Top Ten Tuesday: Short Stories & Novellas

Top Ten Tuesday is a challenge hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl that’s all about books! Each week, we are asked to list ten bookish recommendations that can be based on anything from fictional worlds and characters, to colours on book covers.

Top Ten Tuesday

This Week’s Prompt: 10 of the best short stories & novellas.

This is quite a tough challenge for me because, although I do read a lot of short stories and novellas, I don’t always write reviews for them, which makes it difficult for me to keep track of them. This is something that I want to change, though; why doesn’t a shorter work deserve an honest review? I’ll warn you, though, this list is almost exclusively filled with classics (I couldn’t tell you why).

My Top 10 Short Stories/Novellas

#1 – “The Bottle Imp” by Robert Louis Stevenson.

This short story was written in the Victorian period and is included in my copy of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. It truly is a fantastic story that is far more interesting than Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. It’s all about superstition, love and sacrifice and is, in my opinion, completely underrated.
You can read my review of “The Bottle Imp” here.

#2 – The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood.

Margaret Atwood’s Penelopiad is the only novella on my list that was written during this century. It’s a clever, feminist take on Homer’s The Odyssey, and I absolutely adore it. I have always loved the Greek myths and legends, and have read The Odyssey a couple of times now. The Penelopiad is original and exceptionally clever. I would recommend it to anyone with any knowledge of the ancient world.
You can read my review of The Penelopiad here.

#3 – A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

I feel as though I have been talking about A Christmas Carol lot over the last few weeks, but it seems to keep cropping up. It is a Victorian novella that is well known throughout the world. When I read it a few weeks ago, it really impressed me. It’s not only a heart-warming story of love and redemption, but there’s also a lot to consider from a more critical perspective.
You can read my review of A Christmas Carol here.

#4 – The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle.

I’m including The Sign of Four on this list, along with A Study in Scarlet, although there seems to be some debate as to whether these works are novellas or novels. The Sign of Four is the second long work in Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes collection. It’s a thrilling story and one that I thoroughly enjoyed.
You can read my review of The Sign of Four here.

#5 – Animal Farm by George Orwell.

I listened to Animal Farm on audiobook a long time ago. I honestly cannot remember how old I was, but I loved it. Many people my age aren’t keen on this book as they studied it at school, but I never had this experience, so I view it only as a wonderful story (with some serious capitalist undertones).

#6 – The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.

Here’s another one that I read a long time ago. My review of The Heart of Darkness was actually the first ever review that I posted on this blog. According to this, I must have read the novella sometime in 2015. It’s a very vivid tale that I nevertheless struggled with. Joseph Conrad uses some extremely descriptive language that sometimes makes the story difficult to decipher. It is a wonderful tale, though, and is one that I hope to revisit in the near future.
You can read my review of The Heart of Darkness here.

#7 – Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.

Now, here’s a novella that I did study at school. During this time (I was probably about sixteen), I didn’t really enjoy the story, but now that I reconsider it, it really is a wonderful piece of literature. The story is not only interesting but also extraordinarily powerful. The characters are well developed and the setting is remarkably vivid, making this novella yet another work that I wish to reread.

#8 – A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle.

I really enjoyed this introduction to the Sherlock Holmes collection, although I did find it a little harder to follow than The Sign of Four. The narrative jumps around a little too much (as we travel around the world), and I felt at times as though I was being bombarded with information. Nevertheless, this is a wonderful story and the case kept me guessing right up until the end.
You can read my review of A Study in Scarlet here.

#9 – “The Dead” by James Joyce.

This short story is an interesting one, as it doesn’t contain a lot of action. It instead focusses on its characters, as well as its setting. This is a story that takes everyday occurrences (such as a feast) and places them under a magnifying glass as we are brought face to face with issues such as Irish Nationalism,  are forced to consider the sheer power of death.
You can read my review of “The Dead” here.

#10 – Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.

I read this novella quite recently and have very mixed feelings about it. It’s another one that I studied in school, but I found its pace rather slow and confusing. Upon revisiting it, I found it less confusing, but still rather slow. The idea behind the story is, of course, awe-inspiring, and the last few chapters of this book contain some of the best writing that I have ever read. So, if you can get past its beginning, this work certainly one to be admired.
You can read my reivew of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde here.

Well, that’s it! Thanks for stopping by to read this Top Ten Tuesday post! By this time next week, I should have another book list posted. In the meantime, if you have any thoughts for me, please do leave me a comment below – what’s your favourite short story or novella?


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20 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Short Stories & Novellas

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    1. Thank you so much! I hadn’t heard of it either until I saw it at the back of Jekyll and Hyde; I suppose it’s just one that has slipped through the net! Thanks for reading ☺️

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  1. Wow, that’s a good list! I wish I had time to read for pleasure that much, but between emails, reviews for bloggers books, study material for my writing, and different stories on Medium publications, I rarely have time for what I WANT to read, like the Stephen King book on my bedside table, or the classic Led Zeppelin story, Hammer of the Gods. I just discovered free audio flash fiction on a Medium pub called Lit Up. Maybe I’ll listen to some more of those while doing my chores. 😊

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    1. Thank you ever so much! ☺️ Reading for pleasure is something that I always thought that I didn’t have time for, but as soon as I started, I was able to make time for it! Having said that though, you do sound awfully busy! 😉 I can seriously recommend audiobooks; I usually tend to have one on the go that I can listen to on the train or when I’m walking to work… it’s such an easy format and can be really enjoyable.

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    1. Thank you so much! A lot of these classics didn’t (to me at least) seem like novellas; I believed most of them to be full-length novels before I double checked.

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  2. Ooh very nice list! So I did read some for school- namely Animal Farm and Of Mice and Men- but actually they were two of the books that I had to read that I didn’t totally hate, so we’ll count that as a win haha. I had no idea that The Penelopiad was so short, and since I have been wanting to read some of the author’s other stuff… I think I just may give that a try!

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    1. Thank you! ☺️ Haha I can see that; even though they’re studied frequently, they’re actually really good stories. I can thoroughly recommend the Penelopiad – it’s a brilliant little novella and helped introduce me to Atwood’s style.

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    1. There are so many stories! I sometimes think it’s a good thing that I’m listening to them on audiobook, as it means that I can’t see quite how long they all are! I do recommend them though ☺️.

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