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Great Short Books

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Member Reviews

Great little book with various short book recommendations! Most books mentioned were published years ago and are considered classics but there were a good amount of books mentioned that were published after the 2000s. 

Kenneth C. Davis has included 58 books; one for each week of the year plus 6 additional titles. For each selection, Davis includes the first few lines of the book, a spoiler-free summary, followed by a short bio for the author also mentioning how their time has influenced their work, and finally a "Why you should read it" section including Davis reflections and other appraisals, and "What to read next" sections that includes other works by that author. 

I really enjoyed the intro also that included Davis' thoughts on what makes a short novel and his observations on some common mental illnesses between these authors. 

I've added Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson, The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, and The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante to my TBR.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for this ARC!
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A book about books! I love it! I don’t usually read books that review other books, but I was interested in building up the classics in my TBR (To Be Read) list and thought, sure, why not? I am so glad I did because Davis’s short reviews, not only of the short book he recommends, but also the vignettes of the author and the tidbits about their other novels inspired me to produce a Classics Reading Challenge on my Storygraph page. 

What I really enjoyed about Great Short Books were the depth of the reviews and discussion around the novel. Davis gave enough information about the novel to intrigue, but not too much as to spoil the desire to read it myself. The authors too, though I'd read many of them already, became more fully fleshed out in my mind as people, more than merely producers of the works I love to read. 

If you're looking to expand and explore new literary choices, Great Short Books delivers the perfect small-bites information you need to fuel your own adventure.

My New Classics Reading Challenge Inspired by Davis’ book:

1. The Woman of Rome by Alberto Moravia 

The glitter and cynicism of Rome under Mussolini provide the background of what is probably Alberto Moravia’s best and best-known novel — The Woman of Rome. It’s the story of Adriana, a simple girl with no fortune but her beauty who models naked for a painter, accepts gifts from men, and could never quite identify the moment when she traded her private dream of home and children for the life of a prostitute.

2. The Conformist by Alberto Moravia 

Secrecy and Silence are second nature to Marcello Clerici, the hero of The Conformist, a book which made Alberto Moravia one of the world’s most read postwar writers. Clerici is a man with everything under control – a wife who loves him, colleagues who respect him, the hidden power that comes with his secret work for the Italian political police during the Mussolini years. But then he is assigned to kill his former professor, now exiled in France, to demonstrate his loyalty to the Fascist state, and falls in love with a strange, compelling woman; his life is torn open – and with it the corrupt heart of Fascism. Moravia equates the rise of Italian Fascism with the psychological needs of his protagonist for whom conformity becomes an obsession in a life that has included parental neglect, an oddly self-conscious desire to engage in cruel acts, and a type of male beauty which, to Clerici’s great distress, other men find attractive.

3. Two Women by Alberto Moravia 

FIRST PUBLISHED in English in 1958, Two Women is a compassionate yet forthright narrative of simple people struggling to survive in war. The two women are Cesira, a widowed Roman shopkeeper, and her daughter Rosetta, a naive teenager of haunting beauty and devout faith. When the German occupation of Rome becomes imminent, Cesira packs a few provisions, sews her life savings into the seams of her dress, and flees with Rosetta to her native province of Ciociara, a poor, mountainous region south of Rome.

Cesira’s currency soon loses its value, and a vicious barter economy, fraught with shifty traffickers and thieves, emerges among the mountain peasants and refugees. Mother and daughter endure nine months of hunger, cold, and filth as they await the arrival of the Allied forces. Cesira scarcely cares who wins the war, so long as victory comes soon and brings with it a return to her quiet shopkeeper’s life.

Instead, the Liberation brings tragedy. While heading back to Rome the pair are attacked by a group of Allied Moroccan soldiers, who rape Rosetta and beat Cesira unconscious. This act of violence and its resulting loss of innocence so embitters Rosetta that she falls numbly into a life of prostitution. Throughout these hardships Moravia offers up an intimate portrayal of the anguish wrought by the devastation of war, both on the battlefield and upon those far from the fray.

4. Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell

In 1936 George Orwell travelled to Spain to report on the Civil War and instead joined the fight against the Fascists. This famous account describes the war and Orwell’s own experiences. Introduction by Lionel Trilling.

5. Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson 

Running into a long-ago friend sets memories from the 1970s in motion for August, transporting her to a time and a place where friendship was everything—until it wasn’t. For August and her girls, sharing confidences as they ambled through neighborhood streets, Brooklyn was a place where they believed that they were beautiful, talented, brilliant—a part of a future that belonged to them.

But beneath the hopeful veneer, there was another Brooklyn, a dangerous place where grown men reached for innocent girls in dark hallways, where ghosts haunted the night, where mothers disappeared. A world where madness was just a sunset away and fathers found hope in religion.

6. At Fault by Kate Chopin 

Widowed at thirty, beautiful, resourceful Therese Lafirme is left alone to run her Louisiana plantation. When Therese falls in love with David Hosmer, a divorced businessman, her strong moral and religious convictions make it impossible for her to accept his marriage proposal. Her determined rejection sets the two on a tumultuous path that involves Hosmer’s troubled former wife, Fanny.

At Fault is set in the Post-Reconstruction rural South against a backdrop of economic devastation and simmering racial tensions. Written at the beginning of her career, it has parallels to Chopin’s own life and contains characters and themes that prefigure her later works, including The Awakening.

7. Bayou Folk by Kate Chopin 

Short fiction by much-more-than-local-color-writer Kate Chopin. Includes Ma’ame Pelagie , a character who shows up again later.

8. Reflections in a Golden Eye by Carson McCullers 

A powerful and passionate tale is set on a southern army post –a human hell inhabited by a sexually disturbed officer, his animalistic wife, her lover, and the driven young private who forces the drama to its climax…

9. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers 

Carson McCullers’ prodigious first novel was published to instant acclaim when she was just twenty-three. Set in a small town in the middle of the deep South, it is the story of John Singer, a lonely deaf-mute, and a disparate group of people who are drawn towards his kind, sympathetic nature. The owner of the café where Singer eats every day, a young girl desperate to grow up, an angry drunkard, a frustrated black doctor: each pours their heart out to Singer, their silent confidant, and he in turn changes their disenchanted lives in ways they could never imagine.

10. Black Boy by Richard Wright 

Black Boy is a classic of American autobiography, a subtly crafted narrative of Richard Wright’s journey from innocence to experience in the Jim Crow South. An enduring story of one young man’s coming of age during a particular time and place, Black Boy remains a seminal text in our history about what it means to be a man, black, and Southern in America.

11. Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family by Thomas Mann (0 books added)

Buddenbrooks, first published in Germany in 1901, when Mann was only twenty-six, has become a classic of modern literature.

It is the story of four generations of a wealthy bourgeois family in northern Germany facing the advent of modernity; in an uncertain new world, the family’s bonds and traditions begin to disintegrate. As Mann charts the Buddenbrooks’ decline from prosperity to bankruptcy, from moral and psychic soundness to sickly piety, artistic decadence, and madness, he ushers the reader into a world of stunning vitality, pieced together from births and funerals, weddings and divorces, recipes, gossip, and earthy humor.

In its immensity of scope, richness of detail, and fullness of humanity, buddenbrooks surpasses all other modern family chronicles. With remarkable fidelity to the original German text, this superb translation emphasizes the magnificent scale of Mann’s achievement in this riveting, tragic novel.

12. The Dry Heart by Natalia Ginzburg

The Dry Heart begins and ends with the matter-of-fact pronouncement: “I shot him between the eyes.” As the tale—a plunge into the chilly waters of loneliness, desperation, and bitterness—proceeds, the narrator’s murder of her flighty husband takes on a certain logical inevitability. Stripped of any preciousness or sentimentality, Natalia Ginzburg’s writing here is white-hot, tempered by rage. She transforms the unhappy tale of an ordinary dull marriage into a rich psychological thriller that seems to beg the question: why don’t more wives kill their husbands?

13. The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald 

Today F. Scott Fitzgerald is better known for his novels, but in his own time, his fame rested squarely on his prolific achievement as one of America’s most gifted writers of stories and novellas. Now, a half-century after the author’s death, the premier Fitzgerald scholar and biographer, Matthew J. Bruccoli, has assembled in one volume the full scope of Fitzgerald’s best short fiction: forty-three sparkling masterpieces, ranging from such classic novellas as “The Rich Boy,” “May Day,” and “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz” to his commercial work for the Saturday Evening Post and its sister “slicks.”
For the reader, these stories will underscore the depth and extraordinary range of Fitzgerald’s literary talents. Furthermore, Professor Bruccoli’s illuminating preface and introductory headnotes establish the literary and biographical settings in which these stories now shine anew with brighter luster than ever.

14. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (0 books added)

Acclaimed by critics, beloved by readers of all ages, taught everywhere from inner-city grade schools to universities across the country, and translated all over the world, The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero.

Told in a series of vignettes – sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous–it is the story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Few other books in our time have touched so many readers.

15. Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros 

Every year, Ceyala “Lala” Reyes’ family–aunts, uncles, mothers, fathers, and Lala’s six older brothers–packs up three cars and, in a wild ride, drive from Chicago to the Little Grandfather and Awful Grandmother’s house in Mexico City for the summer. Struggling to find a voice above the boom of her brothers and to understand her place on this side of the border and that, Lala is a shrewd observer of family life. But when she starts telling the Awful Grandmother’s life story, seeking clues to how she got to be so awful, grandmother accuses Lala of exaggerating. Soon, a multigenerational family narrative turns into a whirlwind exploration of storytelling, lies, and life. Like the cherished rebozo, or shawl, that has been passed down through generations of Reyes women, Caramelo is alive with the vibrations of history, family, and love.

16. Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin 

Set in the contemporary Paris of American expatriates, liaisons, and violence, a young man finds  himself caught between desire and conventional  morality. James Baldwin’s brilliant narrative delves  into the mystery of loving with a sharp, probing  imagination, and he creates a moving, highly  controversial story of death and passion that reveals the  unspoken complexities of the heart.

17. If This Is A Man by Primo Levi 

Primo Michele Levi was a chemist and writer, the author of books, novels, short stories, essays, and poems. His unique 1975 work, The Periodic Table, linked to qualities of the elements, was named by the Royal Institution of Great Britain as the best science book ever written.

Levi spent eleven months imprisoned at Monowitz, one of the three main camps in the Auschwitz concentration camp complex (record number: 174,517) before the camp was liberated by the Red Army on 18 January 1945. Of the 650 Italian Jews in his transport, Levi was one of only twenty who left the camps alive.

The Primo Levi Center, dedicated “to studying the history and culture of Italian Jewry,” was named in his honor.

18. July’s People by Nadine Gordimer 

For years, it had been what is called a “deteriorating situation.” Now all over South Africa the cities are battlegrounds. The members of the Smales family—liberal whites—are rescued from the terror by their servant, July, who leads them to refuge in his village. What happens to the Smaleses and to July—the shifts in character and relationships—gives us an unforgettable look into the terrifying, tacit understandings and misunderstandings between blacks and whites.

19. The Conservationist by Nadine Gordimer 

Mehring is rich. He has all the privileges and possessions that South Africa has to offer, but his possessions refuse to remain objects. His wife, son, and mistress leave him; his foreman and workers become increasingly indifferent to his stewarsship; even the land rises up, as drought, then flood, destroy his farm.

20. The Inheritors by William Golding (1 book added)

When the spring came the people – what was left of them – moved back by the old paths from the sea. But this year strange things were happening, terrifying things that had never happened before. Inexplicable sounds and smells; new, unimaginable creatures half glimpsed through the leaves. What the people didn’t, and perhaps never would, know, was that the day of their people was already over.

From the author of Lord of the Flies, The Inheritors is a startling recreation of the lost world of the Neanderthals, and a frightening vision of the beginning of a new age.

Books you’ve added to this prompt:

21. Darkness Visible by William Golding 

At the height of the London blitz, a naked child steps out of an all-consuming fire. Miraculously saved yet hideously scarred, tormented at school and at work, Matty becomes a wanderer, a seeker after some unknown redemption. Two more lost children await him: twins as exquisite as they are loveless. Toni dabbles in political violence, Sophy in sexual tyranny. As Golding weaves their destinies together, as he draws them toward a final conflagration, his book lights up both the inner and outer darknesses of our time.

22. The Middle Passage by Charles Johnson 

Rutherford Calhoun, a newly freed slave and irrepressible rogue, is lost in the underworld of 1830s New Orleans. Desperate to escape the city’s unscrupulous bill collectors and the pawing hands of a schoolteacher hellbent on marrying him, he jumps aboard the Republic, a slave ship en route to collect members of a legendary African tribe, the Allmuseri. Thus begins a voyage of metaphysical horror and human atrocity, a journey which challenges our notions of freedom, fate and how we live together. Peopled with vivid and unforgettable characters, nimble in its interplay of comedy and serious ideas, this dazzling modern classic is a perfect blend of the picaresque tale, historical romance, sea yarn, slave narrative and philosophical allegory.

23. On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan 

It is July 1962. Florence is a talented musician who dreams of a career on the concert stage and of the perfect life she will create with Edward, an earnest young history student at University College of London, who unexpectedly wooed and won her heart. Newly married that morning, both virgins, Edward and Florence arrive at a hotel on the Dorset coast. At dinner in their rooms they struggle to suppress their worries about the wedding night to come. Edward, eager for rapture, frets over Florence’s response to his advances and nurses a private fear of failure, while Florence’s anxieties run deeper: she is overcome by sheer disgust at the idea of physical contact, but dreads disappointing her husband when they finally lie down together in the honeymoon suite.

24. The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani 

When Myriam, a French-Moroccan lawyer, decides to return to work after having children, she and her husband look for the perfect nanny for their two young children. They never dreamed they would find Louise: a quiet, polite, devoted woman who sings to the children, cleans the family’s chic apartment in Paris’s upscale tenth arrondissement, stays late without complaint, and hosts enviable kiddie parties. But as the couple and the nanny become more dependent on one another, jealousy, resentment, and suspicions mount, shattering the idyllic tableau.

25. The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain (1 book added)

Cain’s first novel – the subject of an obscenity trial in Boston and the inspiration for Camus’s The Stranger – is the fever-pitched tale of a drifter who stumbles into a job, into an erotic obsession, and into a murder.

26. Sula by Toni Morrison (1 book added)

This rich and moving novel traces the lives of two black heroines from their close-knit childhood in a small Ohio town, through their sharply divergent paths of womanhood, to their ultimate confrontation and reconciliation.

Nel Wright has chosen to stay in the place where she was born, to marry, raise a family, and become a pillar of the black community. Sula Peace has rejected the life Nel has embraced, escaping to college, and submerging herself in city life. When she returns to her roots, it is as a rebel and a wanton seductress. Eventually, both women must face the consequences of their choices. Together, they create an unforgettable portrait of what it means and costs to be a black woman in America.
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I thought this gave me a lot of exposure to authors and genres I was unfamiliar with.  The format is great for a “slow and steady” read.  I tried to do one book a week.  I thank NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this ARC.
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This is an excellent reference guide for anyone that is short on time for reading, or who wants to read more in a year. This would make a fantastic gift for the book lover in your life.
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While the pandemic still simmers in various communities with the change of seasons and variants, it's settled into more of a background event with the advent of vaccines and is less likely to disrupt on the scale it initially did. We are at the point now where we are encountering more books brought about because of the COVID-19 pandemic; when the world changes drastically, our individual lives don't escape impact. 

In March 2020, I, personally, found myself caught up in panic, expected to work more hours to help pivot our college's tasks to be remote, while also coordinating my daughters' remote school work, and when I had a moment to myself, I had no mental acuity to read meaty volumes. Audiobooks and light books were my fare, until I could focus again. Similarly, Kenneth C. Davis was reading short books, and the framing of this book is an offering of 58 short titles. 

Each offering is structured with the same following categories:
First Lines
Plot Summary
About the Author
Why You Should Read It
What to Read Next

Don't let the groupings suggest that this is a dry, clinical treatment. I relished encountering new and familiar authors and titles and added several to my TBR list because the summaries captivated me. In a few minutes, I can glean enough to consider whether a title is one that would draw me in and, either way, walk away with a fuller understanding of a title, its impact, and other worthy books to consider by the same author. Plus, books about books have a special appeal. This is a perfect gift for readers in your life.

(I received a digital ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.)
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My TBR grew exponentially after reading this book.  Thanks for all the great suggestions and descriptions  this book, I will never run out of books I want to read.
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“Great Short Books: A Year of Reading — Briefly” by Kenneth C. Davis will publish next week just in time for the holiday gift season. This “book about books” reminds me of Bookstagram reviews: it’s like if you took a bunch of reviews and combined them into a collection of classics + “great books” suggestions. 

This is marketed as a companion for book lovers and an engaging guide to short novels.

The format ⤵️

— The Section Dedicated to a Short Novel is followed by: 
— Year, Portrait of Author, Publication Data
— Any significant awards etc 
— First lines 
— Plot Summary 
— About the Author 
— Why You Should Read It 
— What to Read Next 

Each section is just a few pages long and the subsections a few paragraphs each. 

Books included span from fiction to magical realism + 18th century to modern day, a large variety of cultures and countries and POVs. Some examples include ⤵️

— George Orwell (Animal Farm)
— Kate Chopin (The Awakening)
— Thomas Mann (Death in Venice)
— F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby) 
— Virginia Woolf (Mrs. Dalloway)
— Colson Whitehead (The Nickel Boys) 
— Stephen King 
— Albert Camus (The Stranger)
— Zora Neale Hurston 
— Chinua Achebe 
— Yu Miri (Tokyo Ueno Station)
— Jean Rhys (Wide Sargasso Sea) 

And many more. Index includes more great stories, those listed with Nobel prizes, indexes of all books and authors included, and some editor entries. 

I read this from @netgalley and a physical copy. All in all, I like the idea. It’s meant for helping people either get into or get back into reading, specifically as that relates to the “great books” and classics. I think the selection is a fair and accurate portrayal, the format lends to brevity and suggests more if the recommendation resonates. It’s really like a Bookstagram in a book 😂 

This will publish from @scribnerbooks on November 22. It’ll be categorized as nonfiction, literary nonfiction, books about books, etc. The author, Kenneth C. Davis, is a historian and prolific writer. His suggestions come from a long lifetime of experience in reading and academia.
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Really enjoyed this anthology of short novellas.Perfect introduction to readers of authors they might not of read before.Full of recommendation  an excellent anthology #netgalley#scribnerbooks
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Premise of this book is that the author suggests 58 of his favorite short books by giving the reader the first lines, a brief plot summary, a short author bio, and a defense for his recommendation.  I found a few new books for my tbr list, so that is always a good thing!
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Competition in this space is fierce. Read James Mustich’s 1,000 Books To Read Before You Die!

The prose in Great Short Books is extremely stuffy.  The author is accustomed to writing non-fiction, but he failed to construct a compelling story.  Where is the hook?  For many of the books that he suggested, I have read and loved.  I mean LOVED.  But the author didn’t convey just how extremely, unbelievably, life-changingly awesome these books were.

Frankly, the tone of this book seemed like Davis was talking down to the reader, trying to impress with all of the various books that he has read.  

When it came to Stephen King, the author said that King didn’t need an introduction unless if the reader was from another planet.  Is this how you make reading accessible and welcoming?  Because I have news for you…..I have never actually read a Stephen King novel, and I would never presume the reading habits of my readers.  

Although the author wrote this book as a non-fiction, he inserted his own opinions about the January 6th Capital Riots and COVID-19 at a couple of points throughout the book. However, this didn’t feel like the time or place for these comments.  Personally, I like to pick up books because I want to escape from the political nonsense.

