In Praise of the "Short and Sweet": Top 9 Novellas


It’s torrid outside. It’s time for a summer fling—make that a summer literary fling. I’m talking about reading something short and sweet: a novella. It’s longer and more satisfying than a short story, without the “commitment” required by a novel.

There’s so much satisfaction in reading short novels back to back. I once read "Jacob's Room" by Virginia Woolf and "Wildlife" by Richard Ford, two of my favorite authors, in less than a week during a trip to Maui. I love to binge-read novellas during vacays.

What is a Novella?

The Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines a novella as “a work of fiction intermediate in length and complexity between a short story and a novel.” This literary form is defined primarily by its length and yet there isn’t a strict word count for it.

My first published book, In His Corner, is a short novel, a contemporary, “opposites attract” romance about a young ER doctor and an Olympic gold-medalist boxer. The length: 40,164 words or 137 pages in ebook format.

Melville House, an independent publishing company, features an array of classic works in “The Art of the Novella” series, ranging from Herman Melville’s “Barlteby the Scrivner” (82 pages) to Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Hound of the Baskervilles” (213 pages).

Top Nine Novellas

As a homage to the novella, I rounded up my favorites:

1.     "The Awakening" by Kate Chopin (72 pages)

2.     “Passing” by Nella Larsen (95 pages)

3.     “Summer” by Edith Wharton (104 pages)

4.     “Ethan Frome” by Edith Wharton (77 pages)

5.     "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho (192 pages)

6.     “The Lover” by Marguerite Duras (129 pages)

7.     “The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka (82 pages)

8.     "Wildlife" by Richard Ford (192 pages)

9.     “Jacob’s Room” by Virginia Woolf (144 pages)

Note: I’ve updated this post, first published on my old blog on June 17, 2014, from a list of eight to nine novellas.

Melville House’s “Art of the Novella”

Still haven’t found your kind of novella? Check out Melville House’s recommended titles by clicking here.