20 Great Short Books You Can Read In A Day

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Most of the novels or stories on this list are less than 200 pages and they’re perfect for those who are so busy and can’t find enough time to enjoy good books. You can read them in a café when you’re sipping your coffee or on the way to school/work. Or just a couple of peaceful hours in a park is enough for you to finish them!

The list in not in any kind of order and the book descriptions were taken from Wikipedia.

1. The Royal Game, Stefan Zweig, 71 pages

Driven to mental anguish as the result of total isolation by the National Socialists, Dr B, a monarchist hiding valuable assets of the nobility from the new regime, maintains his sanity only through the theft of a book of past masters' chess games which he plays endlessly, voraciously learning each one until they overwhelm his imagination to such an extent that he becomes consumed by chess.

After absorbing every single move of any variation in the book, and having nothing more to explore, Dr. B begins to play the game against himself, developing the ability to separate his psyche into two personas...

2. The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, 112 pages

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The Little Prince is a poetic tale, with watercolor illustrations by the author, in which a pilot stranded in the desert meets a young prince fallen to Earth from a tiny asteroid. The story is philosophical and includes social criticism, remarking on the strangeness of the adult world. It was written during a period when Saint-Exupéry fled to North America subsequent to the Fall of France during the Second World War, witnessed first hand by the author and captured in his memoir Flight to Arras.

3. The Stranger, Albert Camus, 119 pages

The Stranger's theme and outlook are often cited as examples of Camus's philosophy of the absurd and existentialism, though Camus personally rejected the latter label.

The title character is Meursault, an indifferent French Algerian. He attends his mother's funeral. A few days later he kills an Arab man in French Algiers, who was involved in a conflict with a friend. Meursault is tried and sentenced to death. The story is divided into two parts, presenting Meursault's first-person narrative view before and after the murder, respectively.

4. The Overcoat, Nikolay Gogol, 96 pages

The __Overcoat is a short story by Ukrainian-born Russian author Nikolai Gogol, published in 1842. The story and its author have had great influence on Russian
literature, as expressed in a quote attributed to Fyodor Dostoyevsky:
"We all come out from Gogol's 'Overcoat'." The story has been adapted
into a variety of stage and film interpretations.

The story narrates the life and death
of titular counselor Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin, an impoverished
government clerk, and copyist in the Russian capital of St. Petersburg.
Akaky is dedicated to his job, though little recognized in his department for
his hard work. Instead, the younger clerks tease him and attempt to distract
him whenever they can. His threadbare overcoat is often the butt of their
jokes. Akaky decides it is necessary to have the coat repaired, so he takes it
to his tailor, Petrovich, who declares the coat irreparable, telling Akaky he
must buy a new overcoat...

5. Listen, Little Man!, Wilhelm Reich, 128 pages

Listen, Little Man! reflects the inner turmoil of a scientist and physician who had observed the little man for many years and seen, first with astonishment, then with horror, what he does to himself; how he suffers, rebels, honors his enemies and murders his friends; how, wherever he acquires power "in the name of the people," he misuses it and transforms it into something more cruel than the tyranny he had previously suffered at the hands of upper-class sadists...

6. Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 111 pages

It tells, in the form of a pseudo-journalistic reconstruction, the story of the murder of Santiago Nasar by the two Vicario brothers.

The non-linear story, told by an anonymous narrator, begins with the morning of Santiago Nasar's death. The reader learns that Santiago lives with his mother, Placida Linero; the cook, Victoria Guzman; and the cook's daughter, Divina Flor. Santiago took over the successful family ranch after the death of his father Ibrahim, who was of Arabic origin. He returns home in the early morning hours from an all-night celebration of a wedding between a recent newcomer, Bayardo San Roman, and a long-term resident, Angela Vicario. Two hours after the wedding, Angela was dragged back to her mother's home by Bayardo because she was not a virgin. After a beating from her mother, Angela is forced to reveal the name of the man who has defiled her purity and honor...

7. The Catcher In The Rye, J. D. Salinger, 200 pages

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A controversial novel originally published for adults, it has since become popular with adolescent readers for its themes of teenage angst and alienation. It has been translated into almost all of the world's major languages.

The novel takes place over three days in December 1949. Holden Caulfield is a 16-year-old boy from New York City. He recently flunked out of prestigious boarding schools because he doesn't apply himself. Holden tells the story from a tuberculosis rest home, 1 year after the events take place (he was 16 at the time).

8. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck, 128 pages

Published in 1937, Of Mice and Men tells the story of George Milton and Lennie Small, two displaced migrant ranch workers, who move from place to place in California in search of new job opportunities during the Great Depression in the United States.

Based on Steinbeck's own experiences as a bindlestiff in the 1920s (before the arrival of the Okies he would vividly describe in The Grapes of Wrath), the title is taken from Robert Burns' poem "To a Mouse," which read: "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft agley". (The best-laid schemes of mice and men / Often go awry.)

9. A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess, 176 pages

A Clockwork Orange is a dystopian novel published in 1962. Set in a near future English society featuring a subculture of extreme youth violence, the teenage protagonist, Alex, narrates his violent exploits and his experiences with state authorities intent on reforming him. The book is partially written in a Russian-influenced argot called "Nadsat".

In 2005, A Clockwork Orange was included on Time magazine's list of the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923, and it was named by Modern Library and its readers as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.

10. Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka, 104 pages

The Metamorphosis is a novella first published in 1915. It has been called one of the seminal works of fiction of the 20th century and is studied in colleges and universities across the Western world.

