In an age when 2-minute YouTube videos seem lengthy and conversations are capped at 140 characters a piece, it’s pretty clear our attention spans are waning. While we’re all for sitting down with a classic Russian tome, we understand that sometimes short is sweet. For a great book you could crush in a few hours, we recommend one from this list. Each has at least a 3.75-star average on Amazon and is less than 100 pages long.

1. Bartleby, the Scrivener (Herman Melville)

Moby Dick is one of the greatest novels ever written, and if it left you wanting more from Melville, here’s a little book to satisfy your desires. The story revolves around a man functioning as a cog in the corporate machine who one day just tells his boss he would prefer not to do work. Perhaps a critique on American corporate culture, the simple read makes a big impact. (Link)


2. The Metamorphosis (Franz Kafka)

Originally published in 1915, The Metamorphosis is not only one of the best books under 100 pages, it’s one of the best books. In Kafka-esque fashion, The Metamorphosis is weird, but it’s also strangely simplistic. After the main character awakens to find he has transformed into an insect, the story proceeds as he adapts to his new form without delving into why this has happened. For a little taste of Kafka, it’s a solid choice. (Link)


3. I Remain in Darkness (Annie Ernaux)

The French writer has been churning out sparse but powerful books for the last 30+ years. The one that might gut-punch you the hardest is I Remain in Darkness. The story/memoir/journal details the narrator’s loss of her mother and tackles how we struggle with accepting something we can’t accept. It’s tiny and haunting. (Link)


4. The Turn of the Screw (Henry James)

The Turn of the Screw is proof you don’t need detailed gore and hundreds of pages of suspense to build a great ghost story. Sometimes the scariest things are the ones barely explained. (Link)




5. Utopia (Thomas More)

Since its publication in 1516, Sir Thomas More’s Utopia has been fuel for an entire genre of entertainment: the quest for the perfect society. As with any great frame narrative, Book 1 sets the stage, and Book 2 knocks it out of the park. Satirical, smart, and impactful for a novella. (Link)


6. Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions (Edwin A. Abbott)

One way to make a short story or novella really stand out is to make it so utterly original that it makes you take notice. Flatland is a social satire that uses two-dimensional shapes as characters divided into different classes. When one of the flat shapes discovers Spaceland—a place where another dimension gives shapes new forms—it becomes a challenge to convince others of what he has seen. Wildly original, yet oddly understandable. (Link)


7. If You’re Not Yet Like Me (Edan Lepucki)

Relationship novels by female authors too often get generalized as “chick lit.” And while some may be deserving of this lightweight description, If You’re Not Yet Like Me isn’t one of them. You’re not going to like the way this story ends, and the author tells you that right up front. (Link)


8. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Robert Louis Stevenson)

It’s perhaps the oldest storyline there is: Good vs Evil. And it’s one that has filled books 10 times the size of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. When one man is both angel and demon, right and wrong, what happens? This story is a 60-page meditation on good self/bad self. (Link)


9. The Prince (Niccolò Machiavelli)

Is it better to be loved or feared? Not just friendly debate fodder, it’s one of many ideas presented in Machiavelli’s minute masterpiece. One part handbook and one part critique on power and leadership. (Link)



10. The Most Dangerous Game (Richard Connell)

In less than 50 pages, The Most Dangerous Game really kicks your brain into gear. The short story is about the hunter versus the hunted, and where instincts and morality come into play. As is often the case with great short stories, The Most Dangerous Game takes a big idea and packs it into an easily digestible package.. (Link)


11. The Art of War (Sun Tzu)

One of the most important books ever written about war. The Art of War still serves as an influential spark for strategists and leaders alike. While you won’t learn everything there is to know about battle strategy in 60 pages, you will be presented with some interesting basics and perhaps a new way of strategic thinking. (Link)


12. The Call of the Wild (Jack London)

Sometimes a book can be wrongly labeled as a children’s book. Not because it doesn’t actually appeal to kids, but because it really would appeal to everyone. (See: Giving Tree, The.) An example that is even better is The Call of the Wild by Jack London. Often considered a book for kids, The Call of the Wild is far from an adventure story only youngsters would enjoy. (Link)


13. Death in Venice  (Thomas Mann)

If we had to pick one book on this list that best showcases the power of the novella, it would be Death in Venice. It’s about the inner anguish of lust, the lengths to which the body wishes to go for something it wants, and it’s all packed in a tiny, tiny paperback. (Link)


14. A Modest Proposal (Jonathan Swift)

Great satire is brief and biting. Jonathan Swift may have penned the perfect example with A Modest Proposal. Reading it, you almost get the sense that Swift grew so tired with politicians and the people’s refusal to rise up, that he tossed his papers in the air and wrote the most ridiculous thing he could come up with to make a point. That ridiculous thing is A Modest Proposal. (Link)