32 Short Classics You Can Read In One Sitting

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Discover short classics under 250 pages, perfect for quick and enjoyable reading!

Contrary to the misconception that classics are lengthy, there are numerous engaging options, like John Steinbeck’s The Pearl and Of Mice and Men both under 100 pages. Ideal for beginners, these classics won’t overwhelm you with endless pages. Whether you’re a high school student or a non-native English speaker, these 32 short classic novels offer a great introduction to timeless literature. Grab a cup of coffee (or tea) and dive into these cozy classics!

Also Read : 150 Classic Books Every Book Lover Should Read In Their Life Time

Easy Classics Under 250 Pages

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald ( 218 pages)

The Great Gatsby by  F. Scott Fitzgerald

Published in 1925, The Great Gatsby is a quintessential Jazz Age novel, captivating generations with the tale of Jay Gatsby’s mysterious wealth and his love for Daisy Buchanan. Set amidst lavish Long Island parties during an era when “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it’s a finely crafted portrayal of 1920s America—a must-read short classic.

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Animal Farm by George Orwell (141 pages)

Animal Farm by George Orwell

George Orwell’s Animal Farm is a short classic novella that vividly portrays a farm rebellion led by pigs Napoleon and Snowball. The story explores themes of power, corruption, and the unraveling of revolutionary ideals, drawing parallels to the Russian Revolution.

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The Pearl by John Steinbeck (96 pages)

The Pearl by John Steinbeck

The Pearl by John Steinbeck is a classic novella based on a Mexican folk tale. With classic simplicity, it delves into the secrets of human nature, greed, the depths of evil, and the possibilities of love. Ideal for beginners, this well-crafted novella is an easy classic to read.

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The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (127 pages)

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

This brief yet timeless novel recounts the tragic tale of a Cuban fisherman confronting a colossal Marlin in the Gulf Stream, a narrative acknowledged in the author’s Nobel Prize for Literature citation in 1954.

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A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (110 pages)

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Ebenezer Scrooge, a bitter miser, undergoes a transformation when the ghost of his business partner warns him to change his ways. This edition of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” includes an introduction and discussion questions for a richer reading experience. The novella captures the essence of the holidays and stands as a short classic by Dickens.

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Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (187 pages)

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

The poignant tale of two outsiders, George and his simple-minded friend Lennie, striving to carve a place in an unforgiving world. Working on a California ranch, their dream of owning land unravels in the face of cruelty and misunderstandings. Of Mice and Men is an emotionally charged short classic, exploring themes of dreams and loneliness in an accessible format.

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Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (152 pages)

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

Herman Hesse’s classic Siddhartha has captivated readers for generations. The novel follows a wealthy Indian Brahmin’s quest for spiritual fulfillment, weaving together Eastern religions, Jungian archetypes, and Western individualism. “Siddhartha” is a profound and spiritually uplifting journey of self-discovery.

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Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote (179 pages)

Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote 

Set in 1940s New York, Holly Golightly finds solace in the expensive Tiffany’s jewelry store. Her apartment is a nightly party, with men coming and going, but Holly is in search of her place in the world and true happiness. Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a great choice for those seeking short classics, especially beginners. This novella explores themes of companionship and love in a concise and engaging manner.

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The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (102 pages)

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

Next on the list is Franz Kafka’s novella, a well-known work by the author. In The Metamorphosis, Kafka opens with a startling, bizarre, yet surprisingly funny narrative. The story follows a young man who transforms overnight into a giant beetle-like insect, becoming a disgrace to his family and an alienated outsider in his own home. This harrowing, yet absurdly comic, meditation on human feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and isolation has secured its place as one of the most widely read and influential works of twentieth-century fiction.

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Night by Elie Wiesel (115 pages)

Night by Elie Wiesel

Night is a deeply moving story of a Holocaust survivor, offering a terrifying account of the Nazi death camp horror that transforms a young Jewish boy into an agonized witness to the death of his family, innocence, and faith.

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We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (214 pages)

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a chilling tale narrated by Mary Katherine Blackwood, or Merricat. With the family marked by tragedy and most members dead from arsenic poisoning, Merricat, Constance, and Uncle Julian live in isolation, shunned by villagers who suspect Constance of the murders. Its concise narrative, engaging plot, and atmospheric storytelling make it a easy classic book for adults.

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short classics under 250 pages

Letters From A Father To His Daughter- Jawaharlal Nehru (154 pages)

Letters From A Father To His Daughter- Jawaharlal Nehru

When Indira Gandhi was ten, she spent a summer in Mussoorie, and her father, Jawaharlal Nehru, wrote her a series of letters. In these letters from 1928, Nehru shared the story of the earth’s creation, the beginnings of life, and the evolution of civilizations worldwide. This under-200-page classic, Letters From A Father To His Daughter, explores nature, humanity, and religion in an easy-to-read format.”