Further, the information in the book was not all that helpful.  For example, while the book contained, a What to Read Next Section, it only included other books that that particular author wrote.  This is extremely limiting.  For example, one book that is recommend is Passing by Nella Larsen.  Um this book served as a foundation for The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett.  How can he not even mention it?  

Where are the digital resources?  There is an amazing, amazing YouTube series called But Have You Read The Book? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fm0rCMpWfgY&t=2s which has an incredible episode on Passing.  Why doesn’t the publisher or author create a list on List Challenges for readers to use?  See BBC’s Top 100 Books You Need to Read Before You Die as an example.  https://www.listchallenges.com/bbcs-top-100-books-you-need-to-read-before-you-die

In any era where you can get reading lists for free on the internet, this book is entirely underwhelming.  

*Thanks, NetGalley, for a free copy of this book, in exchange for my fair and unbiased opinion.
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What a great resource for those diving back into reading, lifelong readers, book clubs...really anyone who has an interest in books. Like some other reviewers have stated - I like books about books, so this appealed to me right away.

Davis, as explained in the introduction of "Great Short Books," set about collecting this list of short novels during the pandemic when he himself was looking to read more. What follows is 58 introductions to short novels (between 100-200 pages) from a wide range of authors, time periods, and genres. Each novel can be read in a week, so there are enough of them to fill "a year of reading...briefly," plus six bonus entries. Each short novel is introduced in the same format: publication information, first lines, plot summary, about the author, why you should read it, and what to read next. There are additional further reading lists at the end of the book. 

I found that the entries gave you just enough information to either peak your interest or pass on a story without giving away too much. I appreciated the sections about the authors and Davis's thoughts on the significance of each short novel. The section on "what to read next" is another really great resource for those who find an author they enjoy.

Whether one follows along and reads a short novel a week for a year, or uses this collection to pull from in a reading slump, I think "Great Short Books" is a nice resource to add to your library.

My thanks to Scribner and NetGalley for the opportunity to review this book. All opinions are my own.
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Though I had read a number of these books already, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It made me want to reread old favorites and to try new (to me) titles. I love how he moved beyond just the texts he read to "What to read next." 
One downside? My "to read list" is now long enough to last till around my 521st birthday. 
I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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My thanks to both NetGalley and the publisher Scribner for an advance copy of this guide to short novels.

As a bookseller there have been many arguments, well differences of opinion, on books and the size of novels based on both price and enjoyment. I have heard quite a few people who think that reading a small book is not worth the time nor the effort to even start, as just as a reader is getting involved the story ends. Others complain that the multitude of series books their lengths, and volume size mean that the author might not care by book 5, and in some cases no longer be alive by book whatever to finish. I've never had that problem. I enjoy Haruki Murakami, whose short stories I love, and will praise till the day I die that 1Q84 at almost a thousand pages should have gone on for a thousand pages more. After Dark on the other hand, should have ended after page 3, but that is just me. Short novels get short shrifted quite a bit, but I enjoy the idea of a complete story in less than 200 pages. And so does Kenneth C. Davis.  Writer and creator of the Don't Know Much About books, Davis has written a guide to his favourite short novels, with information about the book, authors and more. 

The book begins with a short bit about the creation of this book during COVID, his love of libraries and reading. From there Davis focuses on fifty- eight short novels ranging in size from 100 to 200 pages, with a few exceptions. Each entry begins with publishing information up to the current editions and the first lines of the novel to give readers a taste and a tease of what the book's style might be, and to temp people to start making lists for future book orders. There is a plot summary again with enough to entice but not ruin the experience of later reading the book, along with a biography of the writer, stories about the books publications and controversies if there were. My favorite was the Why You Should Read, which is a section booksellers should read as Davis does highlight points about the book that could be used in discussions with others, and can make even books that should be known, or books that are unknown, or even worse considered old fresh again. The What to Read Next is again good for booksellers, and for readers who might be familiar with the book in question, but are intrigued reading the entry to know more books like it, or others the writer has done, that might be longer. The expected authors are looked at, George Orwell, Kate Chopin, Ernest Hemingway, the authors known for short works, along with Alberto Moravia, Natalia Ginzburg and Leïla Slimani.

A very diverse list of books with the entries for each making them all sound interesting and worth reading. The information is informational, but without the teacher leading a lecture aspect, more like I hope I sound when I am talking about books, but with less hand waving and this is the best book ever. There is also a list of books that did not make the cut in the entries section, so a burgeoning reader will get quite a lot of books to add to their wish list. Readers can tell that Davis really enjoys books and reading and wants to share and pass on that love, like librarians did for him. 

A great book for people always looking for new things to read and for booksellers on how to talk about books and what to recommend to those customers who want something new, but something they might have heard of. Oh and for that special time when all the summer reading kids come in and want the smallest book possible.
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I'm always looking for new authors to try and great books to read, so this book sounded like it would definitely be a winner. In fact there were a lot of great things about it. I really appreciated that the author tried to include a diverse cast of writers - male/female, POC, queer, and a mix of nationalities. I definitely found people and books I'd never heard of.

However I was kind of disappointed that so many of these "must read' books sounded so depressing. I was hoping for some lighter books that would be more fun. I guess my taste is just different from that of the author. 

I would recommend this for people who like serious books and don't mind tough and challenging stories.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. My opinions remain my own.
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I enjoyed the collection of some classic and some unknown short stories to me.  It will be a collection I can go back to multiple times.  I will carry it always in my bag just in case I need to a story to tide me over.
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This book is a wonderful resource. It will have readers adding new titles to their wish lists or perhaps having a moment’s nostalgia for a book previously read. There are over fifty books featured. Just a few of those mentioned are Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, Charlotte’s Web by E B White, Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton and Evil Under the Sun by Agatha Christie. As can be seen, there are classics, popular fiction and even some children’s books.

For each title, there are sections. These include First Lines, Plot Summary, About the Author, Why You Should Read It, and What to Read Next. Each of these included much that is detailed and informative.

This is a book that bibliophiles and those who want good reading suggestions are sure to enjoy. Highly recommended.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Scribner for this title. All opinions are my own.
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GREAT SHORT BOOKS is a wonderful, breezy but deep look at the outstanding short books of the last 150 years. Kenneth C. Davis is a genius at summarizing each book and making the reader want to read said book post haste. This is a book I didn’t know the world needed but the world did.
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I only came away from this with a couple of books added to my TBR list, which is good because I already have so many things to read, but disappointing that I didn't get more out of this book. While reading it, I would look up interesting sounding books on Goodreads, but so many of them seemed so depressing. If we're reading these short books because the world is a dumpster fire, let's see more lighthearted ones!

I liked the premise, set-up, and format, but I didn't really gain anything from it.
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I would give this book 10 Stars if it allowed 
Great short book BY Kenneth C. Davis
58 stories, one for each week in the year and 6 bonus books. Few authors I knew, a lot I didn't. He started writing during the Covid-19 pandemic. He came across 1353, Boccaccio’s Decameron tell a story a day for 10 days. Davis felt like Boccaccis was onto something. And so it began, short stories to short novels from his bookshelves to the library to the bookstore, out came "Great Short Books "a year of reading- briefly". 

spans of genres, cultures, countries, and time to present an enchanting and diverse selection of acclaimed and canonical novels. From works in translation like Yu Miri’s ​Tokyo Ueno Station and Marguerite Duras’s The Lover to popular, acclaimed authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Stephen King, this compilation is a celebration of classics from the historic to contemporary—plus a few bestsellers. Each entry includes the novel’s opening lines, a spoiler-free plot summary, a “why you should read it” section, and suggestions for what to read next. I'm on to checkout his other writings. This was a borrowed book from NetGally
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I enjoy books about books.  Finding new titles - particularly older titles - is always a good thing for me. This collection introduced me to a number of books I was not familiar with,  which was fun. I must admit that a number of the titles I was familiar with were not favorites of mine - either the specific stories or the authors - but I still found the overall format and content interesting. Davis's writing is a nice balance between informative and entertaining, and I did find his year-long quest an engaging one.
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