Recently - as you'll know if you had a look at my last post - I was asked to deliver a session to Heads of English about encouraging independence in A level students. We covered lots, but one short section of the session changed me more than I thought it might. It was about reading. It's tough to keep kids reading, especially between 16 and 20, and sometimes it can be the sheer length of a book, and the time-commitment it requires, that puts them (and us) off picking up. So I decided to assemble a killer list of super-short novels.
In the previous post, I covered 14 novellas you could read in a weekend. Here, I cover 14 short novels you could read in a week. The number of pages are in brackets. So here it is - part two:
Fourteen Very Short Novels you can Read in a Week
I am Legend – Richard Matheson (160)
Invisible Cities – Italo Calvino (165)
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark (170)
The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison (172)
Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury (175)
We Have Always Lived in the Castle – Shirley Jackson (176)
The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald (180)
Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption – Stephen King (181)
Cannery Row - John Steinbeck (181)
A Pocketful of Rye – Agatha Christie (192)
The Woman in Black – Susan Hill (200)
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams (205)
Lord of the Flies – William Golding (224)
The Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger (240)
If you gave yourself a week each to reading four of these, over the course of a month you'll probably get something close to a life-changing experience. The world, I swear, will never be quite the same again. Your cultural capital will quadruple. Possibilities will open up. If you're stuck just choose - I dunno - Calvino, Jackson, Fitzgerald and Golding.
As an introduction to literature, its purpose and power, you could do much worse. If you've got a reluctant reader in your house, or a child embarking on a literature course, get a hold of some of these.
And join them on the journey.