50 short books for busy people

Best short books for busy people

Here are the novels, short stories and non-fiction books that will perfectly fit into your busy life.

What if we give Frank Zappa’s quote “so many books, so little time” a more positive meaning? There are many fantastic books short enough that it will take little time to finish them.

In the list below you’ll find 50 books we found most interesting. They are shorter than 200 pages, so you should be able to finish each book in a couple of hours.

Some readers think that a short story or a novella is not a book. Well, it is, as long as it’s released as a separate publication.

Don’t judge a book by its length. Shorter doesn’t mean worse. Longer doesn’t mean better.

And every book you read (because you have time for it) is better than a book you don’t (because it’s so long you assume you’ll never be able to finish it).

There are three sections in the list. You can jump to each one right from here:

For each book we created a visual that includes the number of pages (the dots show how it compares to the reference of 200 pages) plus a time it will take to read it.

Obviously, the reading time is an estimation. For the calculation, we use the reading speed of 300 words per minute, and 250 as the average number of words per page.

Within one hour a reader should be able to finish a book that is no longer than 72 pages. We’ve got such short reads collected in the list of 24 books to read under an hour.

Electronic format makes it possible to publish short stories as standalone books, not only in collections. That’s why major ebookstores see a lot of potential in short books, and devoted special sections to promote new titles:

Kindle Singles – the books are carefully selected by Amazon editors. You can find here not only short stories or novellas, but also non-fiction.

Kindle Short Reads – Amazon describes them as “great stories in one sitting”. The books are grouped according to their reading time: from 15-minute to 2-hour reads.

Nook Snaps – Barnes & Noble’s selection of exclusive quick reads includes short stories, long-form journalism, from the “most compelling voices.”

Kobo Exclusive Shorts – Kobo’s initiative to benefit from the revival of short form reading. So far, the list includes a few dozens titles.

Would you like to add a book to this overview? Please share it in the comments below. Thanks!

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50 best short books for busy people

Non-fiction books

1. The Art Of War – Sun Tzu

Best short books - The Art of War - Sun Tzu

The Art of War is a military book written in ancient China, in the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC).

A high-ranking general, strategist and philosopher Sun Tzu is usually credited as the author of the book, although many historians doubt this person ever existed.

In 13 chapters, the text analyzes the basic principles of war, teaching military commanders when and how to fight battles.

In the early 2000s the book became a bestseller, when it was found out many of its theories were surprisingly relevant in marketing and finance.

Number of pages: 62. Estimated reading time: 52 minutes.

⇢ Print

2. A Room of One’s Own – Virginia Woolf

Best short books - A Room of Ones Own - Virginia Woolf

This is Virginia Woolf’s classic non-fiction book and one of the most important feminist texts.

It’s an extended essay narrated by a fictional character, a Shakespeare’s sister named Judith, we learn whether women were ready – and free – to create work of the quality of William Shakespeare.

The title of the essay comes from Woolf’s opinion that “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”

Number of pages: 148. Estimated reading time: 123 minutes.

⇢ Kindle

3. The Elements of Style – William Strunk

Best short books - The Elements of Style - William Strunk

A classic prescriptive American English writing style guide, written by Cornell University professor William Strunk, and first published in 1919.

In the introduction to the first edition we read:

This book aims to give in brief space the principal requirements of plain English style. It aims to lighten the task of instructor and student by concentrating attention on a few essentials, the rules of usage and principles of composition most commonly violated.

Number of pages: 52. Estimated reading time: 43 minutes.

⇢ Internet Archive

4. The Heart of Haiku – Jane Hirshfield

Best short books - The Heart of Haiku - Jane Hirshfield

A beautiful essay on haiku and its most famous purveyor, Matsuo Bashō.

Haiku is a seventeen-syllable poetic form, now extremely popular and widely shared on social media.

This essay offers readers unparalleled insight into the living heart of haiku—how haiku work and what they hold, and how to read through and into their images to find a full expression of human life and perceptions, sometimes profound, sometimes playful.

