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What short, beautiful novel should I read?

I’m trying to read more broadly these days. And, specifically, I’m trying to read short, beautiful books to help me with a book of my own that I am trying to write.

This morning I posted a question on social media.

‪I’ve been given a £40 book voucher (coolest present in the world). What shall I buy? Preference is for short and beautifully written novels.‬

Here, a selection of the answers, are enough book recommendations to keep you (and me) busy for a year!

• The Brilliant and Forever by @Kevin_MacNeil is a great read
• To my shame I’ve only just read “To Kill a Mockingbird”. I wish I’d read it years ago; I’d recommend it to everyone.
• Mend the living by Maylis de Kerangal, welcome prize winner this year, short(ish), beautiful & unique
• The Moon is Down is splendid. I’ve heard very good things about The End We Start From.
• Also, @meganfnhunter’s The End We Start From; Mingarelli – A Meal in Winter; and Steinbeck’s The Moon is Down.
• Life’s Music by Andrei Makinr. Fulfills both criteria
• The Cove. A short novel set off the coast of west Wales. Beautifully written and utterly gripping.
• The troublesome offspring of cardinal guzman
• Would recommed At Hawthorn Time then
• Grief is a Thing with Feathers by @maxjohnporter is well worth reading
• Rain – Four walks in English weather, by @M_Z_Harrison
• MINK RIVER by Brian Doyle. LOITERING WITH INTENT by Muriel Spark.
• Finally read “Amongst Women” by John McGahern and loved it.
• Buy “Do birds still sing in hell?” Excellent story
• A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler
• “Monsieur Linh and His Child” – Philippe Claudel. One of the most beautiful short novels ever.
• “Skin of a Lion” is fab! Or how about Toni Morrison’s “Sula”.
• The Year Of The Hare is right up your street.
• Written by a Finnish man, it’s quirky, funny and beautiful.
• The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce is about a man who walks across England. His journey, both exterior and interior, might be a bit different than your excursions.
• If Woman Rose Rooted
• The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward abbey
•  ‘Gift From The Sea’ by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
• Mushashi by Eiji Yoshikawa which is a novel made up of short books. Truly beautiful read.
• “Silk” – Alessandro Baricco. Beautifully written, multi layered, romantic tale, with some epic transcontinental journeys thrown in. Strong, powerful, yet subtle.
• Elif Shafak The Forty Rules of Love. Turkish writer, book about Rumi and a Sufi dervish.
• Gilead by Marylinne Robinson. Amazing book (and winner of the Pulitzer Prize a few years ago).
• Monsieur Linh and His Child- Philippe Claudel. Very moving, but also uplifting
• The magic strings of frankie presto. If you enjoyed your violin trip you’ll like this book. By mitch Albom
• Things Fall Apart
• I Found My Tribe by Ruth Fitzmaurice
• Janette Turner Hospitals’ -‘Forecast Turbulence’
• Il Postino (The Postman) by Antonio Skarmeta.
• The Course of Love by Alain DeBotton
• The North Water – Ian McgGuire
• Erlend Loe: Doppler
• Run Wild – Boff Whalley

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  1. If you are into non-fiction, I would suggest an adventure filled book Cubicle to Cuba: Desk Job to Dream Job:

  2. In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin though I am guessing that you have already read it.

  3. Great list. Thanks

    Think you’d like The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel

    A remarkable story of a guy who lives alone in the woods for 27 years in Maine. He spent the whole time stealing from holiday homes for supplies and food.

    It’s like an extreme version of you 😉

  4. Gilead is hardly short! Anyway, here are my recommendations:

    Henry James – The Turn of the Screw
    Any of Conrad’s shorter works. Heart of Darkness if you’ve not read it, or if you have then Lord Jim is probably his best, and is not too long.
    Douglas Coupland – Girlfriend in a Coma (also, Hey Nostradamus)
    Ernest Hemmingway – The Old Man and the Sea (though I imagine you’ve read this one)
    Tim Krabbe – The Rider
    Graham Greene – The Power and the Glory

    Also, for a certain value of beautiful:
    The crying of Lot 49 – Thomas Pynchon
    The Spy who came in from the Cold – John le Carre (or else The Looking Glass War); there’s a certain beauty in the unremitting bleakness.
    Anything by Philip K Dick

    • Nonfiction, anything by Robert Macfarlane on the outdoors is just BEAUTIFUL. Fiction, How To Stop Time by Matt Haig; also anything by Neil Gaiman (but most of all, Stardust).



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