What Are Some Classic Books That Can Be Read Quickly?
Posted on 30th of October, 2018

Answers

"Classics" are not a genre that you MUST read even if you don't want to, so I don't know why anyone would want to read them as quickly as possible. Having said that, I know that not everyone has the same amount of time available for reading and some classics can be a little wordy (I'm looking at you War and Peace), so here's my suggestions;

1. Die Verwandlung by Franz Kafka - I believe that outside of my country, this book is known as "The Metamorphosis" and it is quite worth the time it takes to complete it. It is a short story that can be read rather quickly. I would really recommend reading the original German novella if possible because of the unique way in which Kafka wrote his sentences. This is something that I believe the English translations are not able to fully capture. The story appears rather simple and surreal as it features a salesman who struggles to adapt to the fact that he has someone transformed into a giant insect, but there are plenty of deeper insights to mull over after reading the book.

2. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad - I'm always surprised by how many people think that Heart of Darkness is a huge book because they have seen the Francis Ford Coppola movie, Apocalypse Now, which was inspired by the book. Heart of Darkness was originally a three-part serial story that was published in some magazine, so it's really not as lenghty as many people believe. Conrad was inspired by his own travel journals when he wrote the story and the book has since been used as the inspiration for other books, films and even games. It's been included as one of the 100 best novels of the twentieth century, so I would say it definitely qualifies as a short classic.

3. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton. I'll finish things off with a book that I strongly believe is a classic, but it doesn't always get the love or recognition that it deserves. It is also only 200 odd pages long, so still qualifies as a "short "book in my opinion. Ethan Frome is not an "easy" book to read in the sense that it deals with some very harrowing elements, but it is a very compelling one. It also features a nice twist that I won't spoil, but in essence it is about a man named Ethan Frome who falls in love with his wife's cousin. Things become rather complicated because Ethan's wife is sick and her cousin takes care of her. To say anything more would ruin a good story, so read it and see if you agree with me that it is a bona fide classic.
It is funny how everyone hears the word "classic" literature and they automatically just think that the books are going to be huge and complicated. I think you would be surprised by just how many classic books are out there that are laugh out loud funny, riveting or suspenseful without you having to have a degree in literature to enjoy them. If you want to read classic books purely for the enjoyment, then I have plenty of suggestions. If, however, you simply want to read a classic book as quickly as possible in order to appear snobbish or something, then you really are better off sticking with the latest bestsellers. I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt here and assume that lack of time is your motivation for this question, so here are my suggestions.

1. Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley - 1818. There is a brand new movie about Mary Shelley coming out soon, so what better time to get acquainted with this classic book if you have not already done so. You especially need to read this book if your impression of Frankenstein's creature is that of a dumb, lumbering brute who can only growl out monosyllabic words. Popular culture has completely twisted this classic tale around to the point that think the Creature is actually called Frankenstein. The book has less than 300 pages and you get to see the experience from the perspective of Victor Frankenstein, the Creature as well as Captain Walton.

2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - 1925. With the amount of awards and nominations that this book has received, it is probably unlikely that you have not already read it. If not, and your only experience with Jay Gatsby and the object of his affection, Daisy Buchanan, is with the movies, then you must read it. It has got less than 200 pages, but the description of the Roaring Twenties is so vivid that you feel you can step into the pages and experience it for yourself. While the story doesn't feel very complex when you first read it, it is the type of book that you can read over and over to discover new meanings, which is one of the things that make it a classic in my opinion.

3. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James - 1898. I can't really say that I have a fondness for the horror genre, but I'll gladly make an exception for The Turn of the Screw. This book is a classic in every sense of the word and don't let anyone else tell you differently. It is essentially a novella, so it weighs in at less than 100 pages, but every one of them is good. Even critics have long argued whether this is really a horror story about ghosts or if the sanity of one of the characters are simply questionable. I'll leave it up to you to come to your own conclusion.

4. Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson - 1886. Like Frankenstein, this classic by Robert Louis Stevenson is a tale that everyone thinks they know, but I would wager that not that many has actually sat down and read the original story. It is a very brief tale and can be read in a single sitting, but combines elements of horror and mystery along with drama and even science fiction. In the book, a Dr named Jekyll manages to transform into an evil alter ego with the name of Mr. Hyde by using potions. He does this in an attempt to separate his good and bad sides, but it ultimately ends in tragedy. This book has less than 100 pages, so you can easily read it in a single sitting.

5. War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells - 1898. Forget the movies, forget the television shows, you can even forget the original radio drama, this novel by H. G. Wells is the real deal. I've read somewhere that this book has never been out of print, which is a true testament to its enduring popularity. It is not just one of the earliest books about aliens invading our planet, but in my opinion, still one of the very best. Oh, and it is also less than 200 pages, which qualifies as short in my opinion.

6. Animal Farm by George Orwell - 1945. I'll end off my suggestions with this classic by George Orwell, Animal Farm. Everyone can quote the "all animals are equal" line from the book, but when asked to describe more than just the basic plot outline they begin to falter. This is one of those classics that even I thought I had read until I read it again and discovered that I haven't really. It's obviously a very political book, but still very relevant and very interesting to this day. At less than 150 pages, it is also a very short book to cross off your reading list.

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