2020 is fast approaching, and with this decade coming to a close many of us book lovers may be struggling to accomplish our reading goals for the year. The best way to still meet your goal before the year is up is to stick with shorter books, more specifically books under 300 pages. Whether you were striving to read one book or one hundred books, here are seven must-read novels under 300 pages that I recommend to help you reach your goals!
"If she was not a woman... she would be king."
She Would Be King is an incredible debut novel blending history with magical realism to tell the story of Liberia's creation. It follows three main characters, one from Jamaica, one from Virginia, and one from Africa, all of whom have a special ability that makes them different from everyone else. But don’t get caught up in the “magical” side of the novel, because this story is so much more than that. It is a hauntingly beautiful tale of the black experience through slavery, and the founding of Liberia, and features a truly unforgettable narrator. It is not to be missed.
"A house that was not a house and a dream that was no dream at all."
In her memoir, Carmen Maria Machado details her experience with domestic abuse as a queer woman, specifically as a Lesbian. It is a powerful story in which she loses herself, questions everything, and eventually finds her “plot twist.” In The Dream House is one of the most captivating books I have ever experienced. This is mainly due to Machado’s voice, which is so unique and beautiful even as it tells such a terrifying tale. If you’re looking for a quick non-fiction book that reads similar to a fiction novel, this might just be the book for you.
“My last night of childhood began with a visit home.”
Bloodchild and Other Stories is a collection of short stories by the incredible miss Octavia E. Butler. Butler is most known for her science fiction novels and has won both the Hugo and Nebula awards. This short story collection easily holds its own against any of her full length novels. The raw stories told throughout are so thought provoking that even non sci-fi readers would enjoy them. This collection also features two of Butler’s essays in which she discusses the difficulties she faced as a black woman working in a predominantly white field, as well as some advice on writing your own literary masterpiece.
"For us, the places we went were home. We didn't care if they were good or evil or neutral or what. We cared about the fact that for the first time we didn't have to pretend to be something we weren't. We just got to be. That made all the difference in the world."
If you enjoyed the above quote, there’s hundreds more where that came from. Every Heart A Doorway is a magical tale, full of lyrical writing and amazing representation packed into just 173 pages. It is dark and gritty; a story about all the children who have ever felt different. The main characters have escaped their harsh realities by walking through a doorway, falling down a rabbit hole, or vanishing into a wardrobe. Now they’re back in the real world, in a home for wayward children, trying to cope with the loss of their own little worlds. Each installment of this series is under 300 pages so this very well could be the next series you binge read.
“If my father wasn’t my father, who was my father? If my father wasn’t my father, who was I?”
A moving memoir in which the author discusses the moment she discovered the unexpected; her father was not actually her father and everything she’s ever known, has been a lie. Shapiro’s journey of self discovery is not to be missed. Follow her as she takes a DNA test, learns her biological father’s name, contemplates her own parents’ motives, and learns what “family” really means. A fast, personal read that can easily be finished in one sitting.
“We prefer to explore the universe by traveling inward, as opposed to outward.”
Winner of the Hugo and Nebula award, Binti is the first novella in a Sci-Fi trilogy. It is an imaginative, fast-paced read about a girl who decides that her dreams are worth chasing. Binti follows the journey of the titular character as she leaves her family (and their dreams for her) behind and becomes the first Himba student at the best university in the galaxy. Soon, she realizes that she’ll need to draw on her people’s cultural to solve a bigger problem. It is a wonderful story of acceptance told in just under 100 pages. Perfect for a last minute read!
“Forgetting was not the same as healing.”
If you are familiar with the band called “clipping,” then you may recognize some of the authors’ names, as well as the title of this book. The Deep is a novella based on a song of the same name and performed by Diggs, Hutson, and Snipes. It is a story about sea-dwelling creatures who are descendents of the pregnant African woman thrown overboard by slavers during the slave trade. It isn’t just a story about “mermaids;” it is a story about memory, history, and survival. This short novel will resonate with you long after you’ve finished it.
I hope this list helps you reach all of your reading goals. Happy reading!
Cassidy has been a bookseller for two and a half years. She first started working at the Strand Bookstore in NYC before she moved upstate and started working at Northshire. Her favorite genres are Fantasy and Young Adult, but will branch out occasionally.
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