Last quarter of the year! And for those of you who are sweating like me with the fear of not achieving the set reading goals, I have an idea. Whatever your goal was, let’s tweak those TBRs and replace the full-length hefty novels with some lifesaver Novellas at this point. Fewer pages to read, pacey narratives and we are set for the New Year with a cheerful contented smile.
A novella is a fiction which is shorter in length as compared to a novel but longer than a short story, say about 100-150 pages. The English word ‘novella’ is derived from the Italian novella, feminine of novello, which means “new”. Novellas, in general focus on a single central conflict with unity of time and place, thus it is fast-paced.
I am writing about six novellas that you can include in these three months and if you love them, I can probably come up with a similar list of sorts. Each of these novellas is a perfect read for a weekend and some you can just gulp it down in a single sitting, considering they are honestly unputdownable.
1. Black Water by Joyce Carol Oates
As Kelly is drowning, she hallucinates her past, thinks about an alternate future, and reminisces on uncertain possibilities. I had not heard of the Chappaquiddick incident before this book so if you have, this novella builds on the premise of the Senator and a young lady leaving a party and their fate with a reckless accident. Joyce writes from the woman’s perceptive, as Kelly is inside the car, struggling for pockets of air and the Senator has saved himself from drowning. The narrative delves deep into the human psyche, vulnerability, and fear.
2. The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald
Florence Green is a kindhearted widow who wishes to set up a bookshop in an old, abandoned house in Hardborough, a small town. There begins her struggle with the pettiness of mean-minded people and one Mrs. Gamart, an influential wealthy lady who wishes to acquire this property to turn it into an art center. Under a seemingly melancholic tone, this book weaves together a tale of courage and morals.
3. The Bear by Andrew Krivak
A charming tale that reads like a fable about the last two human beings – a father and a daughter on Earth. And yes, an element of magical realism with a bear and a puma. The strange aspect of this premise is that it isn’t so much about the apocalyptic end as it is about love, loss, and nature. You think about remnants of our past civilizations and living in harmony with nature.
4. The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
We know Penelope as the wife of Ulysses from Homer’s Odyssey. Atwood retells Penelope’s side of the story outside the overtly-hero-revered-narrative of the original book. Penelope is a queen who single-handedly raised her son and safeguarded Ithaca for twenty years until Ulysses’ return. Just as Odyssey covers Ulysses’ adventures for twenty years, I felt Penelope deserved a full-length novel and not the shorter version on her struggles to keep the suitors at bay, protect the palace, and raise Telemachus.
5. The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami
The story of a young boy who visits a library but is imprisoned by a man in the basement who is keen on having his brain. This illustrated book is innately strange and bizarre. I am sure it will not be everyone’s cup of tea, so if you enjoy dark humour you can go ahead with this one.
6. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
This book sends you on a philosophical sojourn through unmitigated chapters of your life. The Booker Prize winner book about Tony Webster in his old age, as he looks back into the past and certain realities dawn in a new light. It is a compelling read as one ponders over deepest recesses of memory and its fallibility.
You can read a review of The Sense of an Ending here.
Hope you liked the recommendations. Do write to me about the best Novellas that you have read or how you have fared in this year’s Reading Challenge so far.
I’m participating in Blogchatter’s #TBRChallenge