15 Best Books Under 200 Pages Update 05/2022

Best Books Under 200 Pages

Often people say that classic books are long, but this isn’t true of all of them. In 1779, Dr. Samuel Johnson said that Paradise Lost was a book that “none ever wished…longer than it is.” As much as I love Gone with the Wind, its 1000+ pages are more than enough for me. Those are the best classic books that are also the shortest, so here’s a list of the best.

I’ve defined “short” here as “about 200 pages or less” that can be read in one sitting. I’ve also used the “canonical” definition of “classic,” but I’ve also tried to include a wide range of voices. These short classic books are great for anyone who wants to read more classics but hasn’t had the time.

Best Short Classic Books: Under 200 Pages

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

96 pages

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

This short story from 1898 is about a governess who is hired to look after two young orphans called Miles and Flora. She doesn’t have a name. Almost right away, things start to go wrong. It’s not clear how much the kids are to blame.

if I talked any longer about it, I’d spoil the whole book for you, so I’ll stop here now.

Animal Farm by George Orwell

112 pages

Animal Farm is an allegory that was written in 1945. In it, a group of animals revolt against their human farmer. In the face of avarice and selfishness, the utopian existence they try to build quickly falls apart. In his book, Orwell tries to show how the Russian Revolution and Stalin’s rule were mirrored in the book.

I read it when I was 9 years old. My grandfather, who was very well-read, sent it to me from Bangladesh, along with Silas Marner. Eliot’s short story didn’t interest me, but Orwell’s is worth reading.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

187 pages

George and Lenny are two people who move from place to place looking for work in California during the Great Depression in 1937. They keep going with the hope that one day they will own their own farm. George soon realizes that for them, the American Dream is just a dream.

This was my GCSE English text, and I’m not very excited about it. Yet somehow, I think about the characters a lot, which is why this book is on this list.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

144 pages

The movie with Leonardo DiCaprio helped this 1925 short story get even more well-deserved attention a few years ago. It’s told by Nick, a character who doesn’t have a lot of color. He watches as Jay Gatsby, a married cousin of Nick’s, tries to get to know Nick’s cousin Daisy, but he doesn’t want to. The whole thing has to end in tragedy.

Not many of the characters in this book are good. I don’t want to read any of Fitzgerald’s other books, but the vividness of 1922 New York summer is unmatched.

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass

96 pages

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass

This is a memoir written by one of the most important people in the fight against slavery, Frederick Douglass, in 1845. It tells the story of how he was a slave and how he was always abused by his owners until he was able to get out.

Again, this is a very short part of an autobiography, but it was very popular. An antislavery book sold 5000 copies in the first four months.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

166 pages

The story of Victor Frankenstein and his monster was a big hit when it was first published in 1818. It doesn’t need to be explained.

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

30 pages

This book was written in 1892, so it might be a stretch to call it one of the best classics ever written. But it is only a small glimpse into the mind of a woman who is mentally ill.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

146 pages

Jackson is best known for The Haunting of Hill House, which is a great book with 208 pages. This book should also be on this list because it is so long. She wrote a short story called We Have Always Lived in the Castle in 1962. It’s a darkly funny look at the life of Merricat Blackwood. Six years ago, most of the Blackwood family died from arsenic poisoning, and now they are all gone. In the years since, the Blackwoods have been living in fear of the villagers’ hatred. When Merricat’s cousin Charles shows up and causes problems in their lives, she wants to get rid of him.

If you like books that are very strange, this one is for you. It has characters who are just sane enough to make their madness even more frightening.

Passing by Nella Larsen

192 pages

Passing by Nella Larsen

Larsen’s book, which features childhood friends Irene and Clare, came out in 1929 during the Harlem Renaissance. A mixed-race woman named Irene comes into Clare’s life after a long time. When Clare sees Irene again, it sets off a chain of events that leads to tragic consequences.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

179 pages

This well-known book was released in 1958, and it quickly became a hit. Many “It Girls” of the 1950s claimed to be the model for Holly Golightly, the socialite whose life is the basis for the book.

The movie starring Audrey Hepburn has, of course, only made the book more popular.

Orlando: A Biography by Virginia Woolf

134 pages

Among her best-known works is 1928’s Orlando. It tells the story of Orlando, who wakes up one morning to find that he has been turned into an immortal female.

When I was reading, I found it a little hard to understand at times. I don’t like the modernist style very much. But it’s worth reading, and it’s a great (if a little weird) way to go through 300 years of history in just 100 pages.

Sula by Toni Morrison

192 pages

Sula by Toni Morrison

Morrison is best known for her book Beloved, but this 1973 short story was written a long time before it. Passing is about two childhood friends, Nel and Sula, who are forced apart by tragedy.

Chronicle of a Death Foretold by by Gabriel García Márquez, Translated by Gregory Rabassa

122 pages

The title of Márquez’s short story, “Santiago,” refers to the death of Santiago. Though everyone in his village knows that he’s going to be killed, a combination of things means that no one tells him. The book talks about how morality and responsibility get mixed up, which leads to the murder.

Candide by Voltaire

84 pages

Voltaire wrote this little book in three days. It has had a big impact on philosophy and satire, especially. Story: Candide is being taught Leibnizian optimism, which means that he thinks we live in the best world that we can. He also thinks that everything we do is for the best. But as Candide’s life gets worse and worse, he can’t believe that anymore.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

208 pages

At wartime, a plane full of schoolboys crashes on an island that isn’t even there. Cue the chaos.

The fact that this 1954 novel doesn’t have any female characters put me off when I first read it in Year 10. It’s actually a very interesting look at how civilization (in the form of adolescent males) deteriorates quickly when put in a bad situation. Realistic? Hope not. Interesting? Sure.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.