Sometimes you don’t want to or you simply don’t have the time to commit to a long book, or maybe you’re participating in a readathon and you want to finish as many books as possible. Fortunately that’s where short books and novellas come to the rescue. As much as I love immersing myself into a long and complex story, there’s something special about a story you can devour in just a couple of hours. Without further ado, here are some recommendations.
In this first part I want to talk about five books and novellas under 200 pages.
All Systems Red by Martha Wells (144 pages) is the first novella in a four book series about a self-aware security robot. Narrated by the robot, who calls herself murderbot, this sci-fi adventure is just getting started. I blew through All Systems Red and was thoroughly annoyed that the rest of the novella series isn’t out yet. I want to know what my favorite murderbot does next.
I’ve talked about Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire (173 pages) a lot already. It’s one of those books that have stuck with me. I’ve only read it once thus far, yet I remember everything that happens very clearly. I describe it better in my review, but what I adore about this one is the fact that the author has described what I imagine a lot of us bookish people feel like. That there’s a perfect place for us somewhere. A place where we belong no matter our peculiarities and/or anti-social tendencies. And then beyond that, describing the intense sense of loss you must feel when that place is taken away from you.
I first picked up Binti by Nnedi Okorafor (96 pages) during booktube-a-thon last year. While I wish there was more to the story in this first book, I urge you to keep reading. The second book in this novella trilogy is freaking fantastic. The world and the cultures introduced in Binti grow and expand beyond the pages of the novella. I’ve never read anything like it. It’s really a rich sci-fi fantasy world, which packs a lot of punch in a small package. The third and last instalment came out in January and I have yet to read it. I’m excited to see how it all wraps up, but I also don’t want it to end.
Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter (114 pages) is an odd one. It’s kind of like a blend between a novella and a long poem. Inspired by Ted Hughes’ Crow — who plays a central role in the narrative — it follows a father and his two sons after losing his wife, their mother. Crow acts almost as the manifestation of their collective grief, both hurting and helping them. Upon rereading it, while personally struggling with grief, I loved it even more than the first time around. I’m not entirely sure I understand it, but in some way it found that comforting.
If you’re in the mood for a short non-fiction work, Asteroid Hunters by Carrie Nugent (128 pages) is great. It’s a small book adapted from a TED talk. I didn’t know much about asteroids and the effort to track and calculate their orbit. And frankly I wasn’t all that interested beforehand. Reading this tiny book, however, really showed me how vast our solar system is. Asteroid Hunters also contain some nice graphics, which is always a huge plus.
That’s it for now. In part two I’m going to talk about short books under 300 pages. Have you read any good books under 200 pages recently?