Number of pages: 29. Estimated reading time: 24 minutes.

⇢ Kindle

5. Poke the Box – Seth Godin

Best short books - Poke the Box - Seth Godin

Seth Godin is an entrepreneur and marketing guru, who almost twenty books.

Poke the Box is a little book but a huge inspiration for anyone, who faces doing something for the first time. It’s not about thinking outside the box, because it might not be enough. It’s about poking the box.

It’s a call to action about the initiative you’re taking – in your job or in your life.

Number of pages: 95. Estimated reading time: 79 minutes.

⇢ Kindle

6. Nikola Tesla: Imagination and the Man That Invented the 20th Century – Sean Patrick

Best short books - Nicola Tesla - Sean Patrick

A short but inspirational book from Sean Patrick will let you learn why imagination is so vital to awakening your inner genius.

Nikola Tesla is one of history’s most fascinating minds. This book uncovers some of his secrets of imagination — “secrets that enabled him to invent machines light years ahead of his time and literally bring light to the world.”

Number of pages: 46. Estimated reading time: 38 minutes. 

⇢ Kindle

7. Alfred Hitchcock: The Man Who Knew Too Much – Michael Wood

Best short books - Alfred Hitchcock- The Man Who Knew Too Much - Michael Wood

In the Icons series Michael Wood presents life and works of one of the greatest filmmakers in history – Alfred Hitchcock.

In Hitchcock, Wood has found his ideal subject — an artist for whom explicit statement was anathema, who made conventional plot a hiding place rather than a source of revelation.

Number of pages: 146. Estimated reading time: 122 minutes.

⇢ Kindle

8. Lifeboat No. 8 – Elizabeth Kaye

Best short books - Lifeboat No. 8 - Elizabeth Kaye

Elizabeth Kaye, a longtime contributor to The New York Times, reveals the extraordinary, little-known story behind one of the first lifeboats to leave Titanic.

When the Titanic started sinking, who would make it off alive? The two cousins who had been so eager to see their first iceberg? The maid who desperately tried to escape with the baby in her care?

Number of pages: 67. Estimated reading time: 56 minutes.

⇢ Kindle

9. Economics in One Lesson – Henry Hazlitt

Best short books - Economics in One Lesson - Henry Hazlitt

A bestseller by Henry Hazlitt is the shortest way to understand basic economics.

This classic economic primer focuses on non-governmental solutions, free markets, economic liberty of individuals, and the dangers of government intervention.

It’s relevant today as it was at the time of the first publication in 1946.

Number of pages: 218. Estimated reading time: 182 minutes.

⇢ Kindle

10. Steal Like an Artist – Austin Kleon

Best short books - Steal Like an Artist - Austin Kleon

Austin Kleon, a young writer and artist based in Austin, Texas, wrote a highly inspirational and entertaining book on how to find creativity.

The message is simple: “You don’t need to be a genius, you just need to be yourself.”

Kleon advises to follow own interests, embrace influence, collect ideas and remix them, because nothing in the world is original.

Number of pages: 160. Estimated reading time: 133 minutes.

⇢ Kindle

11. The Gifts of Imperfection – Brené Brown

Best short books - The Gifts of Imperfection - Brene Brown

In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown engages our minds, hearts, and spirits as she explores how we can cultivate the courage and compassion.

Each day we face a barrage of images and messages from society and the media telling us who, what, and how we should be. We are led to believe that if we could only look perfect and lead perfect lives, we’d no longer feel inadequate.

Number of pages: 158. Estimated reading time: 132 minutes.

⇢ Kindle

12. Very Good Lives – J.K. Rowling

Best short books - Very Good Lives - J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling’s famous speech at Harvard University is now published as a book.

In Very Good Lives, J.K. Rowling asks provocative questions: How can we embrace failure? And how can we use our imagination to improve both ourselves and others?

A part of the profit from the book will come to a charity organization which helps transform the lives of disadvantaged children.

Number of pages: 81. Estimated reading time: 67 minutes.

