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15 Life-Changing Books You Can Read in a Day

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Page numbers vary by edition, but we’ve linked these titles to versions that clock in under 100 pages.

READ MORE: The 100 Best Young-Adult Novels of All Time

READ MORE: The 100 Best Children’s Books of All Time

Ethan Frome By Edith Wharton, 77 pages. The title character of Wharton’s novella gets caught in a love triangle between his wife and her cousin. The resolution, as any high school English student can tell you, is tragic. Charles Scribner's Sons
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass By Frederick Douglass, 96 pages. Considered the foremost autobiography of a former slave, Douglass’s Narrative was a major credit to the abolitionist cause. It’s also one of the strongest testaments to the power of reading. Dover Publications, Inc.
The Metamorphosis By Franz Kafka, 44 pages. In the original case of waking up on the wrong side of the bed, salesman Gregor Samsa finds himself transformed one morning into a giant vermin. Kurt Wolff Verlag, Leipzig
The Old Man and the Sea By Ernest Hemingway, 96 pages. Hemingway’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novella follows fisherman Santiago as he battles alone against an enormous marlin.Charles Scribner's Sons
The Communist Manifesto By Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, 48 pages. The Communist League commissioned Marx and Engels to write this political pamphlet that revolutionized the way the world thought about class and capital. International Publishers
Anthem Ayn Rand, 80 pages. On the opposite end of the political spectrum, Rand’s dystopian novella about a man who would not conform to his society’s regulations celebrated fierce individualism.Cassell
Heart of Darkness By Joseph Conrad, 72 pages. Protagonist Marlow, working for an ivory-trading company, travels up the Congo River in search of renegade Kurtz in this story that probes the truth about civilization. Norton Critical Edition
Symposium By Plato, 80 pages. Partygoers take turns giving speeches on the nature of love in this philosophical work that originated the concept of the Platonic relationship.Oxford
The Awakening By Kate Chopin, 96 pages. Edna Pontellier realizes her life as a wife and mother has left her grossly unfulfilled and attempts for the first time to liberate herself in this early feminist novel.H.S. Stone & Co.
The Prince By Niccolò Machiavelli, 80 pages. The political treatise that drove home the point that the ends justify the means—giving us the handy term “Machiavellian.”Antonio Blado d'Asola.
The Art of War By Sun Tzu, 68 pages. The cunning yet ruthless ancient Chinese military handbook has proved instructive for centuries—Tony even made use of it in The Sopranos. Nabla
The Yellow Wallpaper By Charlotte Perkins Gilman, 70 pages. A woman goes slowly insane after being confined to a creepy attic room by her husband.The New England Magazine
The Little Prince By Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, 96 pages. A boy from a mysterious planet teaches a pilot stranded in the desert about love, imagination and the tragedy of adulthood.Reynal & Hitchcock
The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man By James Weldon Johnson, 92 pages. The narrator of this 1912 novel is a black man with fair skin who decides to “pass” as white after witnessing a brutal lynching. He accordingly gives up his dream of creating a new African American musical genre, and looks back years later feeling that he made the wrong decision, “that I have sold my birthright for a mess of pottage.”Sherman, French, & Co.
The Turn of the Screw By Henry James, 96 pages. Two children and their new governess are at the center of this chilling ghost story.The Macmillan Company

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