Novellas in November

Cathy at 746 Books and Rebecca at Bookish Beck are hosting Novellas in November again this year. This is a reading challenge that I’ve dipped in and out of in the past couple of years, when my reading has accidentally coincided with it. This year, though, I’m going to try to set myself some goals to try to bring my To Read pile down a little more.

Rebecca and Cathy have set weekly themes for the duration of the challenge. As well as the broad definition of a novella as a literary work of around 150 pages or under (with an upper limit of 200 pages), each themed week has a definition. The detail is in the post I’ve linked to above.

We’re away for part of the first week, and I’ve been thinking about what I might read. I have thirteen unread books on my To Read pile that fit the page count, seven novellas and six short non-fiction. Most of them are contemporary, one is a classic that is also a translation.

Week One (1-7 Nov) Short Classics. Marx and Engels’ Communist Manifesto is the only work I have on my list that fits the category for week one. It also fits the category for the following week. And it’s a work of non-fiction. I have plenty of other non-fiction works to choose from, though, so The Communist Manifesto it is for my Week One read. [Update: I remembered that I have the complete works of Joseph Conrad on my e-reader, which includes a number of classic novellas, so I have more to choose from than I thought. I will add Falk to the list.]

Week Two (8-14 Nov) Novellas in Translation. I’m going to fudge this one. Alberto Manguel is Argentinian, so his essay collection about packing up his library each time he moves is a self-translation inside his head. I’m happy with that logic. Packing My Library: An elegy and ten digressions is my Week Two read. [Update: Vincenzo Cerami’s A Very Normal Man (tr. Isobel Grave) arrived on the last day of Novellas in Translation week, so I’ve swapped that in and read it a week late.]

Week Three (15-21 Nov) Short Non-Fiction. I have five titles left to choose from for this category. I’m undecided between two. Maybe I’ll manage to read both.

  • Troublesome Words by Bill Bryson
  • Lee Miller and Surrealism in Britain by Eleanor Clayton

Week Four (22-28 Nov) Contemporary Novellas. I have a cornucopia of choice for this week. My narrowed down selection is:

  • Somebody Loves You by Mona Arshi
  • The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
  • A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Saving Lucia by Anna Vaught

I’m looking forward to all of those titles and might well get through most of them.

I’m hoping not to add anything new to my To Read pile, but the trouble with reading challenges is that other readers tempt you with their choices. Cathy and Rebecca have thought of this, with the last two days of the challenge given over to recapping what you’ve read and talking about what you might have bought or borrowed as a result of someone else’s reviews.

Rebecca and Cathy have both written posts about their reading plans, for anyone thinking of joining in but struggling for ideas. Rebecca’s is here, and Cathy’s here.



11 thoughts on “Novellas in November

  1. Oh, I’d like to read your review of the Ishiguro as I have a copy of that (though I hadn’t considered it as a novella for next month). But then I still have his most recent offering to read so it remains to be seen which one gets there first!

    I’ve begun Orlando as a head start for next week since we’re away for a few days. It just about qualifies under the page count rule but my edition has smaller font size than usual so it could be it’s cheating!

    I have lined up possibles for the next three weeks but may well go with wild cards for all of them, knowing me. Anyway, good luck with your choices!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Chris! The Ishiguro is high on the list, so there’s a good chance you’ll get to see that review.

      I’ve already had to revise my list because when I pulled a couple from the pile I discovered that the page count I’d seen online was way out.

      I read Orlando 30+ years ago and still remember it. It’s the only Woolf novel that I’ve truly enjoyed.

      Enjoy your break. We’re off to the Cotswolds, near Bath – I wondered whether there might be a slim Austen I hadn’t read, but the answer is no. Not that counts as a novella, anyway!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know why I haven’t read it yet. One of my university courses in the early 90s was political philosophy, but Marx and Engels seem to have not been on the reading list. I read Aquinas, Machiavelli, Smith, Hume, Riccardo, Malthus and Mill. I’ve had this copy on my e-reader for years and never made time for it.


  2. Sounds like a good challenge! I haven’t read anything on your list except The Sense of and Ending. I don’t remember much about it really, but do remember thinking it was good. That’s probably not all that helpful! Enjoy your time off! x

    Liked by 1 person

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