Good Reads Under 150 Pages

I recently learned that a book of under 100 pages won a Pulitzer Prize: The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder. I found it, read it, and found it, well, okay. It wasn't the most gripping or profound book I've ever read, but it was worth reading. And at this point in my life, when I have too many projects going, reading a fully developed yet brief novel proved a nice respite without becoming a distraction or another project that takes considerable attention to complete. (You may have accurately deduced from that comment that I am not a fast reader. It's true. I can't read a 300 page book in 3 hours--or even 6 hours--like some people.)

What I realized when I first saw that brief Pulitzer winner was that I had an internal unexamined bias in which I equated low page count with light content. This attitude had persisted in the face of my having read many wonderful short books, books that I've liked enough to keep on my shelves or that I remember many years after having read them. Now I've cast that bias away. When a The Changeling Sea by Patricia McKillip arrived on the doorstep and I saw it was only 137 pages, I was not the least put off. Quite the contrary, I was pleased to have found another book that I could fit into my life. It turned out to be a greater pleasure than I'd expected.

I know I'm not alone in either my anti-brief bias or in living a lifestyle made for brief reads, so both for skeptics and for those looking for good brief novels, here is a list I compiled from those I have read. I invite others to add to this list via comments.The criteria is a book that's under 150 pages. I've excluded poetry (much as I love it, it's a different sort of brief), and short stories (again, a different sort of brief), but I've included nonfiction memoirs and contemplations.

A Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Animal Farm by George Orwell
The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Anthem by Ayn Rand
A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf
The Pearl by John Steinbeck
Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
Daisy Miller by Henry James
The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder
The Changeling Sea by Patricia McKillip

Some of these books are required reading when we're young but are worth rereading once we've aged a little. Some are a pleasure to return to regularly--and we can since they are brief. No large block of time or 6 months of limited pre-bedtime reading required.

Again, please add your own suggestions. I'm looking for more good brief reads myself.

5 comments

LeisureLife profile image

LeisureLife 5 years ago from USA

Interesting read. I struggle with this myself some times, but whenever I finally do read a longer book and complete it, I feel great.


Jen Pearson profile image

Jen Pearson 5 years ago from Alabama Author

I agree. Longer works are very satisfying. I just find that I need to plan for them. When I spot some free time opening up, I'll start pulling lengthy novels off the shelves to choose which one to feast on. But I don't like a complete famine between these openings.


newday98033 5 years ago

Bridge of San Luis Rey is one of the best I've read at any length. The Mysterious Stranger, by Mark Twain, is very good among shorter works. The Death of Ivan Ilyich, by Tolstoy, Two, Two, by Thomas Wolfe (not Tom Wolfe, maybe not so easy to find), The Bear, by William Faulkner, all good.


Jen Pearson profile image

Jen Pearson 5 years ago from Alabama Author

Thanks for the additional suggestions, newday. I've never heard of The Mysterious Stranger or Two, Two. And I was glad to be reminded of The Bear. It had come under my radar several years ago and I'd completely forgotten it since.


newday98033 5 years ago

Hey Jen,

I read Two, Two long ago in either paperback or hard cover, and have never forgotten the emotional impact, but I don't know how easy it will be to find. Yeah, love The Bear. TMS by Twain is amazing, along with Captain Stormfield's visit to heaven. You get the idea what perspective he had. Any Tolstoy is fab, my experience. Have fun!

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