Home > About reading, Personal Posts, Uncategorized > Finding time to read thanks to novellas

Finding time to read thanks to novellas

January 20, 2018 Leave a comment Go to comments

When you work full time, have a family and young children, it’s not easy to find time to read. Your schedule is so packed that you think longingly of those blessed years when reading was possible. Book lovers get frustrated. This was something we shared and regretted during a girls night out and I suggested to turn to novellas. I challenged these ladies to read at least one novella per month. And I committed to spread around a list around twelve recommendations of books with less than 200 pages. In the end, I ended up with a two tiered reading cake of twenty-four novellas.

Here’s the first layer, the first challenge:

English title French title Author Country
Agostino Agostino Alberto Moravia Italy
Journey Into the Past Voyage dans le passé Stefan Zweig Austria
Doctor Glas Docteur Glas Söderberg Sweden
Beside the Sea Bord de mer Véronique Olmi France
A Slight Misunderstanding La double méprise Prosper Mérimée France
In the Dark Room Dans la chambre obscure RK Narayan India
Play It As It Lays Maria avec et sans rien Joan Didion USA
Awakenings Eveils Gaetano Gazdanov Russia
The Murderess Les petites filles et la mort Alexandros Papadiamantis Greece
In the Absence of Men En l’absence des hommes Philippe Besson France
The Road La route Jack London USA
Three Horses Trois chevaux Erri de Luca Italy

And the second one:

English title French title Author Country
Not available Le mec de la tombe d’à côté Katarina Mazetti Sweden
Alien Hearts Notre cœur Guy de Maupassant France
Not available Crimes exemplaires Max Aub Mexico
The Bookshop L’affaire Lolita Penelope Fitzgerald UK
Rendezvous in Venice Le rendez-vous de Venise Philippe Beaussant France
Cheese Fromage Willem Elschott Belgium
The Man Who Walked to the Moon L’homme qui marchait sur la lune Howard McCord USA
Princess Ligovskaia La Princesse Ligovskoï Lermontov Russia
Not available Aline C-F Ramuz Switzerland
Fame Gloire Daniel Kehlman Austria
Not available Teen Spirit Virginie Despentes France
Not available Je dénonce l’humanité Férenc Karinthy Hungary

Pick and miw is allowed, of course. I thought I’d share the lists in the hope that it might helped other readers pressed with time. It might be an opportunity to discover good novels and new writers. And I hope they’ll have the impression that they keep in touch with books and literature, even if they have limited time for it.

What you do do when life eats up your reading time?

  1. January 20, 2018 at 6:50 pm

    Great ideas! I never go anywhere with out my kindle, and I pull it out when ever I have a moment to spare. But there’s never really enough time, is there?


    • January 21, 2018 at 10:14 am

      Same here. I always have my kindle on me and I tend to read everywhere. I also joke and say that readers are the most patient people in waiting lines because it’s just another opportunity to read, right?
      But not everyone is able to shut the world out like this and read on the spot.

      Liked by 1 person

      • January 21, 2018 at 10:07 pm

        Yes! It’s so true! I actually like when I find myself having to wait somewhere because it means I get to read. The DMV? My happy place! Take as long as you want!


        • January 25, 2018 at 10:09 pm

          That’s me too!


  2. January 20, 2018 at 7:25 pm

    I’m on the middle of a set of night shifts they take my reading time I’m very tired


    • January 21, 2018 at 10:18 am

      I imagine that must be tough on your sleeping routine and get you tired.


  3. January 20, 2018 at 7:43 pm

    There’s a lot of good titles there, and I think novellas are a practical suggestion.


    • January 21, 2018 at 10:16 am

      There are quite a few on this list that you’ve already read.
      I think that novellas are a good way to FINISH one book within a month when you’re on time constraint or too exhausted to read at night. It’s to disheartening otherwise.


      • January 21, 2018 at 6:47 pm

        I agree. It’s disheartening to try and read a 600 page Victorian (or otherwise) when you can only read a couple of pages a day.


        • January 21, 2018 at 9:21 pm

          Yes, I’ve been there when the kids were younger and I would just collapse at night.


  4. January 20, 2018 at 9:01 pm

    Short stories are always a good option, but these all sound a great idea!


    • January 21, 2018 at 10:21 am

      You’re right about short stories but not everybody enjoys them.
      Sometimes I have a hard time finding the right pace to read a collection of short stories. Too much time between the stories and I lose the feeling of the collection and why they’re been put together, not enough time between stories and they all blend in a multicolor soup.

