Great Short Books
A Year of Reading—Briefly
by Kenneth C. Davis
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Pub Date 22 Nov 2022 | Archive Date 22 Nov 2022
Fall back into the joys of literature with an extraordinary book for book lovers: a compulsively readable, deeply engaging list of great short novels. A journey into short fiction designed with our contemporary attention spans in mind, Great Short Books suggests fifty-eight excellent short novels, all easily readable in a week or less—a “baker’s dozen” approach to a fun, fascinating year of reading.
From hard-boiled fiction to magical realism, the 18th century to the present day, Great Short Books spans 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.
Just like browsing in your favorite bookstore, this eclectic collection is a fun and practical book for any passionate reader hoping to broaden their collection—or anyone who wants to find an entertaining and effortless reentry into reading.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 23 members
Great Short Books was a great list of some of the greatest short novels of all time. The book contains info about 58 different books that can all be read in a week or less. The book covers different time periods and genres as well. I really loved the suggestions, but also the suggestions of what to read next after each book. I also appreciated the inclusion of books in translation as well. I was really happy to see Maus in there, as graphic novels often get left out of "best of" book lists. Each chapter contained all the things I want in a review:
spoiler-free summary, first lines from the book, why you should read it, info about the author, and what to read next.
I just added a lot more books to my TBR!
This is a wonderful book. It not only introduces the reader to so many fine novellas but also gives a reason for their significance, a bio of the author, ans where and what to read next. Would be a great gift for any reader. I enjoyed every entry.
Great Short Stories" is an incredibly valuable tool for book clubs and readers everywhere! Some authors/titles are well-known and others will be new discoveries. Author Kenneth C. Davis made sure to include "a broad diversity of writers and voices" as well as a variety of genres. The guideline for length is roughly 100 - 200 pages with exceptions.
I am a member of two book groups as well as reviewing for NetGalley so I was delighted to see "Great Short Stories", a guidebook for "A Year of Reading - Briefly". In his introduction the author discusses the issue of time for readers in our society and how the idea to curate short stories came to him. There actually are fifty-eight entries in alphabetical order listing the title, the author, and year of publication with basic information including the opening paragraph, overview, author's bio, why you should read the book, and what else to read from that author. There are lists of entries by the author's last name, dates of publication, additional lists of short stories, and more.
A random sample of titles includes: Charlotte's Web (E.B. White); Evil Under the Sun (Agatha Christie); The Hour of the Star (Clarice Lispector); The Lathe of Heaven (Ursula K. LeGuin; Mrs. Dalloway (Virginia Woolf); Tokyo Ueno Station (Yu Miri); etc.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for any book group looking to find new titles or any reader who wants to know what to read next.
Thank you to the author, publisher Simon & Schuster, and NetGalley for an early copy for an honest review.
First off, my thanks to Scribners and NetGalley for the ebook ARC.
Davis reads, and writes mostly non-fiction (I was surprised to find I knew of him - from his very very first book from way way back when - "Two-Bit Culture", on the paperback book in America). But with the pandemic lockdown he found himself drawn to fiction, Short fiction in particular. AKA - novellas.
As a "road warrior" of 30 years, I found myself drawn to short works - you could finish them within a week in your hotel room, or on your flights. Retired now for 7 years, I still tend to read shorter works. After 300 or so pages, I start thinking, "You really could have said all this in about 220 pp...." Or, my appreciation of the short mystery - about 200 pp. Not the bloated things writers like Parker and Crais and others have been forced by publishers to put out later in their careers, made to produce an annual "door stopper" sized thriller.
His presentation is standard for each title - publication information, first lines, plot, about the author, why read it, and further reading. He does this for the 58 books he read over a year. And includes a "Further Reading" list at the very end of the book as well.
He also explains why some "classics" are not included here - offensive (less an issue of being political correct than their being tiresome in their casual racism or homophobia), and he wanted to focus on new-to-him titles. Not books he has read in the past.
I found over a dozen new authors or titles I want to now read that were included in his main list, and the Further Reading at the end of each chapter and at the end of the volume itself.
As others have suggested, this is a great tool for Book Clubs!
Not Lit Crit, it is mostly focused on necessary, just-the-facts-mam information on one person's reading of short books over a year. Well worth a read, and great for browsing!
these are a compilation of stories by the great writers of the past , well done , enjoyed all the stories and would recommend this if you want to dip your toe in and see who's style of writing you may like to deep dive into .
I really enjoyed reading this book. It’s an easy read, it’s straight to the point and it introduced me to some authors I didn’t know.
What better way to introduce new readers to more than 50 "short" books. This handy book is full of non-spoiler descriptions and cultural context that situate these stories within our world.
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.
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
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.
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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