. A spine-tingling story of suspense, And Then There Were None is a true page-turner you won't want to put down.