10 Best and Must-Read Novellas For 2023
What better than starting with a novella if you are in a reading slump?
Novellas are the perfect workaround for our limited attention spans, as they fall between sprints and marathons. Sitting between a short story and a novel, the novella stands out for its unique versatility, making it a vibrant writing form to explore.
It’s widely underrated and, in the words of Robert Silverberg, “… one of the richest and most rewarding of literary forms.”
With the rise in e-readers like Kindle, mobile phones & tablets, the era of novellas has arrived. Reading them provides a more fulfilling experience to some readers than reading lengthy books.
Let me recommend ten novellas that would pull you from a reading slump and make you enjoy reading before you even know about it.
1) Animal Farm by George Orwell
Animal Farm is a satirical novella that uses allegory to depict the events preceding the 1917 Russian Revolution and the early Soviet Union.
The tale unfolds on a farm where the animals, under the pigs’ leadership, rebel against their human owner and establish an animal-run society.
Initially, the new animal government operates fairly and justly, but as time passes, the pigs become corrupt and begin to exploit the other animals, resulting in a brutal dictatorship.
The narrative emphasizes the perils of totalitarianism and the failure of revolutionary principles.
Though this book is listed under classic, this was very easy to get to, as the writing style is simple, and the story is relevant today. The plot is woven in such a way it makes readers pause and reflect on the workings of society, especially the political system.
2)The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
This short novel tells the story of an aging Cuban fisherman named Santiago. Despite having gone 84 days without catching a fish, Santiago sets out to sea again, determined to make a catch.
After several days of fishing, he hooks a giant marlin, but the struggle to bring it in tests his physical strength and willpower. Santiago eventually succeeds in bringing the marlin to shore, but vultures devour it before he can sell it.
Despite this setback, Santiago is proud of his accomplishment and returns to the sea with renewed spirit. The novel explores themes of determination, perseverance, and the human spirit’s triumph over adversity.
The metaphor of this tale escaped me when I gave this a read for the first time, but when I read it later during a time I was at one of my lows, it was just luminous. I was able to absorb the essence of it as work offers barely enough to live on, given the harshness and the risk it represents.
3) The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
This is a philosophical and allegorical novella about a young prince who travels from planet to planet, meeting various eccentric characters and learning about life’s essential truths.
The story is told from the perspective of a downed pilot who encounters the prince in the Sahara Desert and hears his story. Through his interactions with the prince, the pilot learns about love, loneliness, and cherishing what is truly important in life.
As a reader, I was deeply moved by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince. What sets this novella apart is how it blends imaginative storytelling with deep philosophical questions and themes.
The writing is beautiful and poetic, painting vivid pictures of the prince’s travels and the characters he encounters. The story will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page, and its messages of love, loss, and the meaning of life will remain with you forever.
Overall, I highly recommend The Little Prince to anyone looking for a unique and captivating read. Whether a child or an adult, this novella will transport you to a magical world and give you a greater appreciation for the world around you.
4) Three Women by Rabindranath Tagore
This powerful collection of short stories delves into the lives of three women, Charulata, Sharmila, and Neeraja, as they navigate the complexities of love in a male-dominated world.
Each story offers a unique glimpse into these women’s lives as they are tormented by love in one form or another and struggle to come out unscathed.
This is a must-read short story as the Tagores’ writing is vivid and evocative, capturing each character’s essence and experience. Women’s lives revolve around love, loss, and the challenges they face when men wield power. Tagore’s insight through these short stories is thought-provoking even today.
5) Metamorphosis by Francis Kafka
This timeless classic delves into the themes of identity and isolation in a surreal and absurd setting.
The story revolves around the transformation of Gregor Samsa into a giant beetle-like insect, leading to his ostracization by his family.
This haunting novella is a powerful exploration of the human experience of inadequacy, guilt, and isolation.
It is a thought-provoking masterpiece that explores the themes of identity, isolation, and the human condition in a surreal and absurd world. It is a testament to Kafka’s mastery of language and storytelling, capturing the reader’s attention from the very first page.
6) A Flight of Pigeons by Ruskin Bond
This is a beautifully written historical fiction novel set in colonial India during the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857. Mariam Labadoor and her daughter Ruth run for life after her husband is killed in the revolt. The story revolves around the two women and what happens to them in the aftermath.
I recently read A Flight of Pigeons by Ruskin Bond and was thoroughly impressed. It’s a captivating tale that explores themes of love, courage, and the power of the human spirit in the face of adversity.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction set in India and to fans of Ruskin Bond’s writing. The writing is beautiful, the story is captivating, and the themes explored are timeless and universal. A true gem of Indian literature, this novel will stay with the reader long after the final page has been turned.
7) Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
The story is set in the 1940s in New York and follows Holly Golightly, a charming and unpredictable socialite.
The narrator observes Holly, who grapples with loneliness, love, and the search for self-identity. It has a nostalgic tone and explores timeless themes of human emotions and experiences.
Holly Golightly is a quirky, unpredictable socialite who captivates the reader with her wit and charm. As I observe along with the narrator, Holly’s eccentric lifestyle and relationships with various characters provide an insightful look into the search for love and identity in the modern world.
8) The Stranger by Albert Camus
This is a novel about the life of Meursault, a detached and emotionally indifferent man living in Algiers.
This tale is a philosophical exploration of the absurdity of human existence and the meaninglessness of life. Through Meursault’s experiences, Camus presents the idea that individuals must create meaning in an inherently meaningless world.
This powerful and thought-provoking story explores the human condition and the meaning of life. The story is narrated by Meursault, a detached and emotionless man who lives in Algiers and is indifferent to the world around him.
What I appreciated most about this novel is Camus’s ability to convey the protagonist’s sense of detachment and indifference while still making the reader question their beliefs and values. It is a must-read for existentialist literature and the human experience.
9) A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
This novella by Charles Dickens tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a bitter and miserly older man who is visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve. Through these encounters, Scrooge is shown the error of his ways and is transformed into a kinder, more generous person.
I highly recommend A Christmas Carol to anyone looking for a heartwarming holiday read that is memorable and well-developed, with descriptive and atmospheric writing.
The story’s themes of redemption, hope, and the power of love are universal and still resonate today.
10) A Clockwork Orange By Anthony Burges
You will remember the movie of the same name by Stanley Kubrick, but the novel inspired the film in the first place.
The story takes place in a dystopian future where the protagonist, a young man named Alex, leads a gang of thugs on a violent spree. After being captured and subjected to a controversial new form of behavioral therapy, Alex must confront the consequences of his actions and the loss of his free will.
I recommend this book as it is powerful and incredibly well-written with Nadsat, a unique slang language that adds to a dystopian society’s overall atmosphere. The themes explored in the book, such as free will, morality, and government control, are genuinely eye-opening and make for a compelling read.
How about grabbing a cup of tea and the book/ebook from the list and letting me know what you think?
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