There are many classics that we are often told we must read in order to be considered “well-read” but it can be difficult to fit them all into our reading life. However, there are many that are much shorter than we may realize and can be read relatively quickly. Here are a few of those classics that come in at around 200 pages or fewer that can be crossed off our to-be-read lists much sooner than others. We may even end up with time to read Les Misérables or War and Peace. Maybe.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
Sleepy Hollow, an area within the town of Tarrytown, New York, is thought to be haunted. When schoolteacher Ichabod Crane arrives in the town he hears the many stories of ghosts making this area their home, the most famous of which is the Headless Horseman. However, he also falls in love with local girl Katrina Van Tassel, who’s also being pursued by the brawler Brom Bones. Late one night Ichabod is riding home when he comes to find out that maybe the tales of the Headless Horseman are true after all.
Flatland by Edwin Abbott Abbott
This Victorian-era satire is told from the perspective of A Square, a mathematician living in the two-dimensional world of Flatland. In this land men can have different numbers of sides depending on their social status, with those near circles being the most respected, while women are only straight lines. A Square ends up meeting many more geometric forms on a journey through other lands: Spaceland, which has three dimensions; Lineland, with only one dimension; and Pointland, which has no dimensions.
Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
A young man, Gregor Samsa, wakes one morning to find that overnight he has been transformed into a large beetle-like insect. From there he must try to find a way to adapt to his new circumstances -- even as he becomes an outsider in his own life and family and struggles with feelings of alienation, inadequacy and isolation.
The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli
This political treatise was written around five hundred years ago by a former foreign policy official in Florence in an effort to gain favor with the Medici family who had ousted him from his position. The favor was not gained but his work on how to gain and maintain political power, using the necessary tools of deception and manipulation, has endured.
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
One of the most well-known works of Hemingway, this novel tells the tale of a Cuban fisherman named Santiago. Santiago sets out one day after a long time of no luck and manages to hook a large marlin. However, his journey is just beginning as he must now struggle against the marlin as he finds a way to bring this fish back to shore with his small boat.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Guy Montag lives in a world where television rules and literature is outlawed. In his job as a fireman, he starts fires instead of putting them out, destroying books and the houses they are found in. After meeting an eccentric young neighbor, Montag starts looking around at his home, marriage, and the society he lives in, and begins to question all he has ever known.
The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie is the best-selling novelist of all time. This book is one of her 66 detective novels and the first in the series of adventures of Hercule Poirot. When Emily Inglethorpe is poisoned in her locked bedroom at Styles, her Essex estate, Poirot is brought in to discover who the perpetrator is. Was it her young husband? One of her stepsons? Or maybe it was her nurse, protégé, or the mysterious stranger living in the area? Poirot must find out the truth (and the new will she made shortly before the poisoning).