25 Short Books to Help You Meet Your 2016 Reading Challenge Goal

Posted by Cybil on December 5, 2016

Panic may be setting in for those of us racing toward the end of our 2016 Reading Challenge and falling a little short. Thankfully, there’s no need to fear or fail. Here's a quick sampling of some fantastic speedy reads—all under 200 pages long. From the classics, to romance, to fantasy, there's a bit of something for everyone.

Do you know other books you can easily polish off before the new year? Leave the title and your recommendation in the comments.

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn
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The author who brought us Gone Girl and Dark Places brings back the chills and thrills with her take on modern gothic horror with this Edgar-Award winner for best short story. (64 pages).

Shine by Jodi Picoult
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One of our most popular authors, Picoult introduces the characters from 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards Fiction Finalist Small Great Things in this prequel. Need more convincing? This great story is snacksized. (42 pages).

Witness to a Trial by John Grisham
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Another prequel and another quick read, this time from the king of legal thrillers, John Grisham. In this slim yet action-packed story, he sets up all of the conspiracies, corruption and murder to come in The Whistler. (36 pages).

Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies by J.K. Rowling
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This collection of J.K. Rowling's writing originally appeared on Pottermore.com. Here it's collected with exclusive new content that reveals more details from the wizarding world of Harry Potter. (71 pages).

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
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Running into an old friend sparks memories from the 1970s for August, transporting her to a Brooklyn that was a place where she and her girls believed they were beautiful, talented, and brilliant. (192 pages).

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
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The queen of gothic horror brings us this tale of murder that one Goodreads reviewer summed up as "bizarre, strange, haunting, sinister, disturbing, twisted, foreboding, suffocatingly claustrophobic, leaving you with the ever-growing sense of unease." (160 pages).

Heartburn by Nora Ephron
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Ephron writes the ultimate 'he did me wrong and made a serious mistake because I'm about to write a novel about how horrible he is' book. Based on the collapse of her second marriage, Ephron shows she's not one to mess with—in her usual hilarious and witty fashion, of course. (179 pages).

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
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A national bestseller when it first appeared in 1963, this book galvanized the nation and gave passionate voice to the emerging civil rights movement. (106 pages).

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
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Finally get this tale of an old Cuban fisherman and his battle against a giant marlin off your Want to Read List this December. (132 pages).

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
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Bah! Humbug! First published in 1843, you've probably seen many movie and TV versions of this Dickens Christmas tale. Now, just in time for the holidays, read the original story. (144 pages).

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli
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In these essays, Italian theoretical physicist Rovelli guides readers through the most transformative physics breakthroughs of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It's smart and fascinating. (96 pages).

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
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Acclaimed by critics and taught in many a high school and university, this series of vignettes tells the story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago. (110 pages).

A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean
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“The world is full of bastards, the number increasing rapidly the further one gets from Missoula, Montana.” In Maclean's autobiographical novella, he looks back at his family's complicated history, especially that between two brothers. (168 pages).

Sula by Toni Morrison
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This short book from Morrison, who won the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature, follows the lives of two heroines from their small-town childhoods to their divergent paths as adults. (192 pages).

Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
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"Men explain things to me, still. And no man has ever apologized for explaining, wrongly, things that I know and they don't." This smart and scathing essay will have you nodding your head in agreement throughout, especially if you belong to the female half of the population. (168 pages).

The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante
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An Italian national bestseller for almost a year straight, this novel about an abandoned wife is a great introduction to the beloved author of the Neapolitan novels. (188 pages).

We the Animals by Justin Torres
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A blistering debut novel about three brothers and their parents reinvents the coming-of-age story in a way that will leave you feeling like you've just had a punch in the gut. (128 pages).

Every Beat of My Heart by Bella Andrew
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How about a little romance? This double-wedding novella is a winner with our legions of romance fans. Plus, it's a great introduction to the steamy Sullivan family. (79 pages).

The Assassin and the Pirate Lord by Sarah J. Maas
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Readers of the Young Adult Fantasy genre are simply crazy for Maas. This novella is bound to get you hooked on her Throne of Glass series. (70 pages).

The Darkest Fire by Gena Showalter
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Once you consume this read, it may kindle your interest in the entire Lords of the Underworld series. Ok, I'm done with the puns now. (66 pages).

The Pearl by John Steinbeck
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This classic based on a Mexican folk tale explores the secrets of man’s nature, greed, and the possibilities of love. (96 pages).

Animal Farm by George Orwell
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"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." A satire on the Soviet Communist system that you've probably pretended to have read at some point in your life. (97 pages).