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Sula by Toni Morrison (192 pages)

Sula by Toni Morrison

In Toni Morrison’s Sula, Nel Wright stays in her birthplace, embracing family life, while Sula Peace rebels, pursuing college and city living. Their choices lead to consequences, offering an unforgettable portrait of being a black woman in America. Morrison’s “Sula” is a beautifully allegorical story of friendship that invites repeated readings.

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Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (209 pages)

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Things Fall Apart is a succinct portrayal of a “strong man” whose life is ruled by fear and anger. Written with remarkable economy and subtle irony, this uniquely African short classic by Achebe also reflects universal human qualities across time and cultures, offering profound insights.

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The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry  (96 pages)

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The Little Prince, a moral allegory and spiritual autobiography, holds the record as the most translated book in French. This timeless tale follows a little boy’s journey through the universe, where he learns about adult behavior through extraordinary encounters. Culminating in a voyage to Earth, this short classic not only offers a brief read but also imparts profound lessons about the true meaning of life.

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Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (224 pages)

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf’s greatest novel, a vivid portrait of a day in Mrs. Clarissa Dalloway’s life, is a compelling addition to the must-read classic list. As she prepares for a party, Clarissa reflects on her past and contemplates the realities of the present, reexamining the choices that brought her to this point and contemplating the unfamiliar journey of growing old.

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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Ivan Denisovich ( 234 pages)

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Ivan Denisovich

Published in 1962 in Novy Mir, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is a contemporary classic. It tells the story of Ivan Denisovich Shukhov, a labor camp inmate, vividly depicting his struggle for dignity under communist oppression. Written in simple language, this classic offers a terrifying tale of a young man’s ordeal.

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Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? by Lorrie Moore  ( 160 pages)

Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? by Lorrie Moore  

The summer Berie turned fifteen, she and her friend Sils worked at Storyland in upstate New York. Berie sold tickets while Sils portrayed Cinderella. They enjoyed breaks smoking, joking, and gossiping. Their adventures included sleeping in a station wagon and sipping liquor from mayonnaise jars. But when Sils needs help, the carefree days take a serious turn in this easy-to-read coming-of-age classic that can be finished in a day.

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Speedboat by Renata Adler (192 pages)

Speedboat by Renata Adler

Renata Adler’s Speedboat follows the coming-of-age journey of a young female newspaper reporter in New York City. Written in a unique style, the novel is a collection of seemingly unrelated vignettes that offer a sharp analysis of urban existence, remaining as fresh as ever since its first publication.

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Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger (201 pages)

Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger

In the short story Franny, an undergraduate in an unnamed college town grows disillusioned with the perceived selfishness and inauthenticity around her. The novella “Zooey” follows Zooey Glass, aiding his sister Franny during a spiritual crisis. J.D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey, a short classic of around 200 pages, delves into themes of religion, family, and intellectualism.

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Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (176 pages)

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

In Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys returns with a modern fiction masterpiece, shedding light on the madwoman in the attic from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. The novella follows Antoinette Cosway, sold into marriage to Mr. Rochester, in a society driven by hatred and skewed sexual relations, pushing her to the brink of madness. This dark exploration delves into themes of identity, marriage, and relationships.

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Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan (154 pages)

Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan

On the French Riviera, the beautiful and hedonistic Cécile and her libertine father Raymond lead a life of free love and indulgence. When Raymond decides to marry, Cécile and her lover intervene, leading to tragic consequences. Written by Françoise Sagan at eighteen, this quick classic book explores jealousy and relationships in a descriptive narrative style.

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (192 pages)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Charlie Bucket’s adventure kicks off when he discovers a Golden Ticket, earning him a day in Mr. Willy Wonka’s enigmatic chocolate factory. Unaware of the surprises awaiting him, Charlie’s journey in this easy-to-read classic is a must-experience. If you haven’t read it yet, dive into the delightful world of Willy Wonka immediately.

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The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter (56 pages)

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

In The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Peter and his sisters are warned not to enter MacGregor’s garden, where their father met an unfortunate end. Disobeying his mother, Peter sneaks in, feasts on vegetables, narrowly escapes MacGregor, and returns home for chamomile tea. This easy classic offers an entertaining read, perfect for those seeking a timeless story to revisit.

