Short classics under 250 pages
Did you know the famous classic novel “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is just 90 pages? It’s one of the shortest classics you will ever read.
It’s quite interesting how we often look upon classics novels as books with tediously long pages, maybe at least 1000 pages if not more. That’s probably why readers often hesitate to pick up classics in the first place.
A couple of years ago, I grabbed the abridged version of Steinbeck’s novel “The Grapes of Wrath” to speed up my reading. At that time I had no idea that he had written short classics such as “The Pearl” and “Of Mice and Men”. each of these classics is roughly 100 pages.
If you are someone who hasn’t read any classics yet, short classics are the best way to get started. The great thing about reading short classic novels is that they don’t demand a longer attention span. So you won’t be overwhelmed with endless pages either!
The list I created below of famous short classics is easy to read (compared to long classics). These 32 short classics are under 250 pages! So you don’t have to spend days reading them.
Some of the novels are so short that I am pretty sure that you’re going to read them within a few hours! So undoubtedly, everyone should read these short classics at least once in their life.
So let’s grab a cup of coffee (or tea) and start reading these incredible short classics under 250 pages or less!
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald ( 218 pages)
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
First published in 1925, this quintessential novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the mysteriously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.
Animal Farm by George Orwell (141 pages)
“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” ― George Orwell, Animal Farm
Mr. Jones of Manor Farm is so lazy and drunk that one day he forgets to feed his livestock. The ensuing rebellion under the leadership of the pigs Napoleon and Snowball leads to the animals taking over the farm. Vowing to eliminate the terrible inequities of the farmyard, the renamed Animal Farm is organized to benefit all who walk on four legs. But as time passes, the ideals of the rebellion are corrupted, then forgotten. And something new and unexpected emerges..
The Pearl by John Steinbeck (96 pages)
“For it is said that humans are never satisfied, that you give them one thing and they want something more. And this is said in disparagement, whereas it is one of the greatest talents the species has and one that has made it superior to animals that are satisfied with what they have.”― John Steinbeck, The Pearl.
A story of classic simplicity, based on a Mexican folk tale, The Pearl explores the secrets of man’s nature, greed, the darkest depths of evil, and the luminous possibilities of love.
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (127 pages)
“Every day is a new day. It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready.”― Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea
This short novel, already a modern classic, is the superbly told, tragic story of a Cuban fisherman in the Gulf Stream and the giant Marlin he kills and loses — specifically referred to in the citation accompanying the author’s Nobel Prize for literature in 1954
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (110 pages)
“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.”― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
To bitter, miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, Christmas is just another day. But all that changes when the ghost of his long-dead business partner appears, warning Scrooge to change his ways before it’s too late. Part of the Focus on the Family Great Stories collection, this edition features an in-depth introduction and discussion questions by Joe Wheeler to provide greater understanding for today’s reader. “A Christmas Carol” captures the heart of the holidays like no other novel.
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (187 pages)
“Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.”― John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men
The compelling story of two outsiders striving to find their place in an unforgiving world. Drifters in search of work, George and his simple-minded friend Lennie have nothing in the world except each other and a dream — a dream that one day they will have some land of their own. Eventually, they find work on a ranch in California’s Salinas Valley, but their hopes are doomed as Lennie, struggling against extreme cruelty, misunderstanding and feelings of jealousy, becomes a victim of his own strength.
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (152 pages)
“Wisdom cannot be imparted. Wisdom that a wise man attempts to impart always sounds like foolishness to someone else … Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha
Herman Hesse’s classic novel has delighted, inspired, and influenced generations of readers, writers, and thinkers. In this story of a wealthy Indian Brahmin who casts off a life of privilege to seek spiritual fulfillment. Hesse synthesizes disparate philosophies–Eastern religions, Jungian archetypes, Western individualism–into a unique vision of life as expressed through one man’s search for true meaning.
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Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote (179 pages)
“Anyone who ever gave you confidence, you owe them a lot.”― Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Three Stories
New York in the 1940s. In the expensive jewellery store, Tiffany’s, Holly Golightly feels calm and safe. In her apartment every night is party night. Men come and go. But Holly is searching for her place in the world. Can any of these men offer her happiness?
