10 Great Books Under 300 Pages (Short & Amazing)

Short books have always had a special place in my heart. Yes, you can read them very quickly and they’re excellent for getting you out of a reading slump or helping you reach your reading goals at the end of the year. 

But there’s also something masterful about being able to tell a full story, a good story, in as few words as possible. 

So, whether you’re a fan of short books like me, fighting a reading slump or want something quick to add to your Goodreads Reading Challenge to get those confetti flying, these are the best books for you. 

1. All The Lovers in The Night by Mieko Kawakami

Great Books Under 300 Pages

All of Mieko Kawakami’s books are short and quick to read, but All The Lovers in The Night is my favorite. It tells a story about a copy editor who works from home and struggles to form relationships with other people as she decides to change her life. With that, painful things from her past start surfacing. 

This book only has 224 pages, but a wealth of themes: loneliness, memory, the choices we make, women and their lives, detachment, light, and so much more. The writing is beautiful as well; at first, however, you may find yourself distant from All The Lovers in The Night simply because the story is told from first POV, and Fuyuko is herself quite distant from everything happening to her. 

But soon enough, you’ll be completely wrapped up in this novel, and you’ll find yourself thinking about it long after you’re done. And hey, if you’re looking for other short books, check out this author’s other works: Heaven, Breasts and Eggs, and Ms. Ice Sandwich.

“I was so scared of being hurt that I’d done nothing. I was so scared of failing, of being hurt, that I chose nothing. I did nothing.”

All The Lovers in The Night by Mieko Kawakami

2. Normal People by Sally Rooney

Great Books Under 300 Pages

Normal People is probably one of my favorite books ever with one of my favorite male characters in literature as well. It follows Connel and Marianne who form a relationship in high school which Connel wants to keep hidden because he’s ashamed of being with her and thinks his friends would judge him. Over time, Connel and Marianne meet again, as lovers or strangers or friends, but they’re never far from each other’s lives. 

With only 273 pages, it manages to tell an expansive story of two lives that intertwine and influence one another in expected and unexpected ways. Both of them have their own struggles, which are at the same time similar and not the same at all. 

Many people hate this book because they see it as a romance, and the main plot being miscommunication; but, firstly, it is not a romance. And secondly, once you get to know these characters, the miscommunication makes more sense than them actually talking. 

What struck me, personally, the most, is the way Connel’s struggle with depression and feeling less worthy than everyone is described. It’s quite rare to get such a tender, gentle look at male mental illness and I could relate to it so much. 

“All these years, they’ve been like two little plants sharing the same plot of soil, growing around one another, contorting to make room, taking certain unlikely positions.”

Normal People by Sally Rooney

3. Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

Great Books Under 300 Pages

At only 118 pages, Small Things Like These is a poignant tale of a community, how it’s controlled by the church, how people look away to keep themselves safe, memory, and empathy. It follows Bill Furlong, a coal merchant during Christmas time in a small and relatively poor town. As he spends time with his family and delivers wood and coal, he thinks about his past, and also about the present, his daughters and the girls who live at the church. 

The book itself is beautifully written, perfect for cold weather — but it’s also disturbing and will make you think a lot about your own life and the choices you make. You can read my full review here, where I did go into some things that bothered me about it. 

However, it’s quite a short book, almost a short story, so you should give it a go and form your own opinion on it. 

“Always it was the same, Furlong thought; always they carried mechanically on without pause, to the next job at hand. What would life be like, he wondered, if they were given time to think and reflect over things? Might their lives be different or much the same – or would they just lose the run of themselves?”

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

4. Less by Andrew Sean Greer

Great Books Under 300 Pages

If you need something funny, but at the same time heart-breaking, here’s the perfect book for you. Less follows Arthur Less, a somewhat failing writer whose lover is getting married. Once he gets an invitation to the wedding, he takes up any and all literary invitations he got and previously ignored from around the world and starts his journey. 

Less has only 273 pages but it manages to cram so much into it — several countries, a history of one man’s life, love, loneliness, aging, memory, friendship, creativity and a lot more. Less himself is clumsy, quite a caricature of an American abroad, but he manages to also be charming and learns a lot from everything that happens to him. 

