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The 8 Best Pieces of Classic Literature that are Under 100 Pages

By Edited May 28, 2015 4 5

In this age of technology where a 2-minute YouTube videos seem too long and conversations have capped themselves at 140 characters, it's pretty clear that the average attention span is waning. For those who have an interesting in classic literature, it can be a daunting task with all those occasionally over worded Russian tomes and English tales that are so complex they are a stone's throw away from another language. For those who don't have a lot of time or a lot of patience, there are plenty of classic literature pieces that readers can both enjoy and crush in just a few hours. Those looking for a good read should give these under 100-page classics a try.


Bartleby, The Scrivener by Herman Melville

Although he authored one of the most famous, and arguably best, novels ever written, Moby Dick was not the only great thing that Herman Melville wrote in his life. Of course, all Melville's other works, especially his short stories, are vastly eclipsed by Moby Dick, but there is at least one worth a read. Bartleby, The Scrivener has a surprisingly modern application as it follows a man that functions as a cog in the corporate machine. One day, he, as we all would like to, tells his boss he would prefer not to do work. The story is a short one, but leaves a powerful impact. Today, everyone interprets it in their own way. Some find it a critique on corporate culture, while others see it as the personification of depression. As for what it really says, I guess that's up to you.

the call of the wild

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

Occasionally confused as a children's book (usually due to the inclusion of large print and pictures in most copies), The Call of the Wild by Jack London is indeed an excellent book that appeals to readers of all ages. From those who crave a little more adventure in their life to just plain and simple animal lovers, The Call of the Wild presents a poignant, heart-breaking but infinitely real story about a dog named Buck who goes from reigning supreme on a ranch in the Santa Clara Valley to the harsh extremes of being a sled dog in the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush.

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

The Metamorphosis
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Not only is The Metamorphosis one of the best books under 100 pages, it is considered one of the best books of all time in many literary circles. Published in 1915, The Metamorphosis is weird. So weird that this particular weirdness has come to be known as Kafka-esque, but it's the strangely simplicity of it that leads to quite a fascinating tale. As for the story, it follows the main character after he has awakened to find himself transformed into an insect and learns to adapt with what has happened without really delving into why. Kafka is one of those famous authors that people just know without ever really reading his work, but those who want to get a little taste of Kafka, The Metamorphosis can provide in a big way.
i remain in darkness

I Remain in Darkness by Annie Ernaux

While most readers have heard of Kafka or Melville, it is likely not many have heard of Ernaux. This French writer has been churning out small, but powerful books for the last 30 years, yet fails to be recognized among many readers. This is likely because she's a bit too much of a Debbie Downer to be included in the usual high school reading list. One of Ernaux's hardest gut-punchers is I Remain in Darkness. This part-story, part-memoir, part-journal details the narrator's loss of her mother and makes the attempt to tackle how we struggle with accepting things that we just can't accept. It's tiny, but easily one of the most haunting books that readers will ever pick up.

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

The Turn of the Screw (Dover Thrift Editions)
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For horror fans, The Turn of the Screw is living proof that horror stories don't need to have gratuitous gore and ghost stories don't need rattling chains, demons or plot twists to be scary. The story follows a governess and the two children under her care in the English countryside. At first everything seems normal until the ghost of the previous governess and her lover start to appear before those that live in the house. Slowly, but surely, the tale weaves a spell of intense psychological terror that proves that sometimes the most terrifying things are those that are never fully explained.
the most dangerous game

The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell

While bookworms may have never read The Most Dangerous Game, it is very likely that they have seen it referred to in some sort of other media. From American Dad to The Simpsons all the way to CW's Supernatural, The Most Dangerous Game has had its plot as well as its key themes integrated into much of mainstream media. The story is a simple one of the hunter and the hunted, but the animal in question happens to be man himself. Throughout the journey of the hunter's prey trying to elude his pursuer, the book explores the weighty issues of morality and instincts in what is one of the most powerful and entertaining short stories ever written whose brevity is sure to leave readers wanting more.

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin A. Abbott

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions (Dover Thrift Editions)
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One of the best ways to make a short story the most memorable short story of all time is to make it so utterly original that everyone has to take notice. "Utterly original" - it's really the best way to describe Flatland. The story of Flatland is a social satire that uses two-dimensional shapes as characters and to divide them in different classes. When one of the flatlanders discovers Spaceland - another dimension that where shapes take new forms - he undergoes the tough and nearly impossible task of convincing others of what he has seen. It is crazily original, yet deeply understandable.
dr jekyll mr hyde

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Although famous, most people have never actually read The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, rather they just know a brief overview of it. This particular tale presents one of the oldest stories of all time, the battle of good versus evil. This plot has filled books ten times the size of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and yet there are few better told tales of it. When one man is both good and evil, right and wrong, what happens then? In its 60 pages, the story meditates on the good self and the bad self and if one can exist without a semblance of the other.



Mar 18, 2015 7:24pm
An interesting choice of works. Some of these I have read and enjoyed, some I have been meaning to read and some I have never heard of before, so have added them to my reading list. Another short classic work that I enjoyed was Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea" but I'm not sure if it is under 100 pages or not.
Mar 18, 2015 7:34pm
Unfortunately, The Old Man and the Sea was just over by 20-ish pages, but I so did want to include it. I was similarly broken up that I couldn't include Hermann hesse's Siddhartha as that still stands as one of my favorite books of all time, but it is what it is.

I'm glad you enjoyed the collection I've put together!
Mar 18, 2015 7:52pm
I'm ashamed to admit that I've only read three/eighths of what you have here. But what a good, and diverse, list (and I loved "Moby Dick", except it needs a severe editing!) Big thumb's up!
Apr 21, 2015 2:27am
A great list Amerowolf! The good thing about shorter books is that they are easy to carry around. Great for some outdoor reading! Imagine "War and Peace" in paperpack, with the tiniest font you can imagine, and I still can't fit it in my purse! A very good piece, readily endorsed!
Aug 11, 2015 10:46am
We read "The Most Dangerous Game" in college. It didn't leave a big impression on me. I've heard of many of these others but not read them. I feel like I've seen a film version of the Kafka story. Bartlby sounds interesting, though. I may have to read that one.
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