Kenneth C. Davis is right in his wheelhouse with the writing of this book. Author of Don’t Know Much About History among many other non-fiction bestsellers, Davis has set his reading glasses on short novels and novellas for his most recent work. Short novels have always fascinated me as they rarely get the credit of their longer counterparts, and Davis makes an excellent argument here for the best of them. In an age of doom scrolling and short attention spans, maybe a short, great novel is what all of us need. Perfect for the literary fan who has read everything or wants to.
A delightful, entertaining guide to some of the best short novels of all time from a bestselling historian, author, and lifelong reader.
Fall back into the joys of literature with an extraordinary book for book lovers: a compulsively readable, deeply engaging list of great short novels. A journey into short fiction designed with our contemporary attention spans in mind, Great Short Books suggests fifty-eight excellent short novels, all easily readable in a week or less—a “baker’s dozen” approach to a fun, fascinating year of reading.
From hard-boiled fiction to magical realism, the 18th century to the present day, Great Short Books spans genres, cultures, countries, and time to present an enchanting and diverse selection of acclaimed and canonical novels. From works in translation like Yu Miri’s Tokyo Ueno Station and Marguerite Duras’s The Lover to popular, acclaimed authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Stephen King, this compilation is a celebration of classics from the historic to contemporary—plus a few bestsellers. Each entry includes the novel’s opening lines, a spoiler-free plot summary, a “why you should read it” section, and suggestions for what to read next.
Just like browsing in your favorite bookstore, this eclectic collection is a fun and practical book for any passionate reader hoping to broaden their collection—or anyone who wants to find an entertaining and effortless reentry into reading.
About the Author
Kenneth C. Davis has lived a life in books. He is the New York Times bestselling author of America’s Hidden History and Don’t Know Much About History, which gave rise to his series of books and audiobooks on a range of subjects, including mythology, the Bible, geography, and the Civil War. Davis’s work has appeared in TheNew York Times, TheWashington Post, and Smithsonian magazine, among other publications. He has appeared on national television and radio shows, including CBS This Morning, Today, and NPR. He lives in the West Village of New York City with his wife, Joann Davis, a former editor and writer.
“An exciting guide to all that the world of fiction has to offer in 58 short novels — from The Great Gatsby and Lord of the Flies to the contemporary fiction of Colson Whitehead and Leïla Slimani — that, ‘like a first date,’ offer pleasure and excitement without commitment.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Anyone who’s eternally time-strapped will treasure Kenneth C. Davis’ Great Short Books. This nifty volume highlights 58 works of fiction chosen by Davis for their size (small) and impact (enormous). Davis delivers readerly insights and plenty of literary trivia in this handy guide. Outside of extra time, it’s the perfect gift for busy bibliophiles.” —BookPage
“Fulfilling his book's title, Davis offers short, encouraging essays on 58 short books, from the obvious (Animal Farm) to the surprising (Leïla Slimani’s The Perfect Nanny).” —Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Won’t your reader enjoy Great Short Books by Kenneth C. Davis this holiday? The answer is “yes”: this book is about books – specifically, more than fifty short novels by authors you know and don’t know. Wrap it up with a gift certificate to your favorite bookstore." —The Bookworm Sez
“Davis feels that novels of 200 pages or less often don't get the recognition they deserve, and this delightful book is the remedy ... Davis invites readers to venture out of their comfort zone to experience the joy of the short novel ... A must-purchase for public and school libraries." —Booklist, STARRED review
"Davis, who has written numerous books about literature and history, believes that books of less than 200 pages can be a good antidote to our troubled times and the stream of doom-laden news… his love of books and reading shines through… An entertaining journey with a fun, knowledgeable guide." —Kirkus
"Thoughtful ... Davis’s conversational tone makes him a great guide to these literary aperitifs. This is sure to leave book lovers with something new to add to their lists." —Publishers Weekly
“Great Short Books is a fascinating, thoughtful, and inspiring guide to a marvelous form of literature: the short novel. You can dip into this book anywhere you like, but I found myself reading it cover-to-cover, delighting in discovering new works while also revisiting many of my favorites. Great Short Books is itself a great book—for those who are over-scheduled but want to expand their reading and for those who will simply delight in spending time with a passionate fellow reader who on every page reminds us why we need and love to read.” —Will Schwalbe, New York Times bestselling author of The End of Your Life Book Club
“This is the book that you didn't know you really needed. I began digging into this book as soon as I got it, and it was such a delight to read beautiful prose, just a sip at a time, with Kenneth Davis' notes to give me context and help me more fully appreciate the stories. Keep this book near your bed or on your coffee table. It will be read and loved.” —Celeste Headlee, journalist and author of We Need to Talk and Speaking of Race
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