Short and spectacular: 21 great novels under 250 pages

From classic to contemporary, discover our favourite short books and novellas, guaranteed to stay with you long after the final page.


As rewarding as tackling an immersive epic can be, sometimes short novels that can be finished in a weekend linger with us the longest. So, we’ve curated our edit of the best short books. Each under 250 pages, whilst a little more commute friendly than a 600+ page tome, they’re guaranteed to make a lasting impact.


sula toni morrison


Toni Morrison's Sula is an essential book in the formation of black feminist literary criticism, tackling themes of womanhood, race, slavery and love.

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things fall apart

Things Fall Apart

A classic from 1958 set in 1890s Nigeria, about the fight between colonialism and traditional societies. Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart is one of the first African novels to receive global critical acclaim.

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the vegetarian

The Vegetarian

Set in South Korea, this is the story of Yeong-hye and her decision to become a vegetarian and the shocking reaction that this ‘rebellion’ triggers in her family. A deserving winner of the Man Booker International Prize 2016.

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One day in the life of Ivan

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Covering a single day in the life of an ordinary prisoner in a 1950s Soviet labour camp, this short novel was described by the Sunday Times as ‘a blow struck for human freedom all over the world'.

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who will run the frog hospital

Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?

An exploration of adolescence and then middle age, as the narrator recalls her youth and experiences while growing up in New York.

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Grief is a Thing with Feathers


Grief Is The Thing With Feathers

Winner of the 2016 International Dylan Thomas Prize and one of the most highly acclaimed novels of recent times, Max Porter’s debut novel is an astonishing, and surprisingly humorous, study of a man and his two sons dealing with the loss of their mother.

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Old Man and the Sea

The Old Man and the Sea

Awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1953, this was Hemingway’s last major work of fiction to be published during his lifetime, and tells the story of an aging Cuban fisherman’s battle with a giant marlin.

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Wide Sargasso Sea

Wide Sargasso Sea

Written as a prequel and postcolonial response to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, this explores the story of a Creole heiress, Antoinette, who is forced into an unhappy marriage with an unnamed English gentleman (implied to be Mr Rochester)

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Yellow Wallpaper

The Yellow Wall-Paper

One of the shortest reads on our list at just over 60 pages, this was first published in 1892 and depicts the effects of under-stimulation on the narrator, which lead her to become obsessed with the colour of her wallpaper. An important early work of American feminist literature.

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bonjour tristesse

Bonjour Tristesse

Bonjour Tristesse scandalised 1950s France with its portrayal of precocious teenager Cécile, a heroine who rejects conventional notions of love, marriage and responsibility to choose her own sexual freedom.

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