100 Must-Read Novellas

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Teresa Preston

Staff Writer

Since 2008, Teresa Preston has been blogging about all the books she reads at Shelf Love. She supports her book habit by working as a magazine editor at a professional association in the Washington, DC, area, which is (in)conveniently located just a few steps from a used bookstore. When she’s not reading or editing, she’s likely to be attending theatre, practicing yoga, watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer again, or doting on her toothless orange cat, Anya. Twitter: @teresareads

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December is a busy month for a lot of people, and it can be hard to find time to read, much less to finish an entire book. And readers who set ambitious reading goals for the year may find that goal slipping away. The solution may just be a novella! These short books offer a complete story, but you can polish one off in an afternoon.

So, here I offer a list of novellas worth checking out. Drawing the line between a short story, novella, and novel can be tricky, so for the purposes of this list, I’ve defined a novella as between 50 and 200 pages. Most of these are around 100 to 150 pages. I’ve included selections from a variety of genres, so most readers should be able to find something they like.

Check out the list below, and share in the comments any that you especially love or want to read, along with any favorites that I missed. Enjoy, and happy reading!


A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

After Midnight by Irmgard Keun

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Another Marvelous Thing by Laurie Colwin

As We Are Now by May Sarton

Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville

Beside the Sea by Véronique Olmi

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan

Botchan by Natsume Sōseki

Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

Carmen by Prosper Mérimée

Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel García Márquez

Cousin Phillis by Elizabeth Gaskell

Death Going Down by Maria Angelica Bosco

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

Doctor Glas by Hjalmar Söderberg

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

Every Day Is for the Thief by Teju Cole

Every Eye by Isobel English

Ghost Girl in the Corner by Daniel José Older

Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin

Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov

Henrietta’s War by Joyce Dennys

Hetty Dorval by Ethel Wilson


Hill by Jean Giono

His Road Home by Anna Richland

Home by Toni Morrison

Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto

Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk by Nikolai Leskov

Lady Susan by Jane Austen

Let it Shine by Alyssa Cole

Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link

McGlue by Ottessa Mosfegh

Miss Lonelyhearts by Nathanael West

My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids by Kenzaburo Oe

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

our souls at night

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexandr Solzhenitsyn

One Night with Her Bachelor by Kat Latham

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

Parnassas on Wheels by Christopher Morley

Passing by Nella Larsen

Prodigies by Angélica Gorodischer

Ragnarok by A.S. Byatt

Red Lights by Georges Simenon

Romancing the Inventor by Gail Carringer

Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Saleh

Shopgirl by Steve Martin

So You Don’t Get Lost in the Neighborhood by Patrick Modiano

Story of Your Life (in Stories of Your Life and Others) by Ted Chiang

The Artist of Disappearance by Anita Desai

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle

The Black Spider by Jeremias Gotthelf

The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder

The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy

The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing

The Final Solution by Michael Chabon


The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

The Home and the World by Rabindranath Tagore

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

The Invisibility Cloak by Ge Fei

The Langoliers (in Four Past Midnight) by Stephen King

The Lifted Veil by George Eliot

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The Lover by Marguerite Duras

The Man Who Was Thursday by GK. Chesterton

The Many by Wyl Menmuir

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

The Murderess by Alexandris Papadiamantis

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark

The Royal Game (aka Chess Story) by Stefan Zweig

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami

The Stranger by Albert Camus

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

The True Deceiver by Tove Jannson

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

The Vegetarian by Han Kang

The Vet’s Daughter by Barbara Comyns


The Victorian Chaise Longue by Marghanita Laski

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Three Blind Mice by Agatha Christie

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El Saadawi

Zastrozzi by Percy Bysshe Shelley