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25 Phenomenal Short Novels You Can Read In A Day

Literary Gems in Bite-sized Packages

By NovelNest BooksPublished 11 months ago 6 min read

In a world filled with long novels that demand weeks or even months of our time, it's refreshing to discover short novels that pack a punch in just a single day. These compact literary gems offer the perfect escape for busy readers who crave powerful storytelling within a limited timeframe. In this blog post, we present 25 phenomenal short novels that you can devour from cover to cover in a single day. Get ready to embark on literary adventures that will captivate your imagination and leave a lasting impact.

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1. Heartburn by Nora Ephron:

Heartburn takes us on a journey through the breakdown of a marriage with a poignant blend of humor and heartbreak. Nora Ephron's witty and honest writing style delivers a relatable story that explores love, infidelity, and the resilience of the human spirit.

2. The Awakening by Kate Chopin:

Kate Chopin's groundbreaking novel tells the story of Edna Pontellier, a woman trapped in the confines of her marriage and society's expectations. As Edna awakens to her own desires and independence, readers are compelled to reflect on the constraints placed upon women in the early 20th century.

3. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams:

Prepare for a hilariously absurd adventure across the universe with Arthur Dent as he navigates space, time, and the meaning of life itself. Douglas Adams' witty and imaginative storytelling makes this sci-fi classic a delightful and quick read.

4. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury:

In a dystopian future, where books are banned and burned, Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 explores the power of knowledge and the consequences of a society devoid of intellectual curiosity. This thought-provoking novella raises important questions about censorship and the value of literature.

5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald:

Immerse yourself in the glitz and glamour of the Jazz Age with F. Scott Fitzgerald's timeless classic. The Great Gatsby unveils the illusions of the American Dream through the eyes of Jay Gatsby and offers a poignant commentary on love, wealth, and the pursuit of happiness.

6. The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie:

Agatha Christie's masterful mystery novel takes readers on a thrilling investigation as Miss Marple unravels the secrets behind a mysterious body found in a library. With twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the very end, this short novel showcases Christie's unparalleled storytelling prowess.

7. Animal Farm by George Orwell:

George Orwell's allegorical masterpiece, Animal Farm, uses a group of farm animals to satirize the events of the Russian Revolution and expose the flaws of totalitarianism. This thought-provoking novella serves as a powerful critique of political corruption and the abuse of power.

8. Amsterdam by Ian McEwan:

In this Booker-winning novella, Ian McEwan weaves a tale of friendship and betrayal among two friends who plot the downfall of a politician. Amsterdam explores themes of morality, loyalty, and the consequences of one's actions in a compact and compelling narrative.

9. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton:

S.E. Hinton's coming-of-age novel delves into the lives of two rival teenage gangs, the Greasers and the Socs, in 1960s Oklahoma. Through the eyes of the young protagonist, Ponyboy Curtis, readers witness the struggles of identity, class, and the bonds of friendship.

10. How to Get Into the Twin Palms by Karolina Waclawiak:

Karolina Waclawiak's debut novel takes us on a wild and entertaining journey with Anya, a Polish immigrant in Los Angeles, as she schemes to reinvent herself and gain access to an exclusive nightclub. This darkly humorous and absurd tale explores themes of identity, longing, and the pursuit of belonging.

11. Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill:

Dept. of Speculation presents a series of short dispatches from the front line of a marriage, blending humor and heartbreak in the same sentence. Jenny Offill's fragmented narrative captures the complexities of relationships, motherhood, and the pursuit of individual dreams.

12. The Passion by Jeanette Winterson:

Jeanette Winterson's evocative and lyrical novel takes readers on a historical and magical journey through love, obsession, and war. Set in Napoleonic Europe, The Passion explores the boundaries of desire and the transformative power of passion.

13. The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid:

Mohsin Hamid's gripping novel follows the life of a Princeton-educated Pakistani man as his American dream unravels in the aftermath of 9/11. The Reluctant Fundamentalist examines themes of cultural identity, belonging, and the complexities of East-West relations.

