One-Minute Book Reviews

August 24, 2007

Good Books With Under 200 Pages for Reading Groups and Others

Filed under: Nonfiction,Novels,Poetry — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 8:44 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Looking for a short but worthy book to read on your own or with a group? Here are some suggestions. A link follows the description if a review or reading guide has appeared on One-Minute Book Reviews.

Born Twice (Vintage, 192 pp., $13, paperback), by Guiseppe Pontiggia. Translated by Oonagh Stransky.
One of the great modern novels about fatherhood and a winner of the Strega Prize, the highest literary honor in Italy. Review and reading group guide (separate posts on the same day):

Hotel du Lac (Vintage, 192 pp., $13, paperback), by Anita Brookner.
A suspenseful and psychologically complex Booker Prize-winner about a 39-year-old English bride-to-be who walks away from her wedding at the last minute and, as Anne Tyler wrote, finds “a nonromantic, wryly realistic appreciation of her single state.”

How This Night Is Different: Stories (Free Press, 198 pp., $18) by Elisa Albert.
A sharp, funny and often bawdy collection of 10 stories, each of which focuses on a different Jewish tradition, including a seder, bat mitzvah, and packaged tour of Auschwitz. Review:

The Adversary: A True Story of Monstrous Deception (Picador, 191 pp., $13), by Emmanuel Carrère. Translated by Linda Coverdale.
An elegant true crime story that lays bare the double life of an ordinary man and pillar of respectability who murdered his wife, children and parents.

I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman (Knopf, 137 pp., $24.95), by Nora Ephron.
Witty essays about growing older by the author of Heartburn and Sleepless in Seattle. Review: and reading group guide

My Misspent Youth: Essays (Open City, 77 pp. $14, paperback), by Meghan Daum
A young author’s acerbic essays on Internet dating, her slide into credit-card debt, and other topics, collected in a paperback published before her comic novel, The Quality of Life Report.

Late Wife: Poems (Louisiana State University Press, 54 pp., $16.95, paperback), by Claudia Emerson.
An exceptionally fine collection of poems about divorce and remarriage that won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Review:

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.


  1. Thank you for these suggestions! Some of the members in one of my two book clubs prefer shorter books – although surprisingly, most have been longer than that! Two that we liked were “Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress: A Novel” by Dai Sijie (192 pages), and “The Persian Pickle Club” by Sandra Dallas (196 pages). We also enjoyed a pair of graphic novels, “Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood” (160 pages) and “Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return” (192 pages), both autobiography/memoir by Marjane Satrapi about her childhood and youth in Iran during the Islamic Revolution.

    Comment by speedytexaslibrarian — August 24, 2007 @ 5:28 pm | Reply

  2. Reading graphic novels in book clubs — what a great idea! I’d bet most groups have never done one, yet so many are looking for ways to keep their lists fresh. You’ve given them an ideal solution. And I hope some book clubs will take it seriously as they’re drawing up their fall lists. I haven’t read either of the graphic novels you mentioned, but they both sound fascinating.

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — August 24, 2007 @ 8:39 pm | Reply

  3. This book club formed because we all had children in the same class for a number of years…and when they hit middle school, suddenly there were far less field trips to drive on and other school volunteer work, but we still wanted to get together! We chose to do these two graphic novels partly because that genre was popular with our then-teens-at-the-time.

    The Persepolis books were very manageable for our age 40+ group. I’d be happy to send you my two copies (payback time!).

    Comment by speedytexaslibrarian — August 24, 2007 @ 9:22 pm | Reply

  4. Thank you for the great post. I’m going to use it as inspiration for creating a brochure at my library. A couple of my favorites: The Stones Cry Out by Hikaru Okuizumi (138) which won the Akutagawa Prize, one of Japan’s highest literary awards is about a former soldier haunted by his experiences who channels his obsession into amateur geology. Beast of No Nation by Uzodinma Iweala (142) is about a young African boy forced to become a guerilla after his village is slaughtered. They are both dark, but hopeful.

    Comment by Laura — September 4, 2007 @ 3:29 pm | Reply

  5. Thank you for adding the great diversity to this list! I always try, on lists like this, to look beyond American authors and include some other countries, too. And I love that you added books from Japan and Africa (or at least about Africa if Iweala was not born there).

    Jean Webster’s classic comic novel, “Daddy-Long-Legs,” which I reviewed today (Sept. 4) also has fewer than 200 pages. Two other good short novels or novellas are Thomas Mann’s “Death in Venice” and Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” (which I plan to include on a later list of this sort).

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — September 4, 2007 @ 8:19 pm | Reply

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