      Liked by 1 person

      • January 22, 2018 at 12:31 am

        I’m one of those that can’t get on with short stories. If I spread them out then I forget what the first one was about but if I read them all in one go they blend too much into one


        • January 25, 2018 at 10:10 pm

          It’s hard to find the right time and right rythm to read a collection of short stories, at least for me.


  5. Jonathan
    January 20, 2018 at 9:35 pm

    I tend to prefer novellas and short stories over novels but I find that I really want to read short stories in one visit and novellas in one or two visits whereas when I read a novel I’m content to dip into it whenever I can. So I find short stories are great when I’m short of time and, counter-intuitively perhaps, novels as well. I tend to leave novellas for when I have the time to read them in one or two visits; so, although I like them I find them more problematic when I have little time. I don’t want to put you off your challenge though, honest! 🙂


    • January 25, 2018 at 10:13 pm

      Very sorry for the slow answer, Jonathan.

      I see your point. That’s the beauty of novellas: they can be read in one or two sittings. Perfect for a two hours train ride to Paris from Lyon, where all these ladies live.
      Put one business trip in the month, a few hours stolen here and there and poof, the novella is read!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. January 21, 2018 at 4:07 am

    My first love is the novel, but I do like novellas as well. I’m actually reading one on your list at the moment: En l’absence des hommes. Slowly of course, because it’s in French, but I’ve taken to having it in my bag and reading it in waiting rooms, without a dictionary, which even though some words confound me, I’m finding a much better way to read it than at home where it’s too easy to reach for help instead of having to use context to work things out.


    • January 21, 2018 at 10:24 am

      I really enjoy novellas and only skilled authors write them well. It’s a special skill to put so much in less than 200 pages. Doctor Glas is the perfect example of this.
      I hope you’re enjoying the ride of En l’absence des hommes. I loved it.


  7. January 21, 2018 at 2:07 pm

    If I could recommend one Australian novella it would be Jane Rawson’s Formaldehyde from a couple of years ago. From the authors on your list I have read a little Stefan Zweig (and find him a bit stilted) but would love to read the Jack London of which I have not previously heard.


    • January 21, 2018 at 6:42 pm

      Thanks for the recommendation.
      Since you’re interested in women’s condition, my recommendation to you from this list would be The Murderess by Papadiamantis and The Dark Room by RK Narayan.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. January 23, 2018 at 5:35 pm

    I’ll taste some of these novellas


    • January 25, 2018 at 10:14 pm

      There are some good ones here. Let me know which ones you tried if you get to one of them. (Or I’ll see your billet on your blog anyway)


      • January 26, 2018 at 8:29 pm

        Awesome, i was looking for Férenc Karinthy (the last one of the list) . I didn’t find ‘Je dénonce l’humanité’ but i found at the library ‘Epépé’…. It’s a wonderful discovery.


        • January 27, 2018 at 5:26 pm

          I have Epépé on the shelf, I didn’t have time to get to it yet but it sounds very good.

          Liked by 1 person

  9. papagnello
    January 24, 2018 at 4:21 pm

    Cesar Aira. An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter.

    Denis Johnson. Train Dreams.


    • January 25, 2018 at 10:15 pm

      Thanks for the recommendations.


  10. January 24, 2018 at 6:08 pm

    I tend to read more novellas. I made a similar list a few years back 20 under 200 or so.
    I wanted to turn it into a series, maybe I will. For myself. I sometimes forget how many are on my piles. I also have a few of yours and have read some. But there’s more to explore on your list.


    • January 25, 2018 at 10:16 pm

      Thanks Caroline. The more I read, the more I appreciate short but meaningful books.
      Which ones would you like to explore?


  11. January 24, 2018 at 8:17 pm

    I’m pretty busy at work presently so I may nab some of your suggestions. Like you and others I’ve taken to using my kindle more as it’s to hand. Otherwise, when tired I read more crime and SF frankly since it’s easier. I’ll be leaving comments on a couple of Guy’s reviews where I won’t have time to write up my own but followed up on some books from there.

    It’s a thing. We all have our bills to pay and other commitments and sometimes that means having to juggle or let other stuff slide for a bit. I like your novella solution.


    • January 25, 2018 at 10:18 pm

      I like crime fiction when I’m tired and overworked too. But it has to be in French, otherwise it requires to much energy.
      SF is not my thing but I can understand why it’s good to unwind.

      Let me know if you try one book or the other from this list.

      Good luck with the workload and take care.


  12. May 8, 2018 at 10:57 pm

    Some great sounding reads here! As someone who really enjoys novellas I’ll certainly be returning to your list many times for suggestions. The Bookshop and Journey into the Past will both be featuring as part of my Novella a Day in May series 🙂


  1. February 1, 2018 at 5:49 pm
  2. May 13, 2018 at 6:29 pm

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