⇢ Kindle

13. 10-Minute Declutter – Barrie Davenport and S.J. Scott

Best short books - 10-Minute Declutter - Barrie Davenport and S.J. Scott

Imagine living a home that’s free from clutter. It’s possible, and it’s easier than you think. All you need is 10 minutes a day.

10-Minute Declutter will show you the best ways to organize every space around you. The book provides a step-by-step plan for sorting, purging and organizing every space in your house in small, easy-to-manage time slots.

Number of pages: 160. Estimated reading time: 133 minutes.

⇢ Kindle

14. The Virtue of Selfishness – Ayn Rand

Best short books - The Virtue of Selfishness - Ayn Rand

A collection of essays and papers by the author of Atlas Shrugged Ayn Rand.

The book covers ethical and philosophical topics, including the evaluation of egoism as a rational code of ethics, and the destructiveness of altruism.

The book became one of Rand’s most popular non-fiction books, selling over 1.3 million copies.

Number of pages: 180. Estimated reading time: 150 minutes.

⇢ Kindle

15. Smile: The Astonishing Powers of a Simple Act – Ron Gutman

Best short books - Smile - Ron Gutman

In the TED Books series Ron Gutman explains why smiling is central to what makes us human.

From the broad beaming grin of a toddler to the oily smirk of a used car salesman, smiles convey an enormous range of emotions, from joyously happy to nervous or sad.

Number of pages: 48. Estimated reading time: 40 minutes.

⇢ Kindle

16. The Doors of Perception – Aldous Huxley

Best short books - The Doors of Perception - Aldous Huxley

From the author of Brave New World comes a 1954 book detailing his experiences when taking mescaline, the principal ingredient of the psychedelic cactus peyote.

Huxley took part in now legendary experiment to clinically detail the physiological and psychological effects of the drug, used in Native American religious rituals for thousands of years.

Number of pages: 100. Estimated reading time: 83 minutes.

⇢ Print

17. Guns – Stephen King

Best short books - Guns - Stephen King

In this essay, published as Kindle Single, Stephen King sets down his thoughts about gun violence in America.

Stephen King says about the book:

I think the issue of an America awash in guns is one every citizen has to think about. If this helps provoke constructive debate, I’ve done my job.

Number of pages: 25. Estimated reading time: 21 minutes.

⇢ Kindle

18. Sh*t My Dad Says – Justin Halpern

Best short books - Sh*t My Dad Says - Justin Halpern

When twenty-eight-year-old Justin Halpern moved back home, he began to record all the ridiculous things his dad.

At first, he was sharing his dad’s brilliantly funny quotes on Twitter. The profile got over a million followers, and the book was a natural follow-up.

Sh*t My Dad Says is a chaotic, hilarious, true portrait of a father-son relationship from a major new comic voice.

Number of pages: 176. Estimated reading time: 145 minutes.

⇢ Kindle

Short stories

19. The Snows of Kilimanjaro – Ernest Hemingway

Best short books - The Snows of Kilimanjaro - Ernest Hemingway

A short story written by Ernest Hemingway after he returned from a Kenyan safari in 1932. The story is regarded as one of his greatest works.

We follow Harry and his rich wife Helen, who are on safari in Africa. Harry is a procrastinating American writer. The safari was intended to bring him back to the virtues of hard work. Unfortunately he is dying of gangrene caused by an untreated infection.

The story centers around one of the characteristic themes of Hemingway’s writings – how a man behaves in the face of death.

Number of pages: 26. Estimated reading time: 22 minutes.

⇢ Kindle

20. The Case of the Caretaker – Agatha Christie

Best short books - The Case of the Caretaker - Agatha Christie

This is one of the classic crime short stories written by the master of detective fiction, Agatha Christie.

Published for the first time in 1942, the story follows an elderly spinster and amateur detective Jane Marple, very well known from Christie’s twelve crime novels.

Poor Miss Marple is in bed with flu, when reading Dr Haydock’s manuscript, based on real events which ended in a tragic death. But the doctor is convinced it was no accident and Miss Marple tends to agree with him…

Number of pages: 40. Estimated reading time: 33 minutes.