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Matilda by Roald Dahl (232 pages)

Matilda by Roald Dahl

Matilda features a little girl with astonishing intelligence and a love for reading. Despite having self-centered parents and a nightmarish school principal, Matilda’s resilience and intellect shine. This fun and engaging classic novel, just under 250 pages, is a delightful read for those who enjoy tales of cleverness and revenge

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The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting ( 180 pages)

The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting

In this beloved children’s classic, Doctor John Dolittle’s love for animals propels him to learn their language from Polynesia the parrot. Becoming a world-famous doctor, he travels, even to Africa, to help his animal friends. With black-and-white illustrations by Michael Hague, The Story of Doctor Dolittle is a must-read adventure for both adults and kids.

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Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel García Márquez (122 pages)

Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel García Márquez

In Gabriel García Márquez’s compelling novel, a man returns to the town where a mysterious murder occurred 27 years ago. After marrying Angela Vicario, Bayardo San Roman returns her in disgrace, leading to the announcement of Santiago Nasar’s impending murder by her twin brothers. Despite everyone’s knowledge, no one intervenes. As the story unfolds, an entire society is put on trial, making it a uniquely gripping classic perfect for beginner readers.

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 Lord of The Flies by William Golding(224 pages)

Lord of The Flies by William Golding

In the onset of the next world war, a plane crash leaves a group of schoolboys stranded on an uninhabited island. Initially reveling in their freedom, their attempt to create a society unravels in the face of terror, sin, and evil. As order collapses, the hope of adventure fades, and the darkness of man’s heart takes center stage. Lord of the Flies is a classic short novel, often hailed as a parable and a compelling exploration of the end of innocence

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The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson ( 236 pages)

The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson

The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man,” the pioneering fictional memoir by a black author, shaped the Harlem Renaissance and inspired Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, and Richard Wright. Written in the 1920s, it provides a striking perspective on racial identity, uncovering the double standard imposed on black Americans. This fictional autobiography captures the life of a colored man in the early 1900s.

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O, Pioneers! by Willa Cather (142 pages)

O, Pioneers! by Willa Cather

Willa Cather’s O Pioneers! is her first and often hailed as her masterpiece. Set on the wind-blasted prairie of Hanover, Nebraska, it portrays the transformation of the American frontier and its settlers, focusing on Alexandra Bergson. A short classic, it powerfully explores the relationship between people and the land, blending archetypal success with the shadow of loss.

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The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (122 pages)

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

The Turn of the Screw follows a young governess who cares for peculiar, silent children at a haunted estate, plagued by malevolent entities. As the fiendish creatures draw nearer, the governess is horrified to find that the children desire the lurking evil as much as it seeks them. This short gothic novel is perfect for a single sitting.

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The Stranger by Albert Camus(123 pages)

The Stranger by Albert Camus

Camus’ The Stranger delves into the existential theme of “the nakedness of man faced with the absurd” through the tale of an ordinary man entangled in a senseless murder on an Algerian beach. Published in 1946 and recently translated by Matthew Ward, this short classic imparts a potent message about human existence.

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Short Classic Booklist PDF : Free Download

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Conclusion

There you have the list of 32 short classic novels . Don’t forget to download the printable list of short classic books!

More Short Books and Classic Novel Recommendations

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Stephy George
Stephy George

Hi I am Stephy ! I became a bookworm in my late twenties. So I created this little corner of books online to share my love of reading with YOU! I want to help you find the best books to read so you won’t ever have to worry about your next read!

5 Comments

  1. Hello Angie, creating a Pinterest board is such a wonderful idea and I love borrowing books from my local library as well. I get super excited whenever I can grab a new release from the library. And to answer your question, there are some books that may be not for us. In my case, I couldn’t get into Dickens Oliver Twist. So I just gave myself permission to skip it. Maybe you don’t want to let it go like I did, then how about taking a break from classics and choosing some cozy reads? I have a few posts that are perfect for fall which also includes classics, if you still want to read them- https://www.thecreativemuggle.com/classic-fall-reads/ or. https://www.thecreativemuggle.com/ya-fall-reads/. Let me know whether you love reading them.

  2. I have created a Pinterest board for this list. My goal for 2023 is to read as many books from our wonderful local public library as possible. This should give me a good start! Thanks for the checklist; that is a great bonus! As far as classics, I think I have read my share but one has defeated me year after year: Middlemarch. I have started it 3 times and just can’t seem to finish it. I finally asked my daughter, an MS in Library Science, for permission to skip it. She said OK. Can you give me any reason to try again?

  3. Awesome. I am glad that you’ve find the list helpful.

  4. Fantastic list! I added some of your suggestions to my lists for my two teenage sons for our upcoming home school year.

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