Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
Breakfast at Tiffany's
Truman Capote

Poor novellas. They are the middle-child, of the book world, always struggling to be noticed between their bigger and littler counterparts – too short to be novels, too long to be short stories. Overlooked in many lists of excellent literature, novellas just don't get their due, and some readers might not even realise that some of their most beloved stories were novellas. Lacking the compact one-two punch of a short story and the delicious, slowly-unfolding anticipation in a novel, it might be easy to dismiss the novella as a bland middle ground. But that would be a mistake. Sometimes a novella is just the thing.

There is some dissent over the exact length requirements of novellas. In fact, two that we've included here are often called into question - Annie Proulx's Brokeback Mountain is argued to be a short story by some and a novella by others. Conversely, The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes has been categorised both as a novel and a novella by various sources, and when it won the Booker Prize in 2011, there was some grumbling that it was not, in the strictest sense, a novel.

There is a wide range, rarely agreed upon, but the outside estimate is approximately 10,000-70,000 words – and that can be just the right length.  A novella gives the reader enough time to be immersed in the story, form attachments to characters and be emotionally invested in outcomes. They have time to develop real conflicts, but are forced by definition to skip pages and pages of minute, agonising detail for detail’s sake (I’m looking at you, Tolkien), thereby reducing reader fatigue.Yet many can still be enjoyed during a layover or a ferry trip. Many teachers of children and teenagers have utilised novellas to introduce students to more sophisticated literature without overwhelming them with a 500-page behemoth.

But don't let their brevity trick you into dismissing them as fluff – some very important, rich literature has come in novella form. Among the best known would be Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. But there are many more than most people realise. Have a look through our selection of the best novellas. We’ve included some lesser-known choices, as well as a few classics – you may be surprised to find your new favourite book in the form of the humble novella.

 

25 Excellent Novellas

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
The Time Machine
by H.G. Wells
The Sojourn by Andrew Krivak
The Sojourn
by Andrew Krivak
The Stranger by Albert Camus
The Stranger
by Albert Camus
The Tenth Man by Graham Greene
The Tenth Man
by Graham Greene
Goodbye, Columbus by Philip Roth
Goodbye, Columbus
by Philip Roth
The Shadow Over Innsmouth by H.P. Lovecraft
The Shadow Over Innsmouth
by H.P. Lovecraft
The Photograph by Penelope Lively
The Photograph
by Penelope Lively
Shopgirl by Steve Martin
Shopgirl
by Steve Martin
Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O’Nan
Last Night at the Lobster
by Stewart O’Nan
The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon
The Crying of Lot 49
by Thomas Pynchon
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Ethan Frome
by Edith Wharton
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
A Clockwork Orange
by Anthony Burgess
Fly Away Peter by David Malouf
Fly Away Peter
by David Malouf
Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx
Brokeback Mountain
by Annie Proulx
The Sense of An Ending by Julian Barnes
The Sense of An Ending
by Julian Barnes
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
I Am Legend
by Richard Matheson
Black Water by Joyce Carol Oates
Black Water
by Joyce Carol Oates
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Heart of Darkness
by Joseph Conrad
Something Special: A Story by Iris Murdoch
Something Special: A Story
by Iris Murdoch
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The Alchemist
by Paulo Coelho
Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
Kitchen
by Banana Yoshimoto
Pafko at the Wall by Don DeLillo
Pafko at the Wall
by Don DeLillo
We The Animals by Justin Torres
We The Animals
by Justin Torres
Candide by Voltaire
Candide
by Voltaire

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
The Old Man and the Sea
by Ernest Hemingway

 

 

What's your favourite novella, fella?


But don't stop there...




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