It’s written from a point of view of an outsider, someone observing Less as he ambles through his life, and it’s a bit of a mystery as to who this person is — they have equal amounts of love and criticism for Less, but it all becomes clear in the end. 

“It is, after all, almost a miracle they are here. Not because they’ve survived the booze, the hashish, the migraines. Not that at all. It’s that they’ve survived everything in life, humiliations and disappointments and heartaches and missed opportunities, bad dads and bad jobs and bad sex and bad drugs, all the trips and mistakes and face-plants of life, to have made it to fifty and to have made it here: to this frosted-cake landscape, these mountains of gold, the little table they can now see sitting on the dune, set with olives and pita and glasses and wine chilling on ice, with the sun waiting more impatiently than any camel for their arrival. So, yes. As with almost any sunset, but with this one in particular: shut the fuck up.”

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

5. Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enríquez

Great Books Under 300 Pages

This is a collection of short stories that are part horror, part social criticism, but definitely unsettling. It’s only 208 pages long, but with the short story format, you can read it in bite-sized chunks and end up very satisfied. 

Since they’re short stories, I can’t really go into them without spoiling them, so just be warned that there are unruly, obsessed teenage girls, witches, baby ghosts, and much more. It’s morbid and questioning, tender and kind, exciting and very hard to put down. I’d say just give it a go and see how you like it.

“And now you can’t smoke in bars. Yeah, I know that’s happening everywhere, but a bar isn’t supposed to be a healthy place, goddammit. It’s a place you go to scheme, to relax, to get wasted. But not here.” 

Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enríquez

6. Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson

Open Water is a book that touched me deeply, in ways that I’m still learning to comprehend. It sits at only 145 pages, but the story within expands way beyond. On the surface, it follows a man and a woman as they fall in love (or perhaps, find safety in each other), but it’s also about race and how Black bodies are perceived, about music and family and friends, and masculinity. 

The passage below is probably one of my favorite quotes from any book — if you have younger siblings, please give it a read and tell me it doesn’t exactly put into words the kind of relationship that forms. Also, see how beautiful the writing is: it’s lyrical, sensual, so touching and abstract at times, but very rooted in reality at the same time. 

It’s told in second person POV, addressed to “you” (the reader, the woman he falls in love with), and it’s quite difficult to get it right, yet this author somehow manages it perfectly. 

“This is your brother, partner in crime, stubborn opponent, gentle man. And on other days, like today, in the same phone conversation, when the laughter broke and you could hear him gulping for air, could hear the panic in his body trying to rise, could hear the tears, and he asked you to help him, to care for him, which wasn’t a problem, is never a problem, except you have been doing it for years, especially when your father’s love failed, when your father was far, in body or in spirit, and the responsibility fell to you, without much choice, and it was hard, difficult for a child to take care of himself and another, impossible to do without one or other being neglected, on other days, like today, you’re reminded the distance is long and hard. This is your brother, your charge, your duty, your son.”

7.  Elena Knows by Claudia Piñeiro

Elena Knows is a very short book (counting only 143 pages) that will stay with you for a very long time. It even made my list of favorite books of the year. 

The story itself follows an elderly woman named Elena who has Parkinson’s. Her daughter committed suicide a few months ago, but Elena firmly believes her daughter wouldn’t do that. Since no one believes her or wants to investigate, she sets out on a journey through her city to find the one person who she believes has to help. 

This book opens with Elena waiting for her medicine to start working so she can finally move and leave the house — this entire book is sectioned so we follow her medicine intake schedule. If she doesn’t take it, her body stops moving. And that is one of the most harrowing parts of her story: how debilitating her illness is, how claustrophobic she feels when her mental faculties are intact but her body won’t listen. 

However, illness isn’t the only theme in this book. It’s also about caregivers and the mental impact this can have on them, about religion and how it controls women, about perception and how well we know those closest to us. 

“What’s left of you when your arm can’t even put on a jacket and your leg can’t even take a step and your neck can’t straighten up enough to let you show your face to the world, what’s left? Are you your brain, which keeps sending out orders that won’t be followed? Or are you the thought itself, something that can’t be seen or touched beyond that furrowed organ guarded inside the cranium like a trove?”

