Medium-sized books are usually at the top of my preferences. I love to fully immerse myself in the characters’ world and find that easier when a story lasts longer than just a couple of hundred pages. Nevertheless, shorter books can also be utterly compelling and stimulating. I consider a book to be short when it has fewer than 250 pages.
If you are looking for some quick reads (albeit not necessarily easy ones), you may want to try some of my favourites. I decided not to include short story and poetry collections in the list below, seeing that they overwhelmingly fall into the less than 250 pages category.
The Dumb House is short but not sweet. It is a twisted story revolving around Luke, who has performed a cruel experiment on his own children. We know this from the outset, and the following pages are an account of how he got to that point and why. While reading, I was in awe of the writing style.
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
I’m not sure if all the editions of The Picture of Dorian Gray are less than 250 pages long, but mine is, so I’m including it on my list. Afraid of losing his beauty, Dorian Gray sells his soul to ensure that his picture ages and decays in his place. His subsequent libertine lifestyle leads to tragic events. This book could have been perfect, if it wasn’t for a chapter solely focused on Dorian’s study of perfumes, music and jewels.
As Intermitências da Morte (Death at Intervals) by José Saramago
Death at Intervals is a good place to start delving into José Saramago’s work. Since it’s one of his shortest books, it is perfect for getting familiar with his specific writing style. It takes place in an unnamed country where people have stopped dying. The negative consequences that arise lead ‘Death’ to eventually return to work, although taking a different approach.
Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was is heart-warming and heart-breaking in equal measure. Through a remarkable writing style, we are introduced to Máni, a motherless 16-year-old boy who lives in Reykjavik with his great-grandmother’s sister. He loves watching films, and his sexual identity plays an important part in the development of the plot.
Vinte e Zinco by Mia Couto
The main character in this book is Lourenço, an inspector of the Political Police (PIDE) in the then Portuguese colony of Mozambique. He is renowned for his cruelty, but his aunt is not afraid to express feminist views. Vinte e Zinco takes place during the last days of the dictatorship before the Carnation Revolution in 1974 and shows us that brutal actions eventually have consequences.
What are your favourite short books? Tell me in the comments!