⇢ Kindle

21. Nine Stories – J.D. Salinger

Best short books - Nine Stories - J.D. Salinger

A 1953 collection of short stories by J.D. Salinger, the author of The Catcher in the Rye.

You’ll find here Salinger’s most famous short story, A Perfect Day for Bananafish, describing a young married couple, Muriel and Seymour Glass, who are on vacation in Florida.

Number of pages: 198. Estimated reading time: 165 minutes.

⇢ Print

22. Mile 81 – Stephen King

Best short books - Mile 81 - Stephen King

One of the best short stories written by Stephen King. It also includes an excerpt from a novel 11/22/63, about the assassination of President John Kennedy.

No one comes to a closed rest stop at Maine Turnpike, except high school kids who used to drink and smoke cigarettes here.

One day a station wagon comes to Mile 81 rest area, ignoring the sign saying the pace is out of service. The driver’s door opens, but nobody gets out…

Number of pages: 70. Estimated reading time: 58 minutes.

⇢ Kindle

23. Brokeback Mountain – Annie Proulx

Best short books - Brokeback Mountain - Annie Proulx

Many readers consider Brokeback Mountain as a masterpiece of storytelling and one of the most original short stories in contemporary literature.

Two young men are hired to look after sheep on a range above tree line on the fictional Brokeback Mountain in Wyoming.

At first, sharing an isolated tent, the attraction is casual, inevitable, but something deeper catches them that summer.

Number of pages: 64. Estimated reading time: 53 minutes.

⇢ Print

24. In the Penal Colony – Franz Kafka

Best short books - In the Penal Colony - Franz Kafka

In the Penal Colony is one of Franz Kafka’s most famous short stories. It’s set on a penal settlement located on an unnamed island.

As in many other works, Kafka deals with guilt, this time related to penalty, tortures, and execution. We follow the European voyager who visits the colony and witnesses a horrifying procedure of torturing the prisoner on a huge death machine.

Number of pages: 54. Estimated reading time: 45 minutes.

⇢ Kindle

25. Second Variety – Philip K. Dick

Best short books - Second Variety - Philip K. Dick

This short story is considered one of Philip K. Dick’s most compelling works.

Written in the cold war era, and published in 1953, it’s set after the nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the West. The war however continues. The Western forces have developed sophisticated self-replicating robots called “claws”.

The claws were bad enough in the first place – nasty, crawling little death-
robots. But when they began to imitate their creators, it was time for the human
race to make peace – if it could!

Number of pages: 50. Estimated reading time: 42 minutes.

⇢ Kindle

26. The Masque of the Red Death – Edgar Allan Poe

Best short books - The Masque of the Red Death - Edgar Allan Poe

Published in 1842, this bizarre gothic short story by Edgar Allan Poe is an allegory of the inevitability of death.

The Red Death is a deadly disease that spreads quickly in the fictional country. The main hero, Prince Prospero, tries to avoid it by hiding in his palace.

During the peak of the plague the half-mad prince organizes a masquerade ball. Each of the seven rooms of the abbey is decorated with a different color. A mysterious stranger appears, causing the death of Prospero and other guests.

Number of pages: 48. Estimated reading time: 40 minutes.

⇢ Kindle

27. Safety Tips for Living Alone – Jim Shepard

Best short books - Safety Tips for Living Alone - Jim Shepard

In Safety Tips for Living Alone, Jim Shepard tells the story of four families whose lives are upended when the men go to work on a dangerous and isolated surveillance platform off the coast of Long Island.

When a powerful storm approaches the platform, the four men, their families, and everyone on board, must face their increasingly probable deaths.

This short story is a part of Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading series, and was published on Amazon as a Kindle Single.

Number of pages: 27. Estimated reading time: 23 minutes.

⇢ Kindle

28. Larger Than Life – Jodi Picoult

Best short books - Larger Than Life - Jodi Picoult

A 2014 gripping and brilliantly written novella from Jodi Picoult, set in the wilds of Africa.

The book introduces Alice, the character at the center of Picoult’s  novel, Leaving Time.

Alice is able to view the animals in their natural habitat—while following an important rule: She must only observe and never interfere.

Number of pages: 78. Estimated reading time: 65 minutes.

⇢ Kindle

29. A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings – Gabriel García Márquez

Best short books - A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

This story story by Gabriel García Márquez will satisfy the lovers of magic realism.

First published in 1955, this is story of a couple who find in their courtyard an old man, in poor health and with huge wings.

When the couple attempts to communicate with the man, his incomprehensible language makes them believe he is a castaway.

Number of pages: 32. Estimated reading time: 27 minutes.

⇢ Print

30. Dubliners – James Joyce

Best short books - Dubliners - James Joyce

A collection of short stories by James Joyce, about the life of Irish middle class at the beginning of the 20th century.

The stories share a common narrative element, epiphany, where characters experience a life-changing illumination or a moment of truth.

There are fifteen stories in the collection, ordered chronologically. We begin with stories of youth in “The Sisters”. Next stories deal with the lives of progressively older people to culminate in “The Dead”.

Number of pages: 130. Estimated reading time: 108 minutes.

⇢ Project Gutenberg

31. Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection – Arthur Conan Doyle

Best short books - Sherlock Holmes- The Ultimate Collection - Arthur Conan Doyle

This collection of works of the master of crime fiction, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, includes 60 pieces featuring the iconic detective Sherlock Holmes.

Besides four complete novels (A Study in ScarletThe Sign of the FourThe Hound of the Baskervilles, and The Valley of Fear), you’ll find here fifty-six short stories, as well as an extra material (reading guide, audio tracks, and more).

Number of pages: 204. Estimated reading time: 170 minutes.

⇢ Kindle

32. The Tent – Margaret Atwood

Best short books - The Tent - Margaret Atwood

A sparkling, witty collection of short stories and poems from an acclaimed Canadian author Margaret Atwood.

She gives a sly pep talk to the ambitious young; writes about the disconcerting experience of looking at old photos of ourselves; and examines the boons and banes of orphanhood.

The book is characterized as an experimental collection of fictional essays or mini-fictions, and includes author’s own playful drawings.

Number of pages: 178. Estimated reading time: 148 minutes.

⇢ Kindle

33. After the Quake – Haruki Murakami

Best short books - After the Quake - Haruki Murakami

A collection of six short stories by an acknowledged Japanese author Haruki Murakami.

The stories were written between 1999 and 2000 as a response to 1995 Kobe earthquake. Each story shows characters affected in a different way by the earthquake.

The book represents part of Murakami’s effort to adopt a more purposeful exploration of the Japanese national conscience.

Number of pages: 162. Estimated reading time: 135 minutes.

⇢ Kindle

Novels and novellas

34. Animal Farm – George Orwell

Best short books - Animal Farm - George Orwell

In this classic dystopian novel from 1945, George Orwell paints an allegory of the Russian Revolution leading to the communism in the Soviet Union.

This most profound satire of the Stalinism describes the world where “all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”

In an introduction to the first edition, George Orwell wrote:

It is the history of a revolution that went wrong-and of the excellent excuses that were forthcoming at every step for the perversion of the original doctrine.

Orwell finished the book in 1944, but it was rejected by several publishers. Both Great Britain and USA were in an alliance with the Soviet Union, and didn’t want to provoke Stalin.

Number of pages: 154. Estimated reading time: 130 minutes.

⇢ Kindle

35. The Fifth Child – Doris Lessing

Best short books - The Fifth Child - Doris Lessing

This is a classic tale from Doris Lessing, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Published in 1988, the book describes the changes in the happy life of Harriet and David Lovatt, as a result of the birth of their fifth child, Ben.

Ben is a highly dysfunctional child, large, ugly, and uncontrollable. His birth marks the beginning of the misery and suffering for the entire family.