The story begins with a traveling salesman, Gregor Samsa, waking to find himself transformed (metamorphosed) into a large, monstrous insect-like creature. The cause of Gregor's transformation is never revealed, and Kafka himself never gave an explanation. The rest of Kafka's novella deals with Gregor's attempts to adjust to his new condition as he deals with being burdensome to his parents and sister, who are repelled by the horrible, verminous creature Gregor has become.

11. Memories of My Melancholy Whores, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 96 pages

Memories of My Melancholy Whores  is a novella originally published in Spanish in 2004. 

An old journalist, who has just celebrated his 90th birthday, seeks sex with a young prostitute, who is selling her virginity to help her family. Instead of sex, he discovers a love for the first time in his life.

12. Animal Farm, George Orwell, 160 pages

Animal Farm is an allegorical and dystopian novella first published in England on 17 August 1945. According to Orwell, the book reflects events leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917 and then on into the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union. Orwell, a democratic socialist, was a critic of Joseph Stalin and hostile to Moscow-directed Stalinism, an attitude that was critically shaped by his experiences during the Spanish Civil War. The Soviet Union, he believed, had become a brutal dictatorship, built upon a cult of personality and enforced by a reign of terror...

13. The Tale of the Unknown Island, Jose Saramago, 64 pages

A man requests the king of his country to give him a boat so he can go in search of "the unknown island." The king questions him about the existence of such an island and tries to convince the man that all islands already appear on maps. The man states that only the known islands do. This debate concludes with the king granting him a boat.

During the following passages, the man's quest to know himself expands into greater introspection. There he finds, much to his amazement, that the journey of exploration has started even before he has set the sails on the ship...

14. The Blind Owl, Sadegh Hedayat, 160 pages

The Blind Owl is Sadegh Hedayat's magnum opus and a major literary work of 20th century Iran. Written in Persian, it tells the story of an unnamed pen case painter, the narrator, who sees in his macabre, feverish nightmares that "the presence of death annihilates all that is imaginary. We are the offspring of death and death delivers us from the tantalizing, fraudulent attractions of life; it is death that beckons us from the depths of life. If at times we come to a halt, we do so to hear the call of death... Throughout our lives, the finger of death points at us." The narrator addresses his murderous confessions to the shadow on his wall resembling an owl. His confessions do not follow a linear progression of events and often repeat and layer themselves thematically, thus lending to the open-ended nature of interpretation of the story.

15. Notes From Underground, Fyodor Dostoevsky, 216 pages

Notes From Underground is considered by many to be one of the first existentialist novels. It presents itself as an excerpt from the rambling memoirs of a bitter, isolated, unnamed narrator (generally referred to by critics as the Underground Man) who is a retired civil servant living in St. Petersburg. The first part of the story is told as a monologue, or the underground man's diary, and attacks emerging Western philosophy, especially Nikolay Chernyshevsky's What Is to Be Done?. The second part of the book is called "Apropos of the Wet Snow," and describes certain events that, it seems, are destroying and sometimes renewing the underground man, who acts as a first person, unreliable narrator, and anti-hero.

16. The Sorrows of Young Werther, Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, 192 pages

Most of The Sorrows of Young Werther is presented as a collection of letters written by Werther, a young artist of a sensitive and passionate temperament, to his friend Wilhelm. These give an intimate account of his stay in the fictional village of Wahlheim  whose peasants have enchanted him with their simple ways. There he meets Charlotte, a beautiful young girl who takes care of her siblings after the death of their mother. Werther falls in love with Charlotte despite knowing beforehand that she is engaged to a man named Albert eleven years her senior.

17. Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Richard Bach, 152 pages

Jonathan Livingston Seagull is a fable in novella form about a seagull learning about life and flight, and a homily about self-perfection. It was first published in 1970 as "Jonathan Livingston Seagull — a story." By the end of 1972, over a million copies were in print, Reader's Digest had published a condensed version, and the book had reached the top of the New York Times Best Seller list, where it remained for 38 weeks.

18. Poor Folk, Fyodor Dostoevsky, 288 pages

Varvara Dobroselova and Makar Devushkin are second cousins twice-removed and live across from each other on the same street in terrible apartments. Devushkin's, for example, is merely a portioned-off section of the kitchen, and he lives with several other tenants, such as the Gorshkovs, whose son who groans in agonizing hunger almost the entire story and eventually dies. Devushkin and Dobroselova exchange letters attesting to their terrible living conditions and the former frequently squanders his money on gifts for her.

19. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho, 197 pages

The Alchemist follows the journey of an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago. Believing a recurring dream to be prophetic, he decides to travel to a Romani fortune-teller in a nearby town to discover its meaning. The woman interprets the dream as a prophecy telling the boy that there is a treasure in the pyramids of Egypt.

20. Hunger, Knut Hamsun, 272 pages

The novel has been hailed as the literary opening of the 20th century and an outstanding example of modern, psychology-driven literature. Hunger portrays the irrationality of the human mind in an intriguing and sometimes humorous manner.

Written after Hamsun's return from an ill-fated tour of America, Hunger is loosely based on the author's own impoverished life before his breakthrough in 1890. Set in late 19th-century Kristiania, the novel recounts the adventures of a starving young man whose sense of reality is giving way to a delusionary existence on the darker side of a modern metropolis. While he vainly tries to maintain an outer shell of respectability, his mental and physical decay are recounted in detail. His ordeal, enhanced by his inability or unwillingness to pursue a professional career, which he deems unfit for someone of his abilities, is pictured in a series of encounters which Hamsun himself described as "a series of analyses."

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