There’s something immensely satisfying about finishing a novel in a single day.
The thrill of changing that ‘Currently Reading’ marker to ‘Read’ on Goodreads is hard to replicate, which is why, over the years, I’ve amassed a collection of brilliant novels than can be finished in a single day. Most of them were picked for the pure purpose of catching up on my reading goal, but that hardly means they weren’t enjoyable. I’ve tried to avoid the more popular novels in this group and focus on the ones I’ve actually read and enjoyed. After all, ‘the bigger, the better’ is hardly true when it comes to fiction.
1. We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson
This sinister and bizarre novella is probably the finest piece of horror writing I’ve ever picked up. Not long ago the seven members of the Blackwood family were reduced to three when a fatal dose of arsenic was slipped into the sugar bowl during supper. Now Constance and her sister Merricat live in isolation, far away from the morbid curiosity of the villagers, until their cousin Charles comes to visit and threatens to disrupt their peace.
2. Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel García Márquez
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, one of the best magical realism authors of all time, tells this tale of surprising strength and integrity inspite of its brevity. When Angela Vicario is returned home after her wedding night as her husband claimed she lied about her virginity, her twin brothers swear to avenge the man responsible. But when everyone in town knows of a murder, and nobody tries to stop it, can the murderer alone be held responsible for the heinous crime?
3. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway’s twentieth-century classic tells the story of a Cuban fisherman and his relentless battle with a giant marlin. Barely a hundred pages long, this novel uses simple and timeless prose to discuss powerful themes of courage and personal conquest.
4. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Published in 1899, Chopin’s portrayal of women trapped in their suffocating, loveless marriages shocked readers of that time, and still continues to do so with its beautiful prose and off-hand treatment of controversial subjects. Despite its age, this American classic isn’t easy to put down.
5. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
This is probably my favourite novel on this list. Neil Gaiman’s incredible gift for storytelling and charming ability to provide insight into the deeper mysteries of humankind all come together in this brilliant book. When a middle-aged man returns to his childhood home only to find it demolished, he is inadvertently drawn to an old farm at the end of the lane, one where he uncovers a long-burried incident from his past.
6. The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie
It’s hard to go wrong with an Agatha Christie mystery, and this short read, like all others, promises to keep you engaged with Miss Marple’s enjoyable intellect and a frightening game of murder.
7. Animal Farm by George Orwell
There are very few people I’ve met who haven’t read this book already, but I’m going to include it in this list anyway. Orwell’s allegory and critique of the political climate of his time finds itself on every single classics shelf, and for good reason. If theres one book one this list I’d recommend everyone read at least once, it would be this one.
8. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Right before the earth is about to be demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is picked up by his friend Ford Prefect and finds himself in the bowels of an alien spaceship. With the help of the book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the two men and their companions find themselves on an unforgettable journey across the universe. Adams’ humour and unparalleled wit make this perhaps one of the best sci-fi books ever written.
9. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Another classic, Bradbury’s dystopian novel talks about a world where firemen exist not to put out fires, but to create them- specifically, to create ones that will burn books. But when one of these men picks up an illegal piece of literature, banned by the government for promoting free-thinking, he decides to steal it, putting him and his wife in danger of being burned along with it.
10. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
The Sense of an Ending is a book that follows a complicated timespan and an ever more complicated plot, but by the end of it you’ll be feeling nothing but elation and a queer sense of comprehension. Recent divorcee Tony Webster is surprised by the unexpected arrival of a lawyer’s letter, claiming that he is to be the benefactor of an ex-girlfriends mother, a woman he only met once in his life. On the hunt to uncover the purpose of this sudden gift, he is forced to reexamine all that he considered true about his past. The prose is brilliant, the characters complex, and the story impeccable.