The Giver by Lois Lowry
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If you didn't read this in middle school, and you didn't see the movie, you can now see why more than a million Goodreads readers give this book 4+ stars. (180 pages).

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
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This is someone you know's favorite book, guaranteed. This novel has enchanted readers around the globe with its message of the transforming power of dreams and the importance of listening to your heart. (197 pages).

The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz
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One of Oprah's favorite books and a self-help classic, Ruiz based his guide on ancient Toltec wisdom. The Four Agreements are: Be Impeccable With Your Word, Don't Take Anything Personally, Don't Make Assumptions, and Always Do Your Best. (168 pages).

    Goodreads Deals: Special holiday offer on a beloved quick read!

Comments Showing 1-50 of 50 (50 new)

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message 1: by Katharina (new)

Katharina brokeback mountain by annie proulx (31 p.)

message 2: by Penny (new)

Penny 'The Unknown Unknown: Bookshops and the Delight of Not Getting What You Wanted' by Mark Forsyth - 23 (delicious) pages

message 3: by Ulla (new)

Ulla I recommend the following short books by Ashley Capes:
Somnus and the March Hare, a wonderful story featuring the greek God of Sleep and the March Hare, a character from Alice in Wonderland.
And the Prequel to my favourite fantasy series (caution: very addictive): Never

message 4: by Ulla (new)

Ulla Two wonderful short stories by E.D. Martin which I enjoyed this year:
Tim and Sara and A Place to Die

message 5: by John (new)

it's pure genius

Caly ☯ Crazy Book Lady The Ocean at the End of the Lane only 195 pages. Got me hooked on Neil Gaiman . Highly recommend it.

message 7: by Robert (new)

Robert If you ever need some short novels to fit in your reading challennge just get into web novels ;D

message 10: by Tegan (new)

Tegan Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton!

Only 128 pages!


message 11: by Mel (new)

Mel Uncommom Reader by Alan Bennett

message 12: by J. (new)

J. You should add Anthem, it's a wonderful little book and short enough to finish in a day.

message 13: by Serena (new)

Serena There are several short Milan Kundera books - Slowness (156 pages), Identity (168 pages), The Festival of Insignificance (115 pages), The Art of the Novel (176 pages)

message 14: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck.

Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ Now showing kindle deals. Sigh. I guess it had to happen.

Men Explain Things to Me sounds good.

message 16: by Miss Mae (new)

Miss Mae Was literally putting them on hold at my library as I was going through the list. Great suggestions!

message 18: by Mariah Roze (new)

Mariah Roze Graphic Novels!

message 19: by Anshita (new)

Anshita Yes! Finally! I was in dire need of this book list.

message 20: by Mariah Roze (new)

Mariah Roze Best Books under 200 pages:


message 21: by Paul Emily (new)

Paul Emily Ryan When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
The Animorphs series
Mary Poppins
Fullmetal Alchemist
Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood
I Am David by Anne Holm
Winnie the Pooh
Skellig by David Almond
Kensuke's Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo
Roald Dahl's books
Charlotte's Web
The Vegetarian by Han Kang
Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster
The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling
Of Mice and Men
The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin
Perfect State by Brandon Sanderson
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
A Calendar of Tales by Neil Gaiman
Elektrograd: Rusted Blood by Warren Ellis
The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle
Around the World in Eighty Days

message 22: by Neeraj (new)

Neeraj Chavan A Dog's Tale by Mark Twain is also a great book. Short yet profoundly interesting!
A Dog's Tale

message 23: by Gavin (new)

Gavin Abdollahi You could always go to graphic novels and manga.
If you're into romance and comedy, go for Nisekoi, which is 25 volumes long.
If you want an epic adventure, go for One Piece, 80+ volumes long and still going.
Into Ninjas? Try Naruto, finally finished at I think 70 something volumes.
Kids who can see ghosts? Try Bleach, also finally finished at almost the same amount as Naruto.
Fantastical magic? Go for Fairy Tail, still going, though not sure how long it's gone.
Psychological/mystery to make you think? Death Note, which is less than 20 volumes.
Wanna LOL? Try Yotsuba, which is ongoing. Also try Gintama.
Mystery? Go for Detective Conan, which is even longer than one piece, though the stories aren't really connected.
How bout a story where an octopus like creature teaches a class while they try to assassinate him? Go for AssassinationClassroom, finished at 23 or 24 or 25 volumes, if I'm not mistaken.

message 24: by Katrina (new)

Katrina McCollough http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Science... - astounding stories (bunch of short sci fi stories-all free to read)


message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

SILK by Alessandro Baricco.

message 26: by Sammm (new)

