Today I’m talking about some of my favorite books that are less than 200 pages long. I am not including short stories, collections, or series and will be focusing on full-length, standalone books that tell a story in its entirety. These are not in any specific order. I hope you find something you like and pick one up for a leisurely weekend read.
1. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Coming in at 158 pages and first published in 1953, this dystopian novel has been a favorite of mine since I first read it in high school. I read it again recently and still love it. A world where books are considered contraband, “firemen” are dispatched to burn any books that are found. Everything is fireproof so the firemen in this book actually start fires instead of put them out. Bradbury was an excellent writer and this is a great introduction if you have yet to discover his work.
2. The Stranger by Albert Camus
At 123 pages and published in 1942, The Stranger is the story of a man who seemingly commits murder for no reason whatsoever. The despondency of the main character, Meursault, is a mystery that pulls the reader in and his apathy is what makes the ending memorable.
3. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Published in 1943 and 96 pages of pure innocence, The Little Prince is one of those stories that remind you that life is actually simple and magical when you remove all of unnecessary responsibilities we place on ourselves. It does so by reminding us of what the universe looks like through the eyes of a child. This short read is accompanied by several illustrations so it is an even quicker read than you might expect. Perfect to read during a morning coffee or to read aloud to a child before bed.
4. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Published in 1952, this novel comes in at 127 pages. It was also the last major work of fiction published during Hemingway’s life. The story follows an old Cuban fisherman as he spends roughly an entire day attempting to haul in the largest catch of his life. Kind of like a mini Moby Dick, this book gets to the point much faster and tells a more personal, introspective account.
5. Anthem by Ayn Rand
Another dystopian story, but published in 1938, this book imagines a world “after World War III,” or effectively after humanity blows itself back to a stone age. The resulting society has eliminated the use of the word “I” or any other possessive term. People are simply known by a combination of a word and numbers and everyone practices the belief that they must only act in the interest of everyone else. At 104 pages, it is a very quick but thought-provoking story.
6. Art Matters by Neil Gaiman & Chris Riddell
Less of a book and more of a speech/credo, this 112 page book doesn’t feature actual page numbers and is filled mostly by beautiful illustrations by Chris Riddell. I greatly enjoy this little title because of its brevity and reminder that life is a beautiful thing much simpler than we like to make it out to be. It released just last year in 2018.
7. A Slow Regard for Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss
This title comes with a caveat. At 159 pages and published in 2014, this book I consider as supplemental material to Pat’s popular series The Kingkiller Chronicles. I consider is supplemental because it is the week in the life of Auri, a minor but important and mysterious character from the series. You can definitely read this without reading the series first, but you may not fully appreciate Auri’s nature. It is not technically included in the series itself so I consider it standalone but with recommended a prerequisite.
8. The Time Machine by H. G. Wells
Published in 1895 and coming in at only 84 pages, this story contains and is itself a time traveling story. It reads like it was written recently save for a few dated word choices and a somewhat dated initial setting. I consider this an essential read for anyone interested in the history of science fiction.
9. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
2014 brought us this 178 page story about a man revisiting his childhood home after attending a funeral. He remembers the events that took place 40 years earlier, which include a young girl named Lettie Hempstock, an evil spirit, and the clash of supernatural forces. Another magical read by a master craftsman.
10. The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis
Formatted as a series of letters from the demon Screwtape to another demon by the name of Wormwood. This story shows a one-sided tale of an uncle attempting to guide his nephew in his task of securing a man’s soul for the devil. At 160 pages, and published in 1942, this book was dedicated to Lewis’s good friend J.R.R. Tolkien and provides plenty of laughs.