February is the month when most people start to let their New Year's resolutions slide. It's easy to get bummed this month, the weather is still cold and cloudy, and (especially in Covid times) there isn't really much going on.
If you've set yourself some 2021 reading goals and feel like you're falling behind, don't panic! First off, reading is supposed to be a fun experience and you shouldn't worry too much about hitting goals. Secondly, there are a lot of great classic novels under 200 pages long which make for easy reads.
These are the kinds of books you can finish off in a single afternoon and reading them will give you a serious sense of accomplishment! Ready to get over your mid-February blues? Check out these ten excellent classic novels under 200 pages and get started on your weekend reading.
1. The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy
(roughly 130 pages)
Tolstoy didn't just write lengthy masterpieces like Anna Karenina and War and Peace, he also penned quite a few brilliant shorter works. The Death of Ivan Ilyich is a concise and masterful study on death and asks some uncomfortable questions on what it means to truly live.
2. Animal Farm by George Orwell
(roughly 110 pages)
Animal Farm is one of George Orwell's shorter books, and should be on everyone's list of must-read classics. This 'fairy tale' about a group of farm animals who oust the abusive farmer and take control of their destinies (and the farm) will pull you in and not let you go until the rather grim final pages.
3. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
(roughly 170 pages)
Frankenstein is one of those books that I cannot recommend enough. It has everything: monsters, evil scientists, and overarching themes related to morality and knowledge. Where do we draw the line when it comes to playing God with science? You'll have to read Mary Shelley's novel to find out!
4. Bartleby, the Scrivener by Herman Melville
(roughly 64 pages)
Bartleby, the Scrivener is a little hard to pin down because it can be presented as both a long short story, or a novella. Most people automatically think of Moby-Dick when they hear Herman Melville's name, but it's a shame his 400-page magnum opus tends to overshadow other great work like Bartleby. Set on 19th century Wall-Street, Bartleby, the Scrivener is a fun, slightly sobering read.
5. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
(roughly 130 pages)
The Awakening by Kate Chopin is worth a read, if only because it tackles a controversial theme for the time it was written: female martial infidelity. This tale of a woman's emotional and sexual awakening at the turn of the century is a timeless piece of feminist literature. And the best part? You can read it in a single afternoon.
6. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
(roughly 140 pages)
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is the perfect pick-me-up because it's a short and sweet read. Part of what makes Lewis Carroll's novel so charming is that it's written in a style meant to capture a child's imagination. Which is exactly why it should be on your list!
7. A Personal Matter by Kenzaburō Ōe
(roughly 165 pages)
A Personal Matter is one of the Nobel winner's key works. Considered part memoir, part fiction, this is Ōe's most personal book and a bit of a heart-wrenching experience to read. The novel tells the dark story of a man coming to terms with the birth of his mentally disabled son.
8. Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote
(roughly 180 pages)
Yes, the beloved film of the same name starring Audrey Hepburn is based on a Capote novel! A bit darker than its film counterpart, Breakfast at Tiffany's paints a picture of a lost young woman who changes personas at the drop of a hat. But who is the real Holly Golightly?
9. A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
(roughly 160 pages)
All of Arthur Conan Doyle's stories tend to be short and satisfying, and this Sherlock Holmes mystery is no exception. A Study in Scarlet was the first published story of the famous literary detective, and takes the reader on quite a ride. We start off in foggy London, cross the ocean to explore Utah in the mid-1800s, before returning to tie the whole story up into a neat little bow.
10. Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin
(roughly 160 pages)
A truly wonderful read by James Baldwin, and one of his best love stories. Set against the backdrop of 1950s Paris, Giovanni's Room is a classic which explores forbidden love and the exploration of one's sexual identity. A must-read as one of the great works of gay literature.
How many of these 10 great classic novels under 200 pages have you read?
Share your favorite short and sweet reads with us in the comments section below.