If the term "classic novel" brings to mind lengthy works like
War & Peace and Moby-Dick, you might be pleased to discover that there are plenty of short classics you can read in a weekend. I've picked out 15 crisp, snappy novels, and short-fiction collections for you to enjoy below, so pick one up for your next weekend reading sesh.
Before the recent outpouring of
super-long novels like Hanya Yanagihara's A Little Life and Marlon James' A Brief History of Seven Killings, short novels were actually in good and common taste. Most of your favorite 20th-century novelists made a habit of writing novels on the shorter side of average — around 250 to 300 pages. These include Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad and Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club, among many, many more.
The books on this list are even shorter than those, however. Every single book on this list clocks in under 250 pages, and each of them is more than 50 years old. Even if you have read all of them before, now is as good a time as any to revisit your favorites.
Check out the 15 short classics I've picked out for you below:
'Passing' by Nella Larsen Page count: 160 Year: 1929
This Harlem Renaissance novel centers on Clare and Irene, two black women who "pass" for white, one of whom is married to a racist white man.
Click here to buy. 'The Awakening' by Kate Chopin Page count: 128 Year: 1899
Edna Pontellier doesn't want to be a wife and mother anymore, so she moves out of her husband's home and goes to live on her own, taking a series of lovers as she does.
Click here to buy. 'Things Fall Apart' by Chinua Achebe Page count: 215 Year: 1958
A respected man in a Nigerian Igbo clan sees his attempts to maintain his masculine image backfire as his land becomes colonized by white Europeans in this novel, the first in a trilogy from Man Booker International Prize-winner Chinua Achebe.
Click here to buy. 'Their Eyes Were Watching God' by Zora Neale Hurston Page count: 219 Year: 1937
Returning home after years spent away, Janie Crawford recounts her adventures to a friend, including the tale of how she came to be tried for murder in the death of her late husband.
Click here to buy. 'Wide Sargasso Sea' by Jean Rhys Page count: 171 Year: 1966
This prequel to
Jane Eyre centers on Antoinette Cosway, a young Jamaican woman who marries Edward Rochester and accompanies him to England — where he changes her name to Bertha and locks her in his attic. Click here to buy. 'Night' by Elie Wiesel Page count: 144 Year: 1958
A brief and fearsome glimpse into the horrors of the Holocaust, Elie Wiesel's
Night recounts the story of his imprisonment in Auschwitz. Click here to buy. 'We Have Always Lived in the Castle' by Shirley Jackson Page count: 146 Year: 1962
Years ago, the Blackwood family died at dinner. Eldest daughter Constance was tried for their murder, but found not guilty. Now, she lives with her younger sister, Merricat, and their disabled Uncle Julian in the big, empty house that once belonged to her parents.
Click here to buy. 'American Indian Stories and Old Indian Legends' by Zitkala-Ša Page count: 160 Year: 1921
Including stories from her childhood on the Yankton Indian Reservation and observations on the life of Native Americans in the U.S., Sioux writer Zitkala-Ša's
American Indian Stories and Old Indian Legends is a must-read work by a respected Native activist. Click here to buy. 'Cane' by Jean Toomer Page count: 224 Year: 1923
A series of portraits depicting the lives of African Americans in the early 20th century, Jean Toomer's
Cane is a contribution to the literary canon of the Harlem Renaissance that went largely — and unfortunately — overlooked when it was published. Click here to buy. 'A Raisin in the Sun' by Lorraine Hansberry Page count: 151 Year: 1959
The story of a family living in an apartment on the south side of Chicago,
A Raisin in the Sun centers on their upcoming move to a white neighborhood, which may be prevented by a white agent. Click here to buy. 'Northanger Abbey' by Jane Austen Page count: 220 Year: 1818
Obsessed with Gothic literature, Catherine Morland suspects the worst when she visits the titular Northanger Abbey and discovers that its master, General Tilney, is a widower.
Click here to buy. 'Where There's Love, There's Hate' by Adolfo Bioy Casares and Silvina Ocampo Page count: 112 Year: 1946
Written by husband-and-wife duo Adolfo Bioy Casares and Silvina Ocampo,
Where There's Love, There's Hate centers on Dr. Huberman, an amateur detective, who investigates a murder at his vacation hotel. Click here to buy. 'Mrs Dalloway' by Virginia Woolf Page count: 176 Year: 1921
In this brief novel by
To the Lighthouse author Virginia Woolf, the eponymous heroine reflects on her life, particularly her choice of a life partner, in the hours leading up to a grand event. Click here to buy. 'O Pioneers!' by Willa Cather Page count: 176 Year: 1913
When she inherits her father's Nebraska farm, Alexandra throws herself into the work required to make it a success, even as her neighbors have begun to give up the enterprise.
Click here to buy. 'Rashōmon and Other Stories' by Ryonosuke Akutagawa Page count: 96 Year: 1927
The title story of this collection centers on an impoverished servant who, when he is close to giving up on life, meets an old woman who steals hair and clothing from the dead in order to survive.
Click here to buy.