Short Books to Read Before You Die

I recently read a comment by a young mom who wanted to read books on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list, but was struggling to get through some of the longer titles. I chimed in with my advice: those literary beasts – books like Les Miserables, Middlemarch, Anna Karenina, The Count of Monte Cristo, and The Brothers Karamazov – will always be there to pick up later or to save for a vacation or summer break. For now, consider reading some of the shorter books on the List.

P8312473If you’re a person whose time or attention span can’t handle tackling a 500+ page book right now, but you still want to get in some worthwhile reading, here is a list of 20 quick reads to consider, all of which are on the 1001 Books list. All of these are 200 pages or less and will introduce you to some of the most important literary works and writers of the English language.

Here are some other great short works that are not on the 1001 Books list:

  • Utopia by Thomas More
  • The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
  • My Antonia or O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
  • The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis
  • The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis

And here are a few short non-fictional titles to consider:

You could also pick up a collection of short stories, such as the following:

  • The Fall of the House of Usher and other tales by Edgar Allan Poe
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles and Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Young Goodman Brown and Other Short Stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • The Gift of the Magi and other Short Stories by O. Henry
  • A Good Man is Hard to Find and other stories by Flannery O’Connor

Finally, why not try reading some plays – they’re always quite short! Besides the obvious plays by Shakespeare, try some of these:

  • She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith
  • Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
  • The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
  • The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
  • Our Town by Thornton Wilder
  • You Can’t Take It With You by Moss Hart

Happy Reading!

What’s your favorite short book?
What other short but worthwhile books would you recommend?

3 thoughts on “Short Books to Read Before You Die

  1. Nice post. I think it is really useful some some people like me xD. When I’m studying I rarely can read long books :(.

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