6 Great Novels You Can Read in One Day

The modern world is full of distractions. Finding the time to dedicated to plowing through a lengthy tome can be difficult—and maintaining the thread of the plot over a month or more, a challenge. Here are six books you can read in under four hours, ideal for a break no matter what kind of novel you’re working on.

Keepin’ It Classy: The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway
Time to Read: About two hours.
If you’re aspiring to read something something that says a lot about the world around us and captures a timeless quality, stick to the masters. Of course, many of the masters wrote very long books. A few classics offer quick lessons in great writing, however, and The Old Man and the Sea is perfect for two reasons. One, it’s brilliant. Two, it’s about a man struggling with something simultaneously larger and smaller than himself, something that represents more than the physical struggle depicted. Sound familiar?

For Chills: We Have Always Lived in the Castle, by Shirley Jackson
Time to Read: About two hours.
If you’re looking for something that will scare the pants off of you, get a dose of fresh terror by reading this quick, terrifying story by one of the masters. Jackson’s story of an isolated, perverse family is a slow burn of psychological oppression, a chilling character study with a plot that demands to be devoured in one big bite.

For Historical Inspiration: Flashman, by George Macdonald Fraser
Time to Read: Four hours.
Historical fiction is often lengthy by nature because of the detail required to set the scene. That’s what makes Flashman the ideal four-hour read. Macdonald never once takes his subject too seriously while displaying a sharp eye for accuracy and a real feel for his 19th century setting. If you think “historical fiction” sounds stuffy, you’ll be surprised how quickly those hours fly by.

To Get Into a Speculative Mindframe: The Lathe of Heaven, by Ursula K. Le Guin
Time to Read: About three hours.
If you’re looking for mind-blowing speculative fiction, Le Guin’s classic is the ideal way to challenge yourself. How she managed to come up with something as intriguing and mind-expanding as this story of a man who discovers that his dreams can alter reality, and do it in less than 200 pages, is anyone’s guess. To say the story doesn’t go anywhere near what you might expect is an understatement, to say the least.

To be a Kid Again: The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton
Time to Read: About three hours.
If you’re shooting for a quickly consumable young adult read, why not return to the prototypical YA drama The Outsiders? In just three hours you’ll get a master class on how to depict teen characters and tell a moving, human story at the same time. Stay gold, Ponyboy.

To Jolt Yourself Awake: Bookshots, by James Patterson
Time to Read: About 2 hours each.
Finally, if thrillers are your thing, go straight to the master, the best-selling author of the modern day: James Patterson. All of Patterson’s novels are pretty fast reads, but the books in his single-serving Bookshots series is specifically designed to be read in two hours or less. Patterson is, unsurprisingly, a genius at building a compelling thriller in a minimal page count.

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