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35 Brilliant Short Books Anyone Can Find The Time To Read

35 Brilliant Short Books Anyone Can Find The Time To Read

If you lead a busy life, settling down to read a book may seem unfeasible. If you’re disappointed by this, yet keen to indulge in classic literature, you can find solace in the less demanding world of novellas.

This narrative form usually consists of around 80 to 150 pages. Despite their diminutive nature, novellas have amassed many classics. They demand far less time if you have a hectic lifestyle, enabling you to discover many brilliant new authors. The following are 35 such books anyone can find the time to read.

    The Call of the Wild

    by Jack London

    London’s tale of primitive reawakening. Buck, a domesticated dog, grows increasingly wild after he is stolen from his owner. An exhilarating read.

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      Three Tales

      by Gustave Flaubert

      Flaubert’s sublime work consists of A Simple Heart, Saint Julian the Hospitalier, and Hérodia. They deal with themes of love and loneliness.

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        Different Seasons

        by Stephen King

        Four inspiring novellas from King make up Different Seasons. Two were adapted into the films Shawshank Redemption and Stand By Me.

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          Modern Classics Outsider

          by Albert Camus

          Also known as The Stranger, Camus’s classic portrays the life of Meursault. His refusal to behave according to society’s norms causes trouble, for which he is unrepentant.

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            The Wall

            by Jean-Paul Sartre
            The Wall is a gritty account of three POWs awaiting execution. The intense thoughts and feelings they struggle with make this a disturbing classic.

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              Candide

              by Voltaire
              Young Candide refutes his tutor’s claims about the world, leading to an astute satire mocking politics, science, religion, and philosophy.

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                Animal Farm

                by George Orwell
                Orwell’s legendary polemical allegory places the Soviet Union into a farm. It’s a gripping read, and is a regular staple in literary education.

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                  The Old Man and the Sea

                  by Ernest Hemingway
                  Hemingway’s classic sees an old man take to the sea in search of a great catch. A stirring tale about adversity and the struggles of life.

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                    The Snows of Kilimanjaro

                    by Ernest Hemingway
                    Ten of Hemingway’s emotive short stories form this memorable book. It’s classic Hemingway and belongs on everyone’s book shelf.

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                      Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

                      by Philip K. Dick

                      Themes of humanity and reality run throughout as protagonist Rick Deckard hunts down humanlike replicants. The film Blade Runner is loosely based on Dick’s novella.

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                        The Catcher in the Rye

                        by J.D. Salinger
                        Notorious for unfortunate reasons, Salinger’s tale of angst-ridden Holden Caulfield has captured the attention of many teenagers.

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                          The Driver’s Seat

                          by Muriel Spark
                          Scottish writer Spark’s “metaphysical shocker.” After 16 years in a tedious job, Lise heads off on a hedonistic, self-destructive holiday.

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                            Anthem

                            by Ayn Rand
                            Rand’s striking, dystopian novel about a future world where individuality has been eliminated.

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                              Bonjour Tristesse

                              by Françoise Sagan

                              Sagan became famous overnight with Bonjour Tristesse. It follows carefree, 17-year-old Cécile as she holidays with her father, but her uneven emotional state leads to tragedy.

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                                Lord of the Flies

                                by William Golding

                                Golding’s enduring classic about school boys stranded on a desert island. Their attempts to govern themselves soon lead to anarchy.

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                                  The Awakening

                                  by Kate Chopin

                                  Published in 1899, Chopin’s short novel was ahead of its time in dealing with the topics of marital problems, adultery, and the role of women in society.

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                                    Why I Am So Wise

                                    by Friedrich Nietzsche

                                    Why I am So Wise is an insightful excerpt from Ecce Homo (Nietzsche’s last book). It’s a fascinating example of his genius.
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                                      The Ballad of the Sad Café

                                      by Carson McCullers

                                      McCullers’s weirdly wonderful story of small-town life. It portrays a bizarre human triangle involving rampaging macho desire and female resolve.

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                                        Post Office

                                        by Charles Bukowski

                                        A hilarious account of Bukowski’s time at a post office. His wild antics may not be for everyone, but it’s a fine example of Beat Generation writing.

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                                          Tristessa

                                          by Jack Kerouac

                                          Kerouac fell in love with the novella’s eponymous Mexican girl in the ’50s, and his musings on her drug addiction are very moving.

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                                            Satori In Paris

                                            by Jack Kerouac

                                            Interested in Buddhism, Kerouac headed to Paris to research his family history (satori is the experience of kenshō – “seeing one’s true nature”). Distracted, what followed was high, drunken comedy.

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                                              After the Quake

                                              by Haruki Murakami

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                                              Six stories from the famed Murakami. After the Quake considers the devastating Kobe earthquake of 1995, and how it transformed a nation.

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                                                The Sorrows of Young Werther

                                                by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

                                                Goethe’s tragic masterpiece examines a young man balancing his artistic nature with the demands of the critical world.

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                                                  Notes From the Underground

                                                  by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
                                                  One of only four novellas from the Russian great, Notes From the Underground is based around the musings of a disorderly, alienated individual

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                                                    One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

                                                    by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

                                                    Solzhenitsyn’s brutal account of a man in a Soviet labor camp shocked the world upon its release. Gritty, revelatory reading.

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                                                      Of Mice and Men

                                                      by John Steinbeck

                                                      Steinbeck’s classic is the moving tale of two amiable men struggling for work in the Great Depression.

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                                                        Goodbye Tsugumi

                                                        by Banana Yoshimoto

                                                        A reflective novel on strained childhood friendships in Japan. Yoshimoto uses the pen name Banana as she finds it “purposefully androgynous.”

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                                                          Ethan Frome

                                                          by Edith Wharton

                                                          Wharton’s novella deals with a dreary domestic situation in New England. The arrival of lively Mattie shakes up the order, with conflicting results.

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                                                            Mrs. Caliban

                                                            by Rachel Ingalls

                                                            A surreal love story by one of literature’s forgotten female writers. Here, a Californian housewife indulges in an affair with a small green monster.

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                                                              The Visitor

                                                              by Maeve Brennan

                                                              A poignant tale focusing on Anastasia King, who returns to her grandmother’s house but finds herself estranged from her family.

                                                              Print | eBook


                                                                Death in Venice

                                                                by Thomas Mann

                                                                Traveling writer Gustav von Aschenbach heads to Venice in search of spiritual fulfillment. He is led astray by primitive desires.

                                                                Print | eBook


                                                                  The Dead

                                                                  by James Joyce

                                                                  Irish novelist Joyce details a New Year’s Eve gathering in Dublin. An emotionally charged, brilliant account of family life unfolds.

                                                                  Print


                                                                    King Cophetua

                                                                    by Julien Gracq

                                                                    Set in the French countryside of 1917 as World War I rages, Gracq’s beautiful tale displays all the anxieties of the time.

                                                                    Print


                                                                      The Crying of Lot 49

                                                                      by Thomas Pynchon

                                                                      Pynchon’s innovative story of Oedipa Maas. She becomes snared in a global conspiracy, learning life lessons along the way.

                                                                      Print | eBook | Audiobook


                                                                        The Invention of Morel

                                                                        by Adolfo Bioy Casares

                                                                        This suspenseful tale takes in seemingly impossible romances on an enigmatic island. It’s an inspiring consideration of exploration.

                                                                        Print

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                                                                        How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

                                                                        How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

                                                                        Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

                                                                        Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality.

                                                                        I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

                                                                        You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

                                                                        Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

                                                                        When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

                                                                        I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

                                                                        Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

                                                                        Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

                                                                        Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

                                                                        1. The Inner Critic

                                                                        This is your constant abuser. He is often a conglomeration of:

                                                                        • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
                                                                        • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
                                                                        • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
                                                                        • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

                                                                        He is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

                                                                        Why else would he abuse you? And since “he” is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

                                                                        2. The Worrier

                                                                        This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

                                                                        He is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it.

                                                                        Occasionally, he is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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                                                                        3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

                                                                        He is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

                                                                        He can be set off by words or feelings. He can even be set off by sounds and smells.

                                                                        He has no real motivation; he has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

                                                                        4. The Sleep Depriver

                                                                        This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

                                                                        His motivation can be:

                                                                        • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
                                                                        • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
                                                                        • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
                                                                        • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

                                                                        How can you control these squatters?

                                                                        How to Master Your Mind

                                                                        You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

                                                                        Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

                                                                        There are two ways to control your thoughts:

                                                                        • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
                                                                        • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

                                                                        This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

                                                                        The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

                                                                        Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

                                                                        For the Inner Critic

                                                                        When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

                                                                        You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

                                                                        For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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                                                                        You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

                                                                        “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

                                                                        If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

                                                                        • He riles up the Worrier.
                                                                        • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
                                                                        • He is often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
                                                                        • He is a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
                                                                        • He is the destroyer of self-esteem. He convinces you that you’re not worthy. He’s a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get him out!

                                                                        Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

                                                                        Replace him with your new best friend who supports, encourages, and enhances your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

                                                                        For the Worrier

                                                                        Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

                                                                        Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

                                                                        You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

                                                                        • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
                                                                        • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                                                                        • Muscles tense

                                                                        Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

                                                                        If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

                                                                        Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

                                                                        “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

                                                                        Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

                                                                        If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

                                                                        Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

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                                                                        Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

                                                                        For example:

                                                                        If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

                                                                        “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

                                                                        Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

                                                                        “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

                                                                        Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

                                                                        For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

                                                                        Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

                                                                        The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

                                                                        • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
                                                                        • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                                                                        • Muscles tension

                                                                        I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

                                                                        Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

                                                                        Breathe in through your nose:

                                                                        • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
                                                                        • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
                                                                        • Focus on your belly rising.

                                                                        Breathe out through your nose:

                                                                        • Feel your lungs emptying.
                                                                        • Focus on your belly falling.
                                                                        • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

                                                                        Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

                                                                        Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

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                                                                        One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

                                                                        Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

                                                                        For the Sleep Depriver

                                                                        (He’s made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

                                                                        I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

                                                                        Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

                                                                        1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
                                                                        2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

                                                                        When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

                                                                        From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

                                                                        For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

                                                                        If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

                                                                        You can also use this technique any time you want to:

                                                                        • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
                                                                        • Shut down your thinking.
                                                                        • Calm your feelings.
                                                                        • Simply focus on the present moment. 

                                                                        Becoming the Master of Your Mind

                                                                        Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

                                                                        You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

                                                                        Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

                                                                        Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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