14. The Giver by Lois Lowry:

Lois Lowry's young-adult dystopian novel paints a haunting picture of a seemingly utopian society where individuality and emotions are suppressed. Through the eyes of Jonas, readers are compelled to question the price of conformity and the value of personal freedom.

15. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway:

Ernest Hemingway's classic novella tells the story of an aging fisherman's struggle to catch a giant marlin in the Gulf Stream. With its sparse yet powerful prose, The Old Man and the Sea captures the essence of human resilience and the pursuit of an unwavering goal.

16. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes:

Winner of the Man Booker Prize, Julian Barnes' introspective novel delves into the complexities of memory, time, and the stories we construct for ourselves. The Sense of an Ending invites readers to reflect on the nature of truth and the impact of our past on our present selves.

17. Sula by Toni Morrison:

Toni Morrison's powerful novel explores the lives of two African-American women, Sula and Nel, as they navigate the complexities of friendship, identity, and societal expectations. With rich prose and profound storytelling, Sula showcases Morrison's exceptional talent for capturing the human experience.

18. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson:

Laurie Halse Anderson's critically acclaimed young-adult novel delves into the trauma and aftermath of sexual assault. Through the voice of the protagonist, Melinda, Speak sensitively addresses the challenges faced by survivors and the importance of finding one's voice.

19. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson:

Shirley Jackson's eerie and atmospheric novel follows the Blackwood family, entwined in a tale of mystery and murder. We Have Always Lived in the Castle offers a chilling exploration of isolation, paranoia, and the darkness that lurks within human nature.

20. The Quiet American by Graham Greene:

Set in Vietnam during the French Indochina War, Graham Greene's The Quiet American explores the moral complexities of foreign intervention and the clash of idealism and cynicism. With its compelling narrative and complex characters, this novella remains a powerful commentary on political intrigue and the consequences of action.

21. Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? by Lorrie Moore:

Lorrie Moore's beautifully crafted novel takes readers on a nostalgic journey as Berie recalls her childhood friendship with Sils and their experiences at the decaying Frog Hospital. With poetic prose and poignant observations, this book explores themes of memory, loss, and the complexities of friendship.

22. The Dig by Cynan Jones:

Cynan Jones' powerful novella follows a Welsh farmer as he struggles to make a living from his sheep while an unnamed man engages in the brutal act of digging up badgers to bait. The Dig delves into themes of survival, brutality, and the interconnectedness of all living creatures.

23. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe:

Chinua Achebe's seminal novel is a compelling portrayal of pre-colonial African society and the impact of European colonization on the Igbo people. Through the life of Okonkwo, Achebe explores themes of cultural identity, tradition, and the tragic consequences of change.

24. Shopgirl by Steve Martin:

Steve Martin's introspective novella follows the life of Mirabelle, a young woman working in a department store, as she navigates relationships, loneliness, and self-discovery. Shopgirl offers a poignant examination of modern life, human connection, and the pursuit of happiness.

25. Rape: A Love Story by Joyce Carol Oates:

Joyce Carol Oates' powerful and provocative novel tackles the aftermath of a brutal gang rape on a young mother and the challenges she faces in seeking justice and rebuilding her life. Rape: A Love Story confronts issues of violence, trauma, and the complexities of the justice system.


These books on our list of 25 phenomenal short novels offer diverse narratives that cover a wide range of themes and emotions. From exploring the intricacies of friendship and memory to delving into the brutality of human existence and societal challenges, these books deliver impactful stories that can be devoured in a single day. Whether you're seeking thought-provoking introspection, profound social commentary, or simply a captivating tale, these short novels will leave a lasting impression on your literary journey. So, grab a book, set aside a day, and let these phenomenal stories transport you to new worlds and engage your mind and heart.

SeriesYoung AdultShort StorySci FiSatirePsychologicalMysteryLoveHumorHorrorHistoricalFantasyFan FictionfamilyFableExcerptClassicalAdventure

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