Novellas in November: Short Classics


The theme for Novellas in November week four (hosted by Rebecca at Bookish Beck) is short classics. Classics aren’t something I normally reach for, and I have to make a real effort to include them in my reading. I’m finicky when it comes to classics, and there are a ton of popular ones I’m bored to tears by (see the question at the end of this post). When looking through past classics I’ve read, I found that I especially loved short stories by authors like Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Isaac Asimov, and Ray Bradbury. I did find some novellas, though—I enjoyed all of the books below (some are more on the “modern classics” side of things).

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (44 pages) – This was required reading in one of my high school English classes, and I remember thinking, “What the heck is this?” It was so weird and unlike anything I’d ever read. I’m pretty sure this was my first taste of absurdist fiction, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Vaster Than Empires And More Slow by Ursula K. Le Guin (48 pages) – I haven’t read this yet, but I’m hoping to read everything by Le Guin I haven’t already, because she’s brilliant. You can pick up this novella as a stand-alone, or find it in The Found and the Lost, which contains all 13 of her novellas in one volume.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald (48 pages) – I never saw the movie, but I hear it strays from the story quite a bit? If you don’t know the premise, Benjamin Button starts out as an old man and ages backwards. All the way backwards. Anyhow, I loved this satirical novella.

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (110 pages) – I love a good coming-of-age story, and Esperanza’s voice grabbed me right from the start. A modern classic of Chicano literature, this novella tells the story of one year in Esperanza’s adolescence, as she comes of age in an impoverished Latino neighborhood in Chicago.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (112 pages) – December is just around the corner, and you can’t get more classic than this famous novella!

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt (139 pages) – Several years ago, one of my flute students recommended this to me. I’m surprised I missed out on this book as a kid, but I’m so thankful my student told me I had to read it. It’s a magical coming-of-age story, a quick read that’s perfect for a rainy afternoon. [my review]

What novella-length classics would you recommend to a classics-reluctant reader who knows they don’t like Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters, or Louisa May Alcott?

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