Number of pages: 146. Estimated reading time: 122 minutes.

⇢ Kindle

36. Sula – Toni Morrison

Best short books - Sula - Toni Morrison

Sula, a short novel by Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, is a gripping story of two friends, Sula and Nel.

Separated in young adulthood, they reunite as grown women. But their friendship ends in an unforgivable betrayal.

Regardless of the physical and emotional distance that threatens this extraordinary friendship, the bond between the women remains unbreakable.

Number of pages: 194. Estimated reading time: 162 minutes.

⇢ Kindle

37. Lady Susan – Jane Austen

Best short books - Lady Susan - Jane Austen

Lady Susan is a short novel by Jane Austen which has an exceptional form. It’s written as a series of letters to and from the main character, the widowed Susan Vernon, who seeks husbands for herself and her daughter.

Lady Susan is highly attractive to men. She is also very selfish and unscrupulous in her efforts to trap the best possible husband, while maintaining a relationship with a married man.

Number of pages: 64. Estimated reading time: 53 minutes.

⇢ Kindle

38. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

Best short books - A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

One of the most beloved stories in the English literature. The novella shows how a bitter Ebenezer Scrooge transforms into a gentler man, as a result of series of encounters with ghostly visitors.

A Christmas Carol greatly influenced the reviving the old Christmas traditions in England. It also associated Christmas time with images of light, joy, magic, and warmth.

Charles Dickens wrote in the preface of the first edition, published in December 1843:

I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me.

Number of pages: 68. Estimated reading time: 57 minutes.

⇢ Project Gutenberg

39. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson

Best short books - The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson

An intriguing combination of fantasy thriller and moral allegory. One of the most famous books by Robert Louis Stevenson describes the struggle of two opposing personalities. One is essentially good, the other is evil.

The novella refers to a mental condition called “split personality”, where more than one distinct identity exists within the same body.

A sensitive and suspenseful analysis of man’s dual nature revealed Stevenson as a writer of great skill and originality. First published in 1886, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde became an instant success.

Number of pages: 64. Estimated reading time: 53 minutes.

⇢ Kindle

40. Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

Best short books - Frankenstein - Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is a masterpiece worth rereading at any age.

A young and arrogant scientist, Victor Frankenstein, in a crazy scientific experiment creates a human out of dead flesh.

The monster became one of the most famous creatures of horror the literature have ever brought to life.

Number of pages: 166. Estimated reading time: 138 minutes.

⇢ Print

41. The Old Man and The Sea – Ernest Hemingway

Best short books - The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway

One of the most famous works by Ernest Hemingway, the book tells the story of a battle between an experienced Cuban fisherman, Santiago, and a giant fish.

After 84 days without catching a fish, the old fisherman sails far into the Gulf Stream. His bait is taken by a big marlin. After a three-day struggle, Santiago kills the fish with a harpoon. On the way back, marlin’s blood attracts the sharks.

Released in 1952, The Old Man and The Sea is Hemingway’s last major work of fiction published during his lifetime. The book played a major part in his winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954.

Number of pages: 128. Estimated reading time: 107 minutes.

⇢ Print

42. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

Best short books - Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

One of the most influential works of an Anglo-Polish novelist Joseph Conrad. We follow steamboat commander Charlie Marlow on a trip up the unnamed African river to meet ivory trader named Kurtz.

Kurtz has turned himself into a demigod of all the tribes surrounding his station, and gathered vast quantities of ivory.

Heart of Darkness reflects the physical and psychological shock Conrad experienced himself, when he worked in Belgian-controlled Congo. The book raises important questions about colonialism and racism.

Number of pages: 116. Estimated reading time: 97 minutes.

⇢ Kindle

43. The Awakening – Kate Chopin

Best short books - The Awakening - Kate Chopin

The Awakening was Kate Chopin’s second and final novel, published in 1899. It was one of the first novels that focused on women, marking the birth of feminism in America.

We follow Edna Pontellier, an obedient wife and mother, who becomes close to a charming young man Robert Lebrun. It’s the time when she begins to struggle for her independence and self-fulfillment.

