You blinked and, boom, summer is almost over. It’s incredible how fast time flies with kids and it goes by even faster when you factor in summer hours at the office, holiday weekends and family vacations. All hopes you once held at the beginning of the summer to finally tackle that backyard project or try that new restaurant or even read a book before the kids head back to school are slipping away. But there’s still time for that last one. Chances are you slacked off during English class in high school, therefore there’s probably a pretty long list of classic books you’ve never read. We’ve compiled a list of books that we know you can knock out before summer ends. You won’t find such classics as Camus’ The Stranger, Orwell’s Animal Farm, Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, or Hemmingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. Those short classics, believe it or not, are too long for this list. The 14 books that follow are all under 100 pages and all under 10 bucks to buy.


Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad ($7) 78 pages

“Heart of Darkness (1899) is a short novel by Polish novelist Joseph Conrad, written as a frame narrative, about Charles Marlow’s experience as an ivory transporter down the Congo River in Central Africa. The river is “a mighty big river, that you could see on the map, resembling an immense snake uncoiled, with its head in the sea, its body at rest curving afar over a vast country, and its tail lost in the depths of the land”. In the course of his travel in central Africa, Marlow becomes obsessed with Mr. Kurtz. The story is a complex exploration of the attitudes people hold on what constitutes a barbarian versus a civilized society and the attitudes on colonialism and racism that were part and parcel of European imperialism.”



The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka ($3) 44 pages

“The Metamorphosis (original German title: “Die Verwandlung”) is a short novel by Franz Kafka, first published in 1915. It is often cited as one of the seminal works of fiction of the 20th century and is widely studied in colleges and universities across the western world. The story begins with a traveling salesman, Gregor Samsa, waking to find himself transformed into an insect.”



The Dead by James Joyce ($5) 44 pages

“Often cited as the best work of short fiction ever written, “The Dead” is the final short story in the 1914 collection Dubliners by James Joyce. Rightfully considered a short story masterpiece, “The Dead” tells the tale of a man (Gabriel) who, at a party hosted by his aunts in Dublin in the early part of the 20th century, has a moment of self-realization and spiritual awakening when his wife tells him about a relationship she had as a young girl with a youth who loved her passionately.”



Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott ($5) 64 pages

“Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions is an 1884 satirical novella by the English schoolmaster Edwin Abbott Abbott. Writing pseudonymously as “A Square”, the book used the fictional two-dimensional world of Flatland to comment on the hierarchy of Victorian culture, but the novella’s more enduring contribution is its examination of dimensions.”



The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman ($2) 16 pages (seriously)

“The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a short story that, despite its length, is largely regarded as one of the most important feminist texts ever written. The story itself follows a woman’s slow descent into madness when she and her husband spend the summer in a large mansion. The text discusses many themes that would not come to light until years later, such as male dominance and women being trapped in the home. Through this, The Yellow Wallpaper masterfully blends story and theme, showing many attitude surrounding women’s health as well as their physical and mental well-being.”



The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell ($4) 46 pages

“Short and sweet, Richard Connell’s masterpiece reads as well as it did when it was written 86 years ago. A model in lean prose that sticks to the story without unnecessary embellishment, “The Most Dangerous Game” manages to expose weighty issues of war, ecology, and especially human nature that remain relevant today. Yet there is no preaching here – simply a well-told tale that will be enjoyed by grade school students as easily as adults.”



The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry ($6) 96 pages

“Few stories are as widely read and as universally cherished by children and adults alike as The Little Prince. Richard Howard’s translation of the beloved classic beautifully reflects Saint-Exupéry’s unique and gifted style. Howard, an acclaimed poet and one of the preeminent translators of our time, has excelled in bringing the English text as close as possible to the French, in language, style, and most important, spirit. The artwork in this edition has been restored to match in detail and in color Saint-Exupéry’s original artwork. Combining Richard Howard’s translation with restored original art, this definitive English-language edition of The Little Prince will capture the hearts of readers of all ages.”



