World's Greatest Novellas

A novella is a fictional prose narrative, as a rule of thumb more than 20,000 but fewer than 50,000 words in length. These boundaries are approximate, as there is no generally agreed definition of a novella other than that it is of intermediate length. The distinctions between a novella and a short novel, and between a novella and a long short story, are not absolutely clear: but, in general, the novella is of such a length that, published together, no more than four novellas would make a single novel-length book. The vagueness of the description may be seen from the definition offered by Wikipedia, below.

From Wikipedia: A novella is a written, fictional, prose narrative normally longer than a short story but shorter than a novel.

(Note: The situation has been complicated by the use of the term 'novelette' to describe a work intermediate between the long short story and the novella. It seems to have had its origins as an accepted subcategory at the 1955 Hugo Awards, where it designated a work of "between 7,500 and 17,500 words". There is some question as to whether the appearance of the novelette as a separate formal category is simply a commercially-driven attempt to subdivide the traditional short story category for competition purposes: works of this 'novelette' length have been described elsewhere as long short stories. Certainly, the 'novelette' has not been accepted as a distinct form outside genre fiction. Elsewhere, it retains its original, derogatory meaning of a novel of a light, romantic, or sentimental character.)
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flag this list (?)
515 books · 1,308 voters · list created December 17th, 2008 by Ashley (votes) .
647 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Ashley 272 books
39 friends
Phillip 4440 books
124 friends
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads 3094 books
804 friends
jo 2517 books
326 friends
Wilhelmina 1547 books
337 friends
Vera 359 books
595 friends
Jessica 351 books
61 friends
Kelly 808 books
3415 friends

More voters…


Comments Showing 1-50 of 72 (72 new)


message 1: by Brian (new)

Brian Moll How can Kafka on the Shore be considered a novella? Its 600 pages long.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Y'all want me to remove it?


message 3: by Brian (new)

Brian Moll I would say for the sake of the list's integrity...since at that length it could almost be considered the opposite of a novella.

But then again it's just a list on the internet.


message 4: by Paul (new)

Paul Bowes Half of the books on this list are novels, not novellas. Kafka on the Shore is a long novel.

Novels are usually printed around 350-400 words per page, and a novel of publishable length is usually around 80-100,000 words. This gives a final printed size around 200-250 pages. A novella is substantially shorter, but long enough to be clearly not a short story. Two or three novellas might be published together as a standard-sized book. Obviously this is subjective: the French regularly publish as novels (romans) books that in the Anglo-American world would be seen as too short for solo publication. Some of Amelie Nothomb's novels, for example, are so short that we would probably call them short stories.

I read about 40 pages per hour, and I think of a novella as something that will take me two to three hours to read without rushing. Animal Farm is a good example - too long to be a short story, too short to be a novel. Perhaps that's one reason why Orwell called it 'a fairy tale'?

As a rule of thumb, then, anything that runs over 120 pages in a normal paperback edition is pushing the limits of the novella but will probably squeak by so long as it stays under 150 pages or 60,000 words. Anything over that is definitely a novel. Anything under 40 pages is a short story.

If this list is to be useful it needs pruning. I would suggest looking for books that run between about 60 and 120 pages of normal type, not including introductions and notes.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads If y'all want it pruned, just tell me what to cut.


message 6: by Paul (new)

Paul Bowes These are the titles I think are questionable:

The Great Gatsby (novel)

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (novel)

The War of the Worlds (novel)

Kafka On the Shore (novel)

My Life and Hard Times (non-fiction)

Mrs Dalloway (novel)

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (novel: included in the Time list of the 100 Best Novels, 2005)

Steppenwolf (novel)

The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (non-fiction).

I'm not sure about the following:

Identity (subtitled 'a novel' by the author, but certainly very short)

Madame de Treymes (there is an edition called 'Madame de Treymes and Three Novellas', which implies that someone else thinks it isn't a novella).


message 7: by Linda (new)

Linda I agree with Paul, as I've read most of these.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Whoops, sorry, slipped my mind.


message 10: by Andy (new)

Andy Deleted from the list: Clarissa. Not only is this book too long to be a novella, but it's actually one of the longest novels of all time.


message 11: by David (new)

David I don't see how Turn of the Screw isn't NUMBER ONE! It's more intriguing than most long novels, I think!


message 12: by Cullen (new)

Cullen Nick wrote: "The Long Walk is not a novella and shouldn't be on the list."

Agreed. I just read this last week. It is ~350 pages. I have removed it from the list.


message 13: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Nov 19, 2012 12:52PM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads I'm not deaf; please cease shouting.

Also, you can claim your author page at the bottom of the author page.


message 14: by Bettie☯ (last edited Nov 19, 2012 01:53PM) (new)

Bettie☯ Jim wrote: "FRIM HELL TO HEAVEN TO HELL IS A DYNAMIC NON-FICTION STORY THAT HAS EVERYTHING YOUR LOOKING FOR AND MORE. YOU WILL CRY, LAUGH, SIT ON EDGE OF YOUR SEAT CONSTANTLY. ONE OF THE GREATEST BOOKS WROTE I..."



sheesh - life must be hard when one is chained up in the kennel.

