Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get all the reading done that we’d like. I’ve long since accepted the fact that I’ll never be able to read all the books I want to read in my lifetime, because my TBR is constantly increasing and there are only so many books I can conceivably read in a year. But there is one way to get in more books, whether you’re just looking for shorter reads you can finish in a day or want to up the number of books you read in a year. The answer? These titles: some of the best books out there under 200 pages.
And these books aren’t some consolation prize you have to resort to in a pinch, either; they’re excellent stories in their own right. Even though each of these books clocks in at under 200 pages, the stories they tell are still complex and riveting. Some of them continue on into duologies or series to depict a longer narrative, while others are complete as a standalone. From SFF stories under 100 pages you can read in one sitting to 150 page novellas with rich narratives, these 20 of the best books under 200 pages are the perfect novels to read in a day.
Best Books Under 100 Pages
The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo by Zen Cho
A writer in 1920s London meets the famous author she recently eviscerated in a review, only to discover he has an interest in her. For Jade, the affair is the perfect opportunity for her to rebel against the societal norms she’s followed thus far. But Sebastian Hardie isn’t the man she loves. It might take an affair with the wrong man to discover that, though.
Trafik by Rikki Ducornet
A mostly human astronaut harvests minerals from asteroids using a virtual reality game alongside her excitable robot companion, Mic. But when an accident destroys their cargo, the two begin a madcap journey toward a new destination: the planet Trafik.
Finna by Nino Cipri
When a wormhole opens up in an IKEA-like big box furniture store, the two newest employees learn it’s their job to jump through the portal before it closes and track down the customer who fell through before it’s too late. To make matters even worse, those two most recent employees are happen to be exes. And they broke up less than a week ago. It’s a rip-roaring multiverse adventure with a capitalist twist.
The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander
You’ve heard about the Radium Girls, who were poisoned by painting radium onto watch dials, and you might know about the elephant electrocuted around the same time in Coney Island. In The Only Harmless Great Thing, these true facts are reimagined and entwined as sentient elephants are forced to work in radium factories and later asked to alter their DNA to glow around radiation as a warning sign to humans to avoid nuclear waste. It’s a fascinating indictment of corporate greed and the evils of dehumanizing others.
The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami, Translated by Ted Goossen
A boy becomes trapped in a secret dungeon under the library in this surreal Murakami story. There’s a sinister library underneath the library, and when a lonely boy becomes trapped in its depths alongside a mysterious girl and a sheep man, he must figure out some way to plot their escape.
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
Binti is the first of the Himba people to be offered a place at the prestigious Oomza University. In fact, she’s the first of her people to ever travel off world. She must journey through the stars among strangers who don’t understand or respect her culture in order to continue her education. But when the spaceship shepherding the students to the university is attacked, Binti finds herself in the middle of an alien war.
Best Books Between 100-150 Pages
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
This novella told in a series of vignettes follows a young Latina girl named Esperanza Cordero growing up in Chicago. Her journey to finding herself is at times joyous and others heartbreaking as she decides who and what she will become.
Prosper’s Demon by K.J. Parker
An exorcist with dubious morals but undeniable results looks to exorcise the world’s first philosopher-king who just so happens to be demonically possessed. It’s a story full of demonic possessions, double and triple crossings, and the fine line between good and evil.
River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey
In an alternate version of the United States, where a proposal to introduce hippos to the bayous of Louisiana was approved by Congress, a ragtag band of outlaws attempt to corral feral hippos and seek their revenge. River of Teeth is the hippo western of my dreams, and I can never get enough of it.
All Systems Red by Martha Wells
Murderbot is no ordinary SecUnit. Most SecUnits have protocols that control them and keep them from going rougue; Murderbot hacked theirs. Most SecUnits want only to obtain their objectives; Murderbot mostly just wants to watch media all day. But when the newest humans Murderbot has been tasked with protecting find themselves in the middle of a murderous corporate conspiracy and almost entirely unable to keep themselves out of danger, it’s up to Murderbot to save them. The Murderbot novellas may be short, but they pack a serious punch. They’re not one of my favorite sci-fi series for nothing, let me tell you.
In the Vanisher’s Palace by Aliette de Bodard
In the Vietnamese reimagining of Beauty and the Beast, a failed scholar is sold to one of the last dragons found on Earth. The dragon needs a scholar to tutor her children, and soon the scholar begins to see a softer side to the dangerous dragon who has become her captor.
The Annual Migration of Clouds by Premee Mohamed
In an Alberta decimated by climate disaster, a woman infected by a mysterious, mind-altering fungi must decide whether to escape her current life to pursue a rare opportunity or stay with her mother and the community that relies on her. A dangerous mission might give her the means to set her family up for life, but how can she ask others to trust her when she can’t even trust her own mind?
Best Books Between 151-200 Pages
To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers
What if, instead of terraforming planets to fit our needs, we modified ourselves? For the crew of extrasolar research vessel, that’s exactly how they manage to explore new planets. The crew lives a life of constant change, sleeping between planets and waking up with entirely new bodies and a world back home that may no longer even care about their mission. It’s a beautiful story told with the signature thoughtfulness and charm Becky Chambers is known for.
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, Translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori
Thirty-six-year-old Keiko Furukura is perfectly happy working at the Smile Mart, where she’s been employed ever since she was a teenager, thank you very much. It’s only her friends, family, and coworkers who seem to think there’s something strange about it. But Keiko finds purpose in what she does, and in this quirky character study of a novella, she’ll eventually discover that that’s what matters most in life.
The Deep by Rivers Solomon
A seafaring society descended from the pregnant women thrown overboard during the Transatlantic Slave Trade have found means of thriving underwater, but it comes at a cost. One among them must retain all the memories of the past, the trauma too much to be held by everyone at all times. Yetu is the historian. She remembers so others don’t have to. But the weight of the past is slowly destroying her. It will take a journey to the world above the waves to discover the truth about her past and formulate a way forward.
Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi
A sister and brother with extraordinary powers must stay under the radar to protect themselves from the brutality of systemic racism in America. But when Kev is arrested for the crime of being a young Black man, his sister Ella tries to show him through means both natural and supernatural that it is time to fight back.
Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark
A racist film in the 1910s casts a spell across America and raises monsters known as Ku Kluxes, joining the ranks of the KKK and spreading terror across the nation. It’s up to resistance fighters like Maryse Boudreaux to send those monster straight back to where they came from: Hell. But something awful is brewing in Macon, Georgia, and the war on Hell is about to get a whole lot hotter.
Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami, Translated by Allison Markin Powell
After running into an old high school teacher in a sake bar and unable to remember his name, Tsukiko falls back into the habit of calling him sensei. They continue to meet up over edamame beans, cold beer, and a trip to the mountains where they eat wild mushrooms. As they friendship deepens, Tsukiko realizes the solace she feels around sensei may be something more.
What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher
Tokyo Ueno Station by Miri Yū, Translated by Morgan Giles
Kazu’s life and afterlife have been tied through a series of coincidences to Japan’s Imperial family and to a park near Ueno Station, which his spirit now haunts. It’s here that Kazu worked as a laborer in the lead up to the 1964 Olympic Games and later where he ended his last in one of the parks vast homeless villages, his life upended by the 2011 tsunami and enraged over the announcement of the 2020 Olympics.
And that’s not all the short fiction we have to recommend. Check out these other short novels and novellas as well: