There are so many door stopping epics that reading too many of them can be exhausting. I find it helps to interchange them with quicker/shorter books that are much less daunting to get through.
So, here are some of my favorite books that are under 300 pages, and if you have a nice time chunk to devote to reading, you can likely finish them in a sitting or two.
I’ve tried to compile a diverse list that wasn’t just short, but also have fast-paced plots, or easy to follow plots that keep the pages turning for a nice afternoon of light reading. There are LitRPG’s, horrors, comedies, sci fi, grimdarks, YA’s, classics, and westerns on the list!
The Empire of the Dead (166 pgs) Goodreads
This is one I really liked from last year’s SPFBO. The title will give you a good idea of what it’s about – the undead. Lots of undead. The main characters are demigods, it’s a very fast paced and short book that will make for a most entertaining afternoon.
2. The Wizard of Earth Sea (183 pgs) Goodreads
A classic and it would be a great way to honor the late great Ursula LeGuin to pick this one up if you haven’t. Many compare her to literary fiction and she was famous for her characters and worlds.
3. The Massacre at Yellow Hill (188 pgs) Goodreads
This one will be for the horror folks, it’s set way back in the wild west very shortly after the civil war. There’s a mining town that’s suffering from a number of attacks on their people, and many are ending up dead. It follows a bunch of POV’s, one of which is a newly freed slave – it’s creepy, it’s short and worth taking a look at if you like vampires and westerns.
4. They Mostly Come Out at Night (202 pgs) Goodreads
I picked this one up way back before I was really doing reviews that often. That cover was enough to get me interested and I found a refreshingly different storytelling style that was reminiscent of old folk tales, myths, and legends. If you try this one and like it, it’s a pleasure to read the next two in the series and watch the author improve on his craft.
5. The Theif Who Pulled on Troubles Braids (210 pgs) Goodreads
This won first place in the very first SPFBO competition, and I listened to it on audio earlier this year. It’s a fun but also a somewhat gritty tale about a thief who’s fallen into a high stakes situation. An old friend has been murdered after dropping off an ancient relic – turns out the ancient relic is worth serious money and she finds herself being hounded by the police and also mixed up with underground crime. Magic, mystery, and murder abound.
6. Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (216 pgs) Goodreads
Another classic, but sometimes I’m surprised by how many people haven’t read it yet. Very British styled humor it’s a short and absurd read that really makes me laugh and puts me in a good mood. I used to re-read this one frequently whenever I needed a pick me up. Great audiobook by Stephen Fry!
7. Threadbare (240 pgs) Goodreads
OMG I loved this one, but it won’t be for everyone as it’s a LitRPG. This one follows a newly made sentient teddy bear and his attempts to survive his new world. The house cat is one of my favorite side characters ever. It’s funny, it’s adorable, it’s fast-paced and fun. If you like LitRPG and you want something a little different this one could very well be for you. It’s not YA, don’t let the cover fool you – this book drops “fuck” around quite frequently.
8. Mort (243 pgs) Goodreads
Happy to say a few of the Discworld books were short enough to make this list! This is a common starting point for the series as well since it kicks off the DEATH storyline which is one of the more popular subseries. DEATH picks up an unlikely assistant, an assistant who really sucks at his job. DEATH has a dry and unintentional humor which resonates with me so well – and if you like this one I think you’ll love Reaper Man, the next in DEATH’s series.
9. Death March (250 pgs) Goodreads
I’m a fan of Phil Tucker, I loved his Black Gate series – and I also love LitRPG. What happens when you combine these? A really awesome fucking LitRPG! I read a lot of these and it quickly made its way to my favorites list.
10. Sir Thomas the Hesitant (266 pgs) Goodreads
Don’t mind the cover, what’s inside is great! If you like warm hearted comedies and need a break from doom, gloom and death this one could be for you. A very fun and light book that I enjoyed a lot. It’s a satire on King Arthur’s Court and featured a haphazard and unlikely hero.
11. Gunslinger by Stephen King (231 pgs) Goodreads
One of the more favorable King books on r/fantasy and now also a movie, this is one worth checking out if for no other reason but to know what everyone else is talking about. Hard to believe this one is so short, I’m accustomed to King’s books sort of going on and on forever, but this one is much tighter and shorter than most of the things I’ve read by him. Per usual, he has a unique and recognizable style that hooks you early on.