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (102 pages)
“I cannot make you understand. I cannot make anyone understand what is happening inside me. I cannot even explain it to myself.”― Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis
With it’s startling, bizarre, yet surprisingly funny first opening, Kafka begins his masterpiece, The Metamorphosis. It is the story of a young man who, transformed overnight into a giant beetle-like insect, becomes an object of disgrace to his family, an outsider in his own home, a quintessentially alienated man. A harrowing—though absurdly comic—meditation on human feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and isolation, The Metamorphosis has taken its place as one of the most widely read and influential works of twentieth-century fiction
Night by Elie Wiesel (115 pages)
“Human suffering anywhere concerns men and women everywhere.”― Elie Wiesel, Night
“Night” — A terrifying account of the Nazi death camp horror that turns a young Jewish boy into an agonized witness to the death of his family…the death of his innocence…and the death of his God. Penetrating and powerful, as personal as “The Diary Of Anne Frank,” “Night” awakens the shocking memory of evil at its absolute and carries with it the unforgettable message that this horror must never be allowed to happen again.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (214 pages)
“A pretty sight, a lady with a book.”― Shirley Jackson, We Have Always Lived in the Castle
My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing, and dogs, and noise, I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cap mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.
Letters From A Father To His Daughter- Jawaharlal Nehru (154 pages)
When Indira Gandhi was a little girl of ten, she spent the summer in Mussoorie, while her father, Jawaharlal Nehru, was in Allahabad. Over the summer, Nehru wrote her a series of letters in which he told her the story of how and when the earth was made, how human and animal life began, and how civilizations and societies evolved all over the world. Written in 1928, these letters remain fresh and vibrant, and capture Nehru’s love for people and for nature, whose story was for him ‘more interesting than any other story or novel that you may have read’
Sula by Toni Morrison (192 pages)
“Like any artist without an art form, she became dangerous.”― Toni Morrison, Sula
Nel Wright has chosen to stay in the place where she was born, to marry, raise a family, and become a pillar of the black community. Sula Peace has rejected the life Nel has embraced, escaping to college, and submerging herself in city life. When she returns to her roots, it is as a rebel and a wanton seductress. Eventually, both women must face the consequences of their choices. Together, they create an unforgettable portrait of what it means and costs to be a black woman in America.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (209 pages)
“The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.” ― Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart
A simple story of a “strong man” whose life is dominated by fear and anger, Things Fall Apart is written with remarkable economy and subtle irony. Uniquely and richly African, at the same time it reveals Achebe’s keen awareness of the human qualities common to men of all times and places.
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (96 pages)
“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
Moral allegory and spiritual autobiography, The Little Prince is the most translated book in the French language. With a timeless charm it tells the story of a little boy who leaves the safety of his own tiny planet to travel the universe, learning the vagaries of adult behaviour through a series of extraordinary encounters. His personal odyssey culminates in a voyage to Earth and further adventures
Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (224 pages)
“She had the perpetual sense, as she watched the taxi cabs, of being out, out, far out to sea and alone; she always had the feeling that it was very, very, dangerous to live even one day.”― Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
Heralded as Virginia Woolf’s greatest novel, this is a vivid portrait of a single day in a woman’s life. When we meet her, Mrs. Clarissa Dalloway is preoccupied with the last-minute details of party preparation while in her mind she is something much more than a perfect society hostess. As she readies her house, she is flooded with remembrances of faraway times. And, met with the realities of the present, Clarissa reexamines the choices that brought her there, hesitantly looking ahead to the unfamiliar work of growing old.
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Ivan Denisovich ( 234 pages)
“The belly is an ungrateful wretch, it never remembers past favors, it always wants more tomorrow.”― Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovic
First published in the Soviet journal Novy Mir in 1962, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich stands as a classic of contemporary literature. The story of labor camp inmate Ivan Denisovich Shukhov, it graphically describes his struggle to maintain his dignity in the face of communist oppression.
Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? by Lorrie Moore ( 160 pages)
“I’ve accrued a kind of patience, I believe, loosely like change.”― Lorrie Moore, Who Will Run The Frog Hospital?
