Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Requesting Recommendations: Short Books

As much as I love an epic chunkster that can pull me in for the long haul, I admire short books that pack a wallop. As far as the craft of writing goes, there's something incredibly admirable about a short novel or novella that can knock you on your proverbial ass even in its brevity.

Some of my favorite short books:


Beasts by Joyce Carol Oates  has 138 pages, We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson is the chunkiest at 213, and The Suicide Shop by Jean Teule weighs in at 169. And they are all amazing and clever and atmospheric and I would put them up against any longer novel.

So tell me, what are your favorite short books? What should I add to my wishlist?




50 comments:

  1. Have you read The Ocean At the End of the Lane? It's 181 pages (Hardcover).

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    1. I have! That one was truly excellent. I read it in nearly one day. If I hadn't had to go to work the next day it would've been ALL in one day. :)

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  2. I do not read a lot of shorts but can totally recommend Neil Gaiman's Coraline.

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    1. I loved that one, too! I used to to not read a lot of short books, but I've found that keeping a smallish stack of them in the house is a nice way to get out of reading slumps when they hit or to keep my reading mojo going when I don't know what I'm in the mood to read.

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  3. Oates has written many good novellas, but one I particularly like is 'I Lock My Door Upon Myself'
    Justin Torres wrote a really beautiful short novel called 'We the Animals' which is only 144 pages.
    I think a great classic and the most perfect novel ever written is Virgina Woolf's short poetic book The Waves.

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    1. Thanks, Eric! We can always depend on Oates. And I will definitely check out Justin Torres. As for Woolf, I loved "A Room of One's Own" and Mrs. Dalloway, so I certainly do need to give The Waves a try.

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  4. The first thing that popped into my head was The Last Girlfriend on Earth but I'm pretty sure you've read that one already. I wonder if Simon Rich has written anything else?

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    1. OMGosh, yes, I loved it so much. I just looked him up on Goodreads, and I have to read two of his other books: Ant Farm and Other Desperate Situations and Free-Range Chickens. :D

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  5. Simon Fruelund's Milk -- just over 100 pages: http://www.amazon.com/Milk-Other-Stories-Simon-Fruelund/dp/0988225271/

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  6. Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O'Nan… just 146 pages, but wow.

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    1. Oooh, I'm intrigued! I've seen this one around but it hasn't made it squarely into my mental spotlight. But now it has!

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  7. I adore short books. You should read The Bridge by Rebecca Rogers Maher! It's about 100 pages. If you're in the mood for an excellent mystery, The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey is about 140 pages.

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    1. Oooh! Thank you! I haven't seen these recs before, but I'm all over them, Tasha!

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  8. I will have to see what recommendations you get. :)

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    1. So far so good, Kelly! They keep rolling in.

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  9. Snow Hunters by Paul Yoon (208 pages). Sooooo good. Kind of a quiet one. Loved it. And ummm... anything over at CCLaP!

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    1. Awesome, Monika! And I'm going to have to go back and look to see what you've snagged from CCLaP!

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    2. Mark Brand's stuff is great if you like a bit of sci-fi. :)

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  10. Anthem and Animal Farm come to mind.

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    1. I always forget that Anthem is short. When I think of Rand I automatically picture The Fountainhead. *shudder*

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  11. Want to know a short book taking me forever to read? The Frozen Deep. I fall asleep every time I pick it up. 99 pages and I'm struggling. I think I'd love to see this as a play but sheesh it is cheesy.

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    1. Uh oh! That doesn't sound good. Maybe I'll tackle it next and get it over with! lol

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  12. FYI- weirdest and best novella ever read: Disquiet by Julia Leigh. It was "disquieting" in a Shirley Jackson / Flannery O'Connor kinda way. Of course I loved it being the weird individual I am.

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    1. I loooove disquieting novellas! I'm sold!

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  13. I think I gave enough suggestions via Twitter :D

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    1. Hahah! And thank you for those!

