Six Nearly Perfect Short Novels

We all love a fat, juicy novel -- the kind of glorious stew that we can spend a whole rainy week of evenings inside savoring every delicious page.

But sometimes all that rich food can seem overwhelming. In those moments what we want is a fresh, sharp arugula salad (maybe with some fennel and lemon) of a novel: something clean and perfect that takes an afternoon and leaves us feeling brighter and all-together livelier.

The six novels on this page are each shorter than 200 pages and each packs a clean, brilliant punch. We think they're nearly perfect.

Staff Pick Badge
Wide Sargasso Sea By Jean Rhys, Edwidge Danticat (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Jean Rhys, Edwidge Danticat (Introduction by)
$14.95
ISBN: 9780393352566
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - January 25th, 2016

"The first day I had to go to the convent, I clung to Aunt Cora as you would cling to life if you loved it." from Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys


Staff Pick Badge
Sula (Vintage International) By Toni Morrison Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781400033430
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - June 8th, 2004

"Then summer came. A summer limp with the weight of blossomed things. Heavy sunflowers weeping over fences; iris curling and browning at the edges far away from their purple hearts; ears of corn letting their auburn hair wind down to their stalks. And the boys. The beautiful, beautiful boys who dotted the landscape like jewels, split the air with their shouts in the field, and thickened the river with their shining wet backs. Even their footsteps left a smell of smoke behind.

It was in that summer, the summer of their twelfth year, the summer of the beautiful black boys, that became skittish, frightened, and bold -- all at the same time.

In that mercury mood in July, Sula and Nel wandered about the Bottom looking for mischief." from Sula by Toni Morrison


Staff Pick Badge
A Far Cry from Kensington By Muriel Spark Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780811223027
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions - May 27th, 2014

"So great was the noise during the day that I used to lie awake at night listening to the silence. Eventually I fell asleep contented, filled with soundlessness, but while I was awake I enjoyed the experience of darkness, thought, memory, sweet anticipations. I heard the silence." from A Far Cry from Kensington by Muriel Spark


Staff Pick Badge
Red at the Bone: A Novel By Jacqueline Woodson Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780525535287
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - September 1st, 2020

"As Iris stood outside the student union, opening a letter her parents had sent -- seventy-five dollars and a picture of Melody with it -- the revelation of her pregnancy came rushing back at her. Her father's sobbing, her mother's rage, the nuns, the neighbors, and finally, their church. . . ." from Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson


Staff Pick Badge
An Apprenticeship or The Book of Pleasures By Clarice Lispector, Stefan Tobler (Translated by), Sheila Heti (Afterword by), Benjamin Moser (Series edited by) Cover Image
By Clarice Lispector, Stefan Tobler (Translated by), Sheila Heti (Afterword by), Benjamin Moser (Series edited by)
$15.95
ISBN: 9780811232210
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions - May 3rd, 2022

"But first she needed to reach herself, first she needed to reach the world." from An Apprenticeship or The Book of Pleasures by Clarice Lispector


Staff Pick Badge
The Story of a Marriage: A Novel By Andrew Sean Greer Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780312428280
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador - March 31st, 2009

"There is no room in textbooks, among all the myriad battles and treaties, for history's wives. But she said about needing extra armor to protect herself, I never forgot it. It glowed in my mind. It guided my life like a sextant." from The Story of a Marriage by Andrew Sean Greer