The summer Berie was fifteen, she and her best friend Sils had jobs at Storyland in upstate New York where Berie sold tickets to see the beautiful Sils portray Cinderella in a strapless evening gown. They spent their breaks smoking, joking, and gossiping. After work they followed their own reckless rules, teasing the fun out of small-town life, sleeping in the family station wagon, and drinking borrowed liquor from old mayonnaise jars. But no matter how wild, they always managed to escape any real danger—until the adoring Berie sees that Sils really does need her help—and then everything changes
Speedboat by Renata Adler (192 pages)
“I think when you are truly stuck, when you have stood still in the same spot for too long, you throw a grenade in exactly the spot you were standing in, and jump, and pray. It is the momentum of last resort.”― Renata Adler, Speedboat
When members of the National Book Critics Circle were polled to see which book they would most like to see republished, they chose Speedboat—“by far.” This story of a young female newspaper reporter coming of age in New York City was originally published serially in the New Yorker; it is made out of seemingly unrelated vignettes—tart observations distilled through the relentless intellect—which add up to an analysis of our brittle, urban existence. It remains as fresh as when it was first published.
Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger (201 pages)
I’m sick of just liking people. I wish to God I could meet somebody I could respect.”― J.D. Salinger,Franny and Zooey
The short story, Franny, takes place in an unnamed college town and tells the tale of an undergraduate who is becoming disenchanted with the selfishness and inauthenticity she perceives all around her. The novella, Zooey, is named for Zooey Glass, the second-youngest member of the Glass family. As his younger sister, Franny, suffers a spiritual and existential breakdown in her parents’ Manhattan living room — leaving Bessie, her mother, deeply concerned — Zooey comes to her aid, offering what he thinks is brotherly love, understanding, and words of sage advice.
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (176 pages)
“There are always two deaths, the real one and the one people know about.”― Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea
Wide Sargasso Sea, a masterpiece of modern fiction, was Jean Rhys’s return to the literary center stage. She had a startling early career and was known for her extraordinary prose and haunting women characters. With Wide Sargasso Sea, her last and best-selling novel, she ingeniously brings into light one of fiction’s most fascinating characters: the madwoman in the attic from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. This mesmerizing work introduces us to Antoinette Cosway, a sensual and protected young woman who is sold into marriage to the prideful Mr. Rochester. Rhys portrays Cosway amidst a society so driven by hatred, so skewed in its sexual relations, that it can literally drive a woman out of her mind
Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan (154 pages)
“It amused me to think that one can tell the truth when one is drunk and nobody will believe it.”― Françoise Sagan, Bonjour tristesse
The French Riviera: home to the Beautiful People. And none are more beautiful than Cécile, a precocious seventeen-year-old, and her father Raymond, a vivacious libertine. Charming, decadent and irresponsible, the golden-skinned duo is dedicated to a life of free love, fast cars, and hedonistic pleasures. But then, one long, hot summer Raymond decides to marry, and Cécile and her lover Cyril feel compelled to take a hand in his amours, with tragic consequences.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (192 pages)
“You should never, never doubt something that no one is sure of.”― Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Charlie Bucket’s wonderful adventure begins when he finds one of Mr. Willy Wonka’s precious Golden Tickets and wins a whole day inside the mysterious chocolate factory. Little does he know the surprises that are in store for him!
The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter (56 pages)
“There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they’ll take you.”― Beatrix Potter
In this original edition, Peter and his sisters are told to go gather blackberries and not to go into MacGregor’s garden because Peter’s father was made into a pie by MacGregor after being found in the garden. Peter, who is wearing a new coat, promptly disobeys his mother, stuffs himself with vegetables, gets spotted by MacGregor, loses his coat and barely makes it out of the garden alive. When Peter gets home, he is given chamomile tea for dinner. Peter’s sisters, who listened to their mother and stayed out of the forbidden garden have a regular dinner.