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  14. Have you heard of The Book of Qualities? 100 pages. :) http://www.amazon.com/The-Book-Qualities-Ruth-Gendler/dp/0060962526

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    1. I haven't, but I'll check it out!

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  15. Brain failure. I've been trying to think of some all day. I'm watching the recs with interest!

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  16. LOL I love great shorter reads too and pretty much stocking the comments to see what people suggest :)

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  17. I love shorter reads, too, but my first thought goes to short stories. I tend to pick up a collection to meander through when I need quicker but still good reading; those and comics; so I am taking notes from others' comments, too. Camus' The Stranger and Kate Chopin The Awakening do both come to mind for short novels as well as Steve Martin's Shopgirl.

    ~L

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  18. I just read Sherman Alexie's short novel Flight recently. It was a book you could read in one sitting, and I loved it.

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  19. Two I really loved - Evenings at Five by Gail Godwin and A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas. And two short Christmas books I also loved - The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog by Dave Barry and What Child is This by Caroline B. Cooney.

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  20. Rape: A Love Story by Oates as well. Short but powerful.

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  21. Just read A Christmas Carol for the first time and loved it. I missed so much of the language and even some meaning only watching it all these yeas! Depending on edition it's anywhere from 88-130 pages long.

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  22. Oh. There are always graphic novels. Like, BONE, for instance. :P

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  23. Can I recommend a kids' book? MM Kaye's The Ordinary Princess? It may not count because kids' books are often short but it's so good and nobody reads it and I want everybody to read it.

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  24. I would recommend any of the short novels by Stephan Zweig. His stories are delightful, seriously, you have to give them a try if you still haven't read him yet.

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  25. Don't know what happened- I replied two days ago but it's not here. I'll say it again because this man is one of my new favorites: Kent Haruf. All his books are slender but pack a massive punch. Benediction is the latest but Plain Song is also wonderful.

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  26. I really enjoyed Goodwill Tour, which is a sweet book about a man who goes on a road trip and simultaneously does a pay-it-forward kind of thing by giving money to good samaritans and people in need. I remember it being a nice break from some longer, heavier books I'd been reading and I liked it a lot :)

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  27. My recs: Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson (middle grade), The End of the Alphabet by CS Richardson, The Gifts of the Body by Rebecca Brown (short stories), Wit by Margaret Edson (drama), Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit, and definitely Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.

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  28. I really enjoyed Daniel Woodrell's the Maid's Version - just 164 pages.

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  29. Totally taking notes on this one! 2014 will be my year that I finally read Shirley Jackson. I am determined for that!

    Short books ... I usually turn to graphic novels, a couple of my favorites being Fables and Y: The Last Man. Though I will also read anything by Doug TenNapel. The only non-graphic that I can think of is The Ultimate Gift. Either I don't read a lot of shorts/novellas or they are just not memorable to me!

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  30. I'll second Shannon, The Maid's Version is good. I haven't read, but a trusted source recommended The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante. If you like a little bit of weird fiction, Ablutions by Patrick DeWitt is unusual, but good.

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  31. I would recommend of Mice and Men by Steinbeck, Animal Farm by Orwell, Peter Pan and The Giver by Lowry

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  32. Circulation is a fantastic novella by Tim Horvath. It's only about 60 pages, and it was originally published on its own, but it's also printed in his short story collection, Understories. Circulation is my favorite of his stories, but they're all worth a read!

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  33. We Have Always Lived in the Castle was fantastic, wasn't it? I really need to read more Jackson.

    A few recommendations:
    -Address Unknown by Katharine Kressman Taylor
    -The Diaries of Adam and Eve by Mark Twain
    -The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
    -Lightning by Jean Echenoz
    -Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

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  34. I haven't read Woodrell's A Maid's Version, but due to some mixed reviews of it, I will try to convince you to read Winter's Bone as your first Woodrell if you want to pick him up. A short novel and one of my favorite books ever. I think I've recommended it to you before on Twitter so sorry for the repetition, but it is really so very good.

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