12. Whom The Gods Love (270 pgs) Goodreads
This is one I read earlier this year as part of my 100 SPFBO book challenge. I really liked this one due to its characters, in particular, a sassy old lady who made me smile every time she was on the page. A king is trying to save his wife, so he has to journey to a temple in the middle of bumble fuck to beg the help of a mad goddess.
13. Jack Bloodfist (276 pgs) Goodreads
A finalist for SPFBO #3, this one is a lot of fun. It’s an urban fantasy/portal fantasy and Jack is his families ‘fix it’ guy. Whatever goes wrong, he’s the one who has to come up with a solution, and when a group starts hunting down family members he’s forced to find a way to end it.
14. Bridge of Birds (278 pgs) Goodreads
An older book, but one well worth taking a look at – this one has an absurd sense of humor and will leave you with warm fuzzies. The silk worms are dying off and children are going into comas, it doesn’t sound funny but this book was simply a joy. It’s humor mixed with heart and a dash of philosophy.
15. Ankaran Immersion (286 pgs) Goodreads
This one is a surreal sci fi based in a dystopia where nanobots have run rampant. This one is hard to summarize because it’s just so different, but if you want humans blended with tech, robot animals made from nanobots that can assemble themselves in different ways this one is super interesting.
16. Heartstrikers (287 pgs) Goodreads
My favorite urban fantasy series! This story follows a reject dragon named Julius, he’s too nice and his mother has had enough of his bullshit. He has to straighten up and prove he’s worthy of staying in the Heartstriker clan, or he dies. It’s a dire ultimatum his mother gave him and he’s getting help from some siblings and a human mage. Very light, very fun and it has an excellent audiobook.
17. Valhalla Online (287 pgs) Goodreads
I’ve read a bunch of LitRPG where the characters are stuck in a video game, but this one rose above the others due to decent character development and plotline. The MC finds herself stuck in VR without knowing how she got there. She’s a marine/in the army (can’t remember) and doesn’t really play video games, so she figures one of her friends is playing a prank. After much prying and confusion, after speaking with others in the game she finds out she’s in a game for people who have died. There’s an expensive process to upload one’s mind into the game to have a life after death. She thinks there has to be a huge mistake and spends the book trying to find a way to communicate with the outside world.
18. Trench by Ethan Childress Goodreads
I just finished reading this one a couple days ago and I was surprised by how much I liked it. It’s a military fantasy comedy, it follows several characters as they try to survive what’s been dubbed the “Grinder”, where new recruits come to die on the front lines. It has a lot of dry humor, it’s droll, and it’s deeply infused with satire on the fantasy genre using tropes like elves, dwarves, orcs, trolls etc.
19. House of Blades (294 pgs) Goodreads
This one is a coming of age story despite what the cover looks like lol. It follows a kid who has a sad story, his father died defending him and his mother suffered a psychotic break from the ordeal and he’s left caring for her. His village is raided looking for ‘sacrifices’ and he runs with a few of the villagers trying to get away from the invaders. He’s hiding in the woods when he comes across a very strange man who talks to dolls and tells him he can teach him to be a legendary swordsman – just follow him through this alternate dimension and live in a sentient house with doors that lead to different realities, no big deal.
20. Carpe Jugulum (296 pgs) Goodreads
Another Pratchett! This one is all about the witches 😀 The king, in his infinite wisdom has decided to invite vampires into his kingdom as a peace accord of sorts. Of course, this goes very poorly because they’re -ing vampires. Granny has gone awol, so unless Granny can be found, it’s up to the other witches to solve the bloodsucker problem before Lancre is overrun. I don’t usually go for vampires but these guys were unbelievably entertaining, the father is convinced that humans have valuable culture and he tries to get his wife and children to switch from blood to wine, to eat ‘real food’ and try to assimilate as best as possible. None of this goes over well.
That “Whom The Gods Love” cover must be an old one because the version I’ve got is a thousand times better.
lol whoops. ah well. it’s a fun book 🙂
Good list, this is making me want to go through my Kindle and see if there’s anything else I can throw in there. Have you read any of Will Wight’s “Cradle” series? There’s light LitRPG, no actual stats, but there is leveling up and a pretty interesting system of magic and whatnot. They’re also all pretty short.
I keep meaning to get around to Cradle, I just can’t seem to make room
Good list, Esme, but it’s “Earthsea” all one word.
ah yeah. i can’t spell, it is known.