While the bookworm in me loves few things more than curling up on the couch with a thick, weighty hardcover and cozying in for the span of a 400-plus-page story, it’s also true that super short books need a little love too — and believe me, you will love the short books on this list right back. Whether you're trying to catch up to your yearly reading goal (we all make these, right?) or you’re just looking for a great, short book to get you through one of those rare, otherwise-unoccupied afternoons that always seem to pop up mid-summer, the titles on this list have got you covered — they’re all short books you can read in a day. But don’t let their page counts fool you: you’re definitely not sacrificing plot, style, or substance with any of these super short reads. (With writers like Truman Capote, Elena Ferrante, Kate Chopin, and more, you wouldn’t expect anything less than the very best anyway, am I right?)
Get ready to clear your calendar (at least for the rest of the day, that is) and start turning some pages, because here are eight short books you can finish in one day or less.
1. 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' by Truman Capote
Page Count: 179
With the average reader taking only two hours and 16 minutes to finish Truman Capote’s novella, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, you can definitely squeeze this book into an afternoon (or even spread it across your morning and afternoon commutes.) The novella traces the antics, anxieties, and dark glamour, and beauty of the one and only twentieth century American socialite, Holly Golightly.
2. 'The Subterraneans' by Jack Kerouac
Page Count: 111
Though one of Jack Kerouac’s lesser-read novels, The Subterraneans will only require one hour and 34 minutes of the average reader’s time — that’s basically the amount of time it takes to read an extra-wordy magazine. The novel takes readers to post-World War II San Francisco, and into a brief affair between the writer Leo Percepied and Mardou Fox, a black woman ten years his junior. It’s artsy and erotic.
3. 'Jesus' Son: Stories' by Denis Johnson
Page Count: 133
In honor of the recent death of a truly one-of-a-kind writer whom the literary world will deeply miss, Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son is a collection of semi-linked short stories that just beg to be read in one sitting. The average reader only needs one hour and 53 minutes to read her way through this collection of fiction, which is filled with in-your-face imagery and a cast of thieves, prostitutes, adulterers, and drug addicts who are all just slightly off the mark when it comes to seizing the moments of transformation and redemption in their lives.
4. 'Troubling Love' by Elena Ferrante
Page Count: 139
If you don’t have time to dive all the way into the Neopolitan Novels but you still need some Elena Ferrante in your day, consider one of the writer’s shorter novels — like Troubling Love, which will only take up about one hour and 58 minutes of your life. Set in Ferrante’s iconic Naples, Italy, Troubling Love was the author’s debut novel, and follows a woman named Delia who is trying to piece together the mystery of her mother’s recent and untimely death.
5. 'Astrophysics for People in a Hurry' by Neil deGrasse Tyson
Page Count: 224
Now, I know that “astrophysics” and “quick read” might sound oxymoronic, but the title does specify “for people in a hurry” so believe me when I say that Neil deGrasse Tyson has got you covered here. Taking the average reader only three hours and 10 minutes to read, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry is a #1 New York Times bestseller about the complexities of space and time, and where human beings fit into the larger expanse of the universe. Yup, all that in just over three hours.
6. 'A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing' by Eimear McBride
Page Count: 240
Don’t let the fact that this is the longest short novel on this list deter you—even at 240 pages the experimental prose, creative use (or lack thereof) of punctuation, and stream-of-consciousness style make Eimear McBride’s debut novel, A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing, only a three hour and 24 minute read. The novel takes you directly inside the narrators’ minds, as they tell a sensitive and brutal story about the relationship between a young girl and her brother, navigating experiences of sexual violence, family crisis, and mental and physical illness.
7. 'The Awakening' by Kate Chopin
Page Count: 96
This one hour and 48 minute read was first published in 1899 — and at the time all 96 pages floored readers with their treatment of a woman’s erotic life and female marital infidelity. Kate Chopin’s The Awakening is as beautiful as it was groundbreaking, and 118 years later this one is still worthy of your TBR pile.
8. 'Tuck Everlasting' by Natalie Babbitt
Page Count: 160
Enjoy a little YA with your super short reads. Tuck Everlasting, by Natalie Babbitt, only takes the average reader two hours and 16 minutes from start to finish — although you might want to linger in the hot, sleepy environment of Babbitt’s magical spring for a tad longer than that. Especially when the crush between Winnie and Jesse starts to heat up.