The Art Of War by Sun Tzu ($4) 52 pages

“Written in the 6th century B.C., The Art of War remains the ultimate guide to combat strategy. Sun Tzu explains when and how to engage opponents in order to prevail in difficult situations. Instead of describing the logistics of warfare, he shows the reader how to succeed by motivating soldiers and leveraging tactical advantages. In short, he explains how to win the battle of wits. Though it was written for the battlefield, The Art of War contains valuable advice for other endeavors as well. Tzu’s work has been lauded by sports coaches, business executives, and other leaders of the 21st century.”



The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx & Frederick Engels ($2) 48 pages

“The Communist Manifesto, originally titled Manifesto of the Communist Party (German: Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei) is a short 1848 book written by the German Marxist political theorists Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. It has since been recognized as one of the world’s most influential political manuscripts. Commissioned by the Communist League, it laid out the League’s purposes and program. It presents an analytical approach to the class struggle (historical and present) and the problems of capitalism, rather than a prediction of communism’s potential future forms.”



The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli ($2) 80 pages

“As a young Florentine envoy to the courts of France and the Italian principalities, Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) was able to observe firsthand the lives of people strongly united under one powerful ruler. His fascination with that political rarity and his intense desire to see the Medici family assume a similar role in Italy provided the foundation for his “primer for princes.” In this classic guide to acquiring and maintaining political power, Machiavelli used a rational approach to advise prospective rulers, developing logical arguments and alternatives for a number of potential problems, among them governing hereditary monarchies, dealing with colonies and the treatment of conquered peoples. Refreshing in its directness, yet often disturbing in its cold practicality, The Prince sets down a frighteningly pragmatic formula for political fortune.”



The Call of the Wild by Jack London ($7) 66 pages

“The Call of the Wild is a novel by Jack London published in 1903. The story is set in the Yukon during the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush—a period when strong sled dogs were in high demand. The novel’s central character is a dog named Buck, a domesticated dog living at a ranch in the Santa Clara valley of California as the story opens. Stolen from his home and sold into the brutal existence of an Alaskan sled dog, he reverts to atavistic traits. Buck is forced to adjust to, and survive, cruel treatments and fight to dominate other dogs in a harsh climate. Eventually he sheds the veneer of civilization, relying on primordial instincts and lessons he learns, to emerge as a leader in the wild.”



Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky ($3) 96 pages

“In 1864, just prior to the years in which he wrote his greatest novels — Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, The Possessed and The Brothers Karamazov — Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821–1881) penned the darkly fascinating Notes from the Underground. Its nameless hero is a profoundly alienated individual in whose brooding self-analysis there is a search for the true and the good in a world of relative values and few absolutes. Moreover, the novel introduces themes — moral, religious, political and social — that dominated Dostoyevsky’s later works. Notes from the Underground, then, aside from its own compelling qualities, offers readers an ideal introduction to the creative imagination, profundity and uncanny psychological penetration of one of the most influential novelists of the nineteenth century.”



Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu ($5) 86 pages

“Unusual among the scriptures of the world’s religions, the Tao Te Ching is not a chronicle of gods and heroes. Instead, it is a series of meditations on the mysterious nature of the Tao–the Way, the guiding principle, the source of all existence. According to the author Lao Tzu (a name meaning “the old master”), the Tao is found where we would least expect it–not in the strong but in the weak; not in speech but in silence; not in doing but in “not-doing.” Wise yet worldly, spiritual yet practical, the Tao Te Ching is beloved by seekers all the world over.”



The Possession by Annie Ernaux ($9) 62 pages

“Self-regard, in the works of Annie Ernaux, is always an excruciatingly painful and exact process. Here, she revisits the peculiar kind of self-fulfillment possible when we examine ourselves in the aftermath of a love affair, and sometimes, even, through the eyes of the lost beloved.” 


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