Okay, so you’ve polished off the list of long books, and now you need a break. You’re looking for something short and sweet, a story you can digest easily but will still leave you satisfied. Well, lucky for you, we’ve got you covered. Here are eight books that, at a maximum of 170 pages, you can easily read in a single day.

 

1. We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson

Approximate Length: 160 pages

Published three years before her death, this is Shirley Jackson’s final novel and one of her best. A deliciously unsettling read, the plot revolves around the strange, possibly murderous Blackwood family whose isolated existence is threatened with the arrival of an unscrupulous stranger. Drawing on themes of otherness, persecution, and agoraphobia, Jackson infuses the novel with an almost palpable sense of dread. Yes, you can read it in a day, but this dark, twisty story will stay with you a lot longer.

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Source: Amazon

2. The Old Man And The Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Approximate Length: 90 pages

If you haven’t yet read this American classic, do yourself a favor and pick it up. Even people who don’t like Hemingway like The Old Man and the Sea, and with good reason. On the face of it, the story doesn’t sound like much— an elderly Cuban fisherman heads out to sea and spends days trying to catch an immense marlin. But behind this deceptively simple plot is a beautiful, poignant story of courage in the face of defeat, triumph in loss, and the relationship between man and nature. Powerful and moving, this is not a book to be missed.

Source: Amazon
Source: Amazon

3. The War Of The Worlds by H.G. Wells

Approximate Length: 100 pages

A staple of the sci-fi genre, The War of the Worlds is one of the first (and best) stories of alien invasion and extraterrestrial war. When Martians invade the Earth, the unnamed narrator is separated from his wife. In his journey to be reunited with her, he witnesses both the crumbling of human civilization and its unexpected salvation. A quick and easy read, The War of the Worlds features plenty of action and none of Dakota Fanning’s ear-splitting screams. It also inspired scientist Robert Goddard to invent both the liquid fueled rocket and the multistage rocket, making this book indirectly responsible for the Apollo 11 moon landing.

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Source: Amazon

4. The Pearl by John Steinbeck

Approximate Length: 95 pages

Inspired by a Mexican folk tale, The Pearl tells the story of the impoverished diver Kino, who finds an enormous pearl that promises to end his family’s hardships forever. However, things don’t go according to plan and soon Kino is confronted with the darker side not only of the people around him, but also of himself. A stark exploration of human greed and corruption, Steinbeck’s novel is short but powerful— the literary equivalent of a swift punch to the gut. It may not be the easiest read, but it’s one you won’t soon forget.

Source: Amazon
Source: Amazon

5. Breakfast At Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

Approximate Length: 170 pages

Norman Mailer famously declared that he “would not have changed two words in Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” and honestly, it’s hard to disagree. Capote’s novel is a quick and breezy read, packed full of wit, poignancy, and charm. At the heart of it is Holly Golightly, the free-spirited New York socialite who has become one of literature’s most iconic heroines. Described by one critic as “the most romantic story ever written,” it’s hard not to fall in love with this lively, exuberant book.

Source: Amazon
Source: Amazon

6. The Turn Of The Screw by Henry James

Approximate Length: 100 pages

Featuring a shy governess, a mysterious employer, an imposing estate, and a pair of creepy children, The Turn of the Screw is widely considered to be one of the finest ghost stories ever written. At least, it’s ostensibly a ghost story— critics are still divided on exactly what the evil at the heart of the story is, and whether the ghosts are supernatural entities or the products of a diseased mind. Whatever the case, the fact remains that this is one of the most spine-tingling stories you’ll ever read. Filled with suspense and suffused with a creeping unease, The Turn of the Screw is a masterfully told tale that should definitely only be read by the light of day.

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Source: Amazon

7. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

Approximate Length: 45 pages

This is by far the shortest read on this list, but it packs more weirdness into its 45 pages than some novels manage in ten times that length. Gregor Samsa, a traveling salesman, awakens one morning to find that he has been mysteriously transformed into a bug. He and his family struggle to adjust to his new form, and the result is a story that is both straightforward and utterly complex. Kafka’s description of Samsa’s plight combines dry, cynical humor with quiet sadness to create a book you can read in an hour but think about for years.

Source: Amazon
Source: Amazon

8. The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West

Approximate Length: 90 pages

A college professor of mine described this novel as a “small gem” and I’m hard-pressed to think of a better way of putting it. Published at the end of World War I, The Return of the Soldier tells the story of Captain Chris Baldry, a shell-shocked soldier, and the three women he returns to. West writes with elegant, lyrical prose, and her novel is filled with quiet beauty, sadness, and hope. One of the finest example of World War I literature, this book is a piercing exploration of the nature of love, the complexities of the human experience, and the effects of war on both those who serve in the front lines and those who wait at home.

Source: Amazon
Source: Amazon

What’s your favorite quick and easy read?

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