And what is "frim" exactly...


message 15: by Bettie☯ (new)

Bettie☯ and "your" not "you're"

tum te tum....


message 16: by Cullen (last edited Nov 19, 2012 02:43PM) (new)

Cullen Jim wrote: "Susanna wrote: "I'm not deaf; please cease shouting.

Also, you can claim your author page at the bottom of the author page."

You might not be deaf, but your very rude!---Would hate to have your a..."



Her reply was appropriate and reasonable. Your original post was at best inappropriate, and at worst spam. It has been flagged for review by the admins.


message 17: by Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) (last edited Jan 02, 2013 09:39AM) (new)

Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) This list needs a bit of pruning again, especially on page 2. (The Brothers Karamazov? Les Miserables? Give me a break ...)

ETA: In that spirit, removed:
The Brothers Karamazov
Les Misérables
Carrie
Misery
1984
Papillon
The Shining


message 18: by Jim (new)

Jim Grundy Sussanna, I have no idea where this comment came from. I did not make any comment. Sorry for the comment you thought i wrote, but I didn't.


message 19: by Cullen (new)

Cullen Jim wrote: "Sussanna, I have no idea where this comment came from. I did not make any comment. Sorry for the comment you thought i wrote, but I didn't."

Your account did leave the comment before. If you did not personally type it, then I would recommend changing your password.


message 20: by Jim (new)

Jim Grundy Some people absolutely blow my mind!---If someone leaves a message with cap's, then that's their business I would think. I've known many seniors or people with eye problem's, or just not to good typing write in cap's, and I've never got insulted or mad in anyway. If you see 'cap's', then don't read it would be the correct solution if it bothers you!


message 21: by Cullen (new)

Cullen Jim wrote: "Some people absolutely blow my mind!---If someone leaves a message with cap's, then that's their business I would think. I've known many seniors or people with eye problem's, or just not to good ty..."

I am confused. Two posts ago you said you did not make any comment. Now you are defending the comment you say you didn't made. Maybe you should just admit that it was inappropriate and move on.


message 22: by Mary (new)

Mary One thing I learned 20 years ago was that you never, ever, use all caps in an e-mail...it is shouting. My boss made sure that I knew it!


message 23: by Alex (last edited Jan 07, 2013 02:56AM) (new)

Alex Cross Almost all of the voters for From Hell to Heaven to Hell only have that one book in their Goodreads library, and all have voted it five stars. On the strong assumption of vote-manipulation (at 192 pages, it is also pushing the boundaries of novella-length), I have deleted it from this list.

EDIT: Following a message from the author, I have reason to believe that many of the one-book voters were personally known to him. However, as it is a work of non-fiction it does not meet the required standards of a novella for inclusion on this list.


message 24: by Mary (new)

Mary I figure if I have 250 words per 220 pages, I have a 35,000 word novella. Novellas have come back in style with publishers (read on Publishing sites) and are expected to be closer to the edge of novel length than novelette. Just sayin'


message 25: by Paul (new)

Paul Bowes Um... 250 x 220 = 55,000, not 35,000. In my book (ho, ho)that's a short novel. But the question of how long a book has to be to qualify as a novel is a vexed one.

As a rule of thumb, a book of around 75-80,000 words is always described as a novel. I'd suggest that anything under half that length is undoubtedly a novella. It's the fuzzy middle ground that is the problem.


message 26: by Paul (new)

Paul Bowes People are still nominating books that are clearly too long (Three Men in a Boat, Brave New World) or are non-fiction (Down and Out in Paris and London).

There also seems to be some confusion caused by the fact that the standard length for a novel in French or Spanish is often rather shorter than is normal in Britain and the USA. So Juan Rulfo's Pedro Páramo is usually thought of as a novel, albeit a short one, and not a novella.


message 27: by Andy (new)

Andy Removed those three Paul, as well as 1984-it's definitely too long.


message 28: by Booklovinglady (last edited Aug 06, 2014 10:16PM) (new)

Booklovinglady I noticed several books on the list which I personally consider to be a novel and not a novella but I guess for some books it must be hard to draw the line.

I'm Dutch and for me a novella has a maxium of around a 100 to 150 pages but this might be different in the English speaking world :-)


message 29: by Booklovinglady (last edited May 01, 2013 12:23AM) (new)

Booklovinglady On the road (no 163) by Jack Kerouac has over 300 pages... I would call that a novel instead of a novella.


message 30: by Paul (new)

Paul Bowes Booklovinglady wrote: "On the road (no 163) by Jack Kerouac has over 300 pages... I would call that a novel instead of a novella."On the Road is quite definitely a novel.


message 31: by Farah (new)

Farah A Hero of Our Time is not a novella; true, it consists of different parts that each can be considered a novella but it is a novel altogether.


message 32: by Loveliest Evaris (new)

Loveliest Evaris Why do people who add to these lists not have an IQ above 65?

