The “Short and Sweet” Read: Top 8 Novellas

Canoes on Maui Beach 2014

Hit the beach with a novella. (Photo by Vincent Fazzi. Kihei, Maui, July 2014.)

It’s torrid outside. It’s time for a summer fling—make that a literary summer 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.

During an eight-day trip to Maui earlier this month, I read two short novels back to back: “Jacob’s Room” by Virginia Woolf and “Wildlife” by Richard Ford. They are two of my favorite authors. What better way to enjoy them than to pick their short works? In between beach outings and sightseeing, I was able to finish the two books and still have time for a third full-length novel.

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.

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 Eight Novellas

Last year, I wrote a romance novella (my first), which Lyrical Press has accepted for publication. Its length: 40,164 words. As a homage to the novella, I rounded up my favorites:

  1. “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin (72 pages)
  2. “Summer” by Edith Wharton (104 pages)
  3. “Ethan Frome” by Edith Wharton (77 pages)
  4. “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho (192 pages)
  5. “The Lover” by Marguerite Duras (129 pages)
  6. “The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka (82 pages)
  7. “Wildlife” by Richard Ford (192 pages)
  8. “Jacob’s Room” by Virginia Woolf (144 pages)

Nine Classic Novellas by Women

You can read a novella in one day, or at least that’s what this article by Rebecca Kelley says. To check out this list of classic short novels written by women, click here.

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.

Surfing in Maui 2014

You can finish a novella in between surf sessions. (Photo by Vincent Fazzi. Kihei, Maui, July 2014.)


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