8. Half a Soul by Olivia Atwater

Half a Soul is a regency fantasy romance that follows a heroine whose soul was cut in two and a faerie took a part of it away. She struggles with feeling emotions properly or dealing with social situations. Her cousin is determined to help her so she convinces her mother to take them to the big city under the guise of finding good husbands. And there, our heroine meets Lord Sorcier who decides to help her.

It’s truly a lovely, cozy story. Technically, it’s 304 pages but when you remove the acknowledgments and all the extra pages that books usually have, it still fits the description of a short book. Plus, the pacing and the plot are so quick and flow so well that it will feel even shorter. 

The romance in this one is sweet and so swoony. Plus, we have a very unlikely and unusual heroine, with a love interest that actually deserves that title. 

“There is such a thing as evil in this world,” Elias told her quietly. “It does not help to look away from it. It does not even help, necessarily, to look at it.” His fingers brushed through her hair, and she shivered. “But sometimes, when you cannot force the world to come to its senses, you must settle only for wiping away some of the small evils in front of you.”

9. Nettle and Bone by T. Kingfisher

A list like this has to include a little something for fantasy readers as well. And Nettle and Bone is the perfect book for that. It’s only 245 pages, which is incredibly short for a fantasy novel. However, the author does a wonderful job of fitting a great, beautiful story within that length. 

Nettle and Bone follows Marra who is on her way to becoming a nun. She’s the third daughter of a king, overlooked, not pretty or important enough, well into her thirties. She lives a peaceful and happy life in the convent but then learns that her sister (who married another, very cruel king) is in danger and she takes off on a journey to save her. 

In it, she meets a demon-possessed chicken, a bone dog, a witch, a very handsome knight, and a fairy godmother (who isn’t that good at her job). Together, this unlikely group will attempt to save Marra’s sister and with it the entire kingdom. 

This is an incredibly funny story, but also dark and horror-ish in certain aspects. If you’re tired of same old typical fantasy books, this is the perfect one to cleanse your palate and maybe show you a different sort of heroine. 

You’ll find quotes like these: 

If I were a man, I would fight him. If she were a man, no one would force Kania to try to bear child after child. If I were a man, I would not be the next in line to be married if he kills her. If we were men… She stared at her fingers curled into the dirt. It did not matter. They were not and the history of the world was written in women’s wombs and women’s blood and she would never be allowed to change it.

Rage shivered through her, a rage that seemed like it could topple the halls of heaven, then vanished under the knowledge of her own helplessness. Rage was only useful if you were allowed to do anything with it.”

But also quotes like these: 

“How did you get a demon in your chicken?’

‘The usual way. Couldn’t put it in the rooster. That’s how you get basilisks.”

10. And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman

This is a very short book (with a really long name) that will break your heart and make you feel more than some books could in a thousand pages. It has 97 pages, but it’s also illustrated so in reality, it’s much shorter. And every single one of those pages will make you cry. I can’t even think about it without being on the verge of tears. 

It’s not that it’s sad — though it is — but it’s that explores so many emotions, so many memories and feelings and there is so much love in it, multi-generational love between father and son and grandson. 

The basic plot, you could say, is a man with Alzheimer’s who is slowly losing his memories. His son and grandson are with him, but the story is not told in any linear way. I don’t know how to describe it well and do it justice, so I’ll just say please read it. It’s more than worth it. 

“It hurts less and less. That’s one thing about forgetting things. You forget things that hurt too.”

Additional Recommendations of Very Short Books (That I Have Not Read Yet but Plan on Reading)

  • On Earth, We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong (246 pages)
  • I Who Have Never Known Men by Jacqueline Harpman (208 pages)
  • Red at The Bone by Jacqueline Woodson (196 pages)
  • This is How You Lose a Time War by Amal El-Mohtar (209 pages)

Final Thoughts

Short books are a treasure of their own, and these are some of my favorites. And if you’re interested in trying classic literature, but want something short and easy, check out my list of best classics for people who don’t like them. Most of the books on that list are short, and definitely worth reading. 

Do you have any short book recommendations? Or did you read and love any of these? Leave your thoughts in the comments below! 

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