It says "novella" which, as the description above this list has pointed out, has been agreed upon by many to be 17,500-40,000 words.

To put it in perspective, a 34-paged chapter of a fanfic I wrote in 14 Arial font was over 8,400 words. So! Double that (68 pages), and it's around 16,000 words.

Anything that's I would say, more than 150 pages is pushing it to be considered "novella". It's that flipping simple.

Moving on.. Animal Farm FTW!


message 33: by Al (new)

Al Maki Invisible Cities is no more a novella than the Well Tempered Clavier is a sonata. It is one of my top ten favourite books, but not a novella.


message 34: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl I removed The Great Gatsby (again I guess). Probably a few more are questionable.


message 35: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl I would say Summer is too long to be considered a novella.

There's also some spam on the list but I ignored it....for now...


message 36: by Paul (new)

Paul Bowes Checked for duplicates: none found.

Removed two very obvious instances of spam, and there are others - please stop doing this, you are fooling no-one...

Many new titles in the lower half of this list are novels, often clearly described as such by their authors and/or publishers.


message 37: by Paul (new)

Paul Bowes I have edited the list description to reflect extensive changes in the Wikipedia entry from which it was originally taken. Most of the original text, much of which was confusing, has since been deleted from the Wikipedia entry in successive edits.

I have tried to clarify the normal usage of the term 'novella', and to clear up confusion with the so-called 'novelette'. If there are real problems with the new text, please let me know.


message 38: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl I don't think The Screwtape Letters at 224 pp. should be considered a novella.


message 39: by Paul (new)

Paul Bowes Lobstergirl wrote: "I don't think The Screwtape Letters at 224 pp. should be considered a novella."

Removed: along with Roth/Goodbye, Columbus (novel); Bradbury / Fahrenheit 451 (novel); Cain / The Postman Always Rings Twice (novel).

There will be others. It would be useful if people could point them out - particularly short stories masquerading as novellas. Please give the current rank, so I can find them quickly.


message 40: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl #41 "Things Fall Apart." I haven't read it but I always assumed it was a novel, at 209 pp.


message 41: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl p. 2, #112: The Scarlet Pimpernel comes in at 271 pp.

p. 2, #137: Nine Stories by Salinger. These are nine stories, not one novella, unless I'm mistaken.

p. 2, #140: "Se Isto e um Honem" is a translation of "Survival in Auschwitz" which is nonfiction, not fiction.

p. 2, #145: "Washington Square" is 245 pp.

p. 2, #184: "My Side of the Mountain" is a children's or YA novel, not an adult novella.

p. 3, #205: "Summer" by Edith Wharton is a novel.

p. 3, #217: "Lick the Razor" is a short story collection, not a novella.

p. 3, #257: "Learning to Kiss in the Snow" is a short story collection, not a novella.

p. 4, #368: "Morality Play" is definitely a novel, not a novella.


message 42: by Paul (new)

Paul Bowes Lobstergirl wrote: "p. 2, #112: The Scarlet Pimpernel comes in at 271 pp.

p. 2, #137: Nine Stories by Salinger. These are nine stories, not one novella, unless I'm mistaken.

p. 2, #140: "Se Isto e um Honem" is a tr..."


All removed. A good start.


message 43: by Paul (new)

Paul Bowes Checked for duplicates: 1 book removed.


message 44: by Melanti (last edited Jan 01, 2015 04:24PM) (new)

Melanti Removed these for being too long:
The Three Daughters of Madame Liang . 315 pgs so definitely not a novella.
Enduring Love - 256 pgs.
On The Road- 300 pgs
Behind the Attic Wall -315 pgs
Wizard of Us - 215 pgs, nonfiction.


What about Gaiman's Coroline? That's a kids' book, right, not a novella?
Or Tales of Beedle the Bard? I don't believe anything in there is long enough to be a novella, though I haven't read it in a VERY long time.


message 45: by Rohan (new)

Rohan Monteiro Are any of the novellas the first book published by an author?

Or did they all have to get famous before publishers accepted novellas for consideration?


message 46: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl #26: Death in Venice and Other Tales...

at any rate, this edition is not a novella since it includes other tales. And is Death in Venice a novella to begin with, or more of a longish story?


message 47: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl Removed The Great Gatsby AGAIN. FFS.


message 48: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl I didn't remove The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie because it's around 150 pp. - but anyone else should feel free to remove if this is considered a novel rather than a novella.


message 49: by Booklovinglady (new)

Booklovinglady Lobstergirl wrote: "I didn't remove The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie because it's around 150 pp. - but anyone else should feel free to remove if this is considered a novel rather than a novella."

Depends on the edition, I guess, as mine is only 128 pages.


message 50: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl Given that this is called World's GREATEST Novellas, can we remove books that clearly aren't the world's greatest? Such as author spam, self-published works, etc.?


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