Matilda by Roald Dahl (232 pages)
“So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.”― Roald Dahl, Matilda
Matilda is a little girl who is far too good to be true. At age five-and-a-half, she’s knocking off double-digit multiplication problems and blitz-reading Dickens. Even more remarkably, her classmates love her even though she’s a super-nerd and the teacher’s pet. But everything is not perfect in Matilda’s world. For starters, she has two of the most idiotic, self-centered parents who ever lived. Then there’s the large, busty nightmare of a school principal, Miss (“The”) Trunchbull, a former hammer-throwing champion who flings children at will and is approximately as sympathetic as a bulldozer. Fortunately for Matilda, she has the inner resources to deal with such annoyances: astonishing intelligence, saintly patience, and an innate predilection for revenge
The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting ( 180 pages)
“Money,” he said, “is a terrible nuisance. But it’s nice not to have to worry.”― Hugh Lofting, The Story of Doctor Dolittle
Doctor John Dolittle loves animals. He loves them so much that his home and office overflow with animals of every description. When Polynesia the parrot teaches him the language of the animals, Doctor Dolittle becomes a world-famous doctor, traveling even as far away as Africa to help his friends. This edition of the beloved children’s classic contains black-and-white illustrations by Michael Hague and has been edited by award-winning authors Patricia and Fredrick McKissack for modern audiences
Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel García Márquez (122 pages)
“He always considered death an unavoidable professional hazard.”― Gabriel García Márquez, Chronicle of a Death Foretold
A man returns to the town where a baffling murder took place twenty-seven years earlier, determined to get to the bottom of the story. Just hours after marrying the beautiful Angela Vicario, everyone agrees, Bayardo San Roman returned his bride in disgrace to her parents. Her distraught family forced her to name her first lover, and her twin brothers announced their intention to murder Santiago Nasar for dishonoring their sister. Yet if everyone knew the murder was going to happen, why did no one intervene to try and stop it? The more that is learned, the less is understood, and as the story races to its inexplicable conclusion, an entire society–not just a pair of murderers—is put on trial.
Lord of The Flies by William Golding(224 pages)
“Maybe there is a beast… maybe it’s only us.”― William Golding, Lord of the Flies
At the dawn of the next world war, a plane crashes on an uncharted island, stranding a group of schoolboys. At first, with no adult supervision, their freedom is something to celebrate; this far from civilization the boys can do anything they want. Anything. They attempt to forge their own society, failing, however, in the face of terror, sin, and evil. And as order collapses, as strange howls echo in the night, as terror begins its reign, the hope of adventure seems as far from reality as the hope of being rescued. Labeled a parable, an allegory, a myth, a morality tale, a parody, a political treatise, even a vision of the apocalypse, Lord of the Flies is perhaps our most memorable novel about “the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart.”
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The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson ( 236 pages)
“It’s no disgrace to be black, but it’s often very inconvenient.”― James Weldon Johnson, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man
The first fictional memoir was ever written by a black person, The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man influenced a generation of writers during the Harlem Renaissance and served as eloquent inspiration for Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, and Richard Wright. In the 1920s and since, it has also given white readers a startling new perspective on their own culture, revealing to many the double standard of racial identity imposed on black Americans.
O, Pioneers! By Willa Cather (142 pages)
“There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.”― Willa Cather, O Pioneers!
O Pioneers! (1913) was Willa Cather’s first great novel, and to many it remains her unchallenged masterpiece. No other work of fiction so faithfully conveys both the sharp physical realities and the mythic sweep of the transformation of the American frontier—and the transformation of the people who settled it. Cather’s heroine is Alexandra Bergson, who arrives on the wind-blasted prairie of Hanover, Nebraska, as a girl and grows up to make it a prosperous farm. But this archetypal success story is darkened by loss, and Alexandra’s devotion to the land may come at the cost of love itself.
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (122 pages)
“No, no—there are depths, depths! The more I go over it, the more I see in it, and the more I see in it, the more I fear. I don’t know what I don’t see—what I don’t fear!”- Henry James, The Turn of the Screw
A very young woman’s first job: governess for two weirdly beautiful, strangely distant, oddly silent children, Miles and Flora, at a forlorn estate…An estate haunted by a beckoning evil. Half-seen figures who glare from dark towers and dusty windows- silent, foul phantoms who, day by day, night by night, come closer, ever closer. With growing horror, the helpless governess realizes the fiendish creatures want the children, seeking to corrupt their bodies, possess their minds, own their souls…But worse-much worse- the governess discovers that Miles and Flora have no terror of the lurking evil. For they want the walking dead as badly as the dead want them.
The Stranger by Albert Camus(123 pages)
“I may not have been sure about what really did interest me, but I was absolutely sure about what didn’t.”― Albert Camus, The Stranger
Through the story of an ordinary man unwittingly drawn into a senseless murder on an Algerian beach, Camus explored what he termed “the nakedness of man faced with the absurd.” First published in English in 1946; now in a new translation by Matthew Ward.
Time For Your Action:
Do you always feel classics are difficult to read? What’s the longest classics you’ve ever read? Let me know in the comments!
Always curious to hear from you,
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