At the time of first publication the book met with mixed reactions, mainly due to presenting attitudes that were against established gender roles. It was also considered immoral for descriptions of female sexual desires.

Number of pages: 172. Estimated reading time: 143 minutes.

⇢ Project Gutenberg

44. Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe

Best short books - Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe

A 1958 book by a Nigerian author Chinua Achebe, widely perceived as the archetypal modern African novel, reshaping both the African and world literature.

We follow Okonkwo, a warrior and village leader, famous throughout West Africa. When he accidentally kills a clansman, things begin to fall apart…

Number of pages: 176. Estimated reading time: 147 minutes.

⇢ Kindle

45. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

Best short books - Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck

Based on John Steinbeck’s own experience, this is a touching story of the complex bond between two migrant ranch workers during the Great Depression.

Lennie Small is large and strong, but has limited mental abilities. George Milton, intelligent but uneducated, acts as Lennie’s father.

Lennie and George have a dream: to own a small farm one day. When they get a job in the Salinas Valley, the dream seems to be within their grasp. But Lennie’s love of petting soft things, such as small animals or people’s hair, leads to disaster.

Number of pages: 105. Estimated reading time: 87 minutes.

⇢ Print

46. Bonjour Tristesse – Françoise Sagan

Best short books - Bonjour Tristesse - Francoise Sagan

Written by an 18-year-old Françoise Sagan, this short novel became an overnight bestseller, after it was published in 1954.

A young Cécile joins her father for a summer holiday in a beautiful countryside near Paris.

Cécile cherishes the free-spirited moments she and her father share, while plotting her own sexual adventures with a “tall and almost beautiful” law student.

Bonjour Tristesse (Hello Sadness) is a beautifully composed story of a teenager’s attempts to understand and control the world around her.

Number of pages: 160. Estimated reading time: 133 minutes.

⇢ Print

47. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood – Marjane Satrapi

Best short books - Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi

A wise, funny, and heartbreaking autobiographical graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi describing her childhood in Iran during and after the Islamic revolution.

Marjane’s child’s-eye view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family.

Number of pages: 160. Estimated reading time: 133 minutes.

⇢ Print

48. Black Water – Joyce Carol Oates

Best short books - Black Water - Joyce Carol Oates

A 1992 novella by Joyce Carol Oates, powerfully imagined, with many references to politics and pop culture.

Kelly Kelleher, an idealistic, 26-year-old girl meets the Senator at a 4th of July party.

In a brilliantly woven narrative, we enter her past and her present, her mind and her body as she is fatally attracted to this older man, this hero, this soon-to-be-lover.

Number of pages: 160. Estimated reading time: 133 minutes.

⇢ Print

49. An Event in Autumn – Henning Mankell

Best short books - An Event in Autumn - Henning Mankell

Something for the lovers of the Swedish detective, Kurt Wallander – An Event in Autumn is a novella, published for the first time in 2014.

Wallander’s offer on a new house was accepted, but he uncovered something unexpected in the garden – the skeleton of a middle-aged woman.

As police officers comb the property, Wallander attempts to get his new life back on course by finding the woman’s killer with the aid of his daughter, Linda.

Number of pages: 178. Estimated reading time: 148 minutes.

⇢ Kindle

50. The Stranger – Albert Camus

Best short books - The Stranger - Albert Camus

The Stranger is a short novel from a master of absurd and existentialism, Albert Camus.

We follow Meursault, an ordinary man, who after attending his mother’s funeral, is unwittingly drawn into a senseless murder on an Arab man.

Albert Camus said about the novel:

In our society any man who does not weep at his mother’s funeral runs the risk of being sentenced to death.

Number of pages: 146. Estimated reading time: 122 minutes.

⇢ Kindle

Best short books – infographic

Best short books for busy people - infographic

Feel free to share this infographic on your site (Creative Commons license).

Book cover images via Amazon, Wikipedia, Project Gutenberg, Internet Archive.

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