Sammm Free Online Read (super) short stories/novellas:
First Impressions A Firebird Ficlet (Firebird, #1.1) by Claudia Gray The Dagger in the Desk (Lockwood & Co.) by Jonathan Stroud Restoration of Faith (The Dresden Files, #0.2) by Jim Butcher Vignette (The Dresden Files, #5.5) by Jim Butcher Tigers in the Cage (The Great Library #0.1) by Rachel Caine Stormcrow (The Great Library #0.5) by Rachel Caine Glitches (The Lunar Chronicles, #0.5) by Marissa Meyer The Queen's Army (The Lunar Chronicles, #1.5) by Marissa Meyer Carswell's Guide to Being Lucky (The Lunar Chronicles, #3.1) by Marissa Meyer The Little Android (The Lunar Chronicles, #0.6) by Marissa Meyer

Not free ones (lol):
On the Merits of Unnaturalness by Samantha Shannon The Pale Dreamer (The Bone Season, #0.5) by Samantha Shannon The Map (Jackaby, #1.5) by William Ritter

message 27: by Jade (new)

Jade Moore The Gifts of Reading by Robert Macfarlane

A very quick read, proceeds go to charity and you'll fall in love with the act of reading books all over again.

message 28: by Selena (new)

Selena Any manga would be good... if you don't consider long-format comics to be cheating :)

message 29: by Diana (new)

Diana There are some great short stories on Tor.com.

message 30: by Denise (new)

Denise Sammm wrote: "Free Online Read (super) short stories/novellas:
First Impressions A Firebird Ficlet (Firebird, #1.1) by Claudia GrayThe Dagger in the Desk (Lockwood & Co. #1.5) by Jonathan Stroud[bookcover..."

@.@ There are free Great Library short stories? How did I not know aout this? -> Off to read them at once!

[author:Seanan McGuire|2860219] has a ton of free short stories from her October Daye and InCryptid series available on her website.

message 31: by Juliet (new)

Juliet Caly ☯ wrote: "The Ocean at the End of the Lane only 195 pages. Got me hooked on Neil Gaiman . Highly recommend it."


message 32: by Mariah Roze (new)

Mariah Roze James wrote: "Caly ☯ wrote: "The Ocean at the End of the Lane only 195 pages. Got me hooked on Neil Gaiman . Highly recommend it."


I just requested this book from the library because of you two :)

message 33: by Conrad (new)

Conrad J God bless.

Chose not to count comics this year and will be about 3 books short of my goal in the last two weeks. Found five books here.

Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* Good idea for a December blog post. I note that short doesn't always mean quick read, especially if it's a hefty writing style (especially some stifling classics). I read The Pearl this year for the first time and had mixed feelings on the message, but enjoyed revisiting the writing of Steinback.

message 36: by J. (new)

J. A short story just in time for Christmas: A Canadian Christmas Carol

message 37: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia Elly Griffiths
Ruth's First Christmas Tree
A nice little short story featuring Ruth Galloway and the other characters from the series.

message 38: by Kyle (new)

Kyle Pantermoller The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, of course!

message 39: by Maya (new)

Maya GIVER! ( that is all I need to say)

message 40: by Suzie (last edited Dec 19, 2016 05:14PM) (new)

Suzie Frankenstein by Mary Shelly
Oh! Also The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams is a pretty quick read.

message 41: by Karina (new)

Karina Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (151 pages). An incredible novel of the pre-Buddhism era and a man's spiritual journey

message 42: by JumbleofJargon (new)

JumbleofJargon Really Good Short Graphic Novels/ Comic Books
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Giant Days, Vol. 1 by John Allison
Sweet Tooth, Volume 1: Out of the Deep Woods by Jeff Lemire
Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson
The Marvels by Brian Selznick
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

message 43: by Etta (new)

Etta Walker The Children's Story by James Clavell. 85 pages Excellent, thought provoking about how easily (children's) minds can be manipulated. A very good read for now.

message 44: by J. (new)

J. Etta wrote: "The Children's Story by James Clavell."

James Clavell is great; they're a bit long for this list, but King Rat and Tai-Pan were really fascinating.

message 45: by Etta (new)

Etta Walker This book is 85 pages unlike his other books.

message 47: by Juanita (new)

Juanita I'm kind of hoping my reading is more than just about reading short books so that I can reach my goal!

message 48: by Savannah (new)

Savannah The Outsiders by SE Hinton is a good one and is short!

message 49: by Dharini (new)

Dharini The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka.

message 50: by Terrence (new)

Terrence Kennedy A good read for self-help books specially for men.
And another for self-improvement

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