Shaun December 13, 2018
6 novellas to read while travelling

If there is one thing I love more than travelling; it is reading a good book. I will read anything from biographies to cookbooks, but nothing comes close to the enjoyment of a well-crafted novel. When you are on the road or in the air, having a book to read is a priority for me. These days, I have an e-reader which I take everywhere. It gives me the flexibility to carry multiple books without the weight considerations of a pile of books.

I still read traditional books; it’s hard to beat with the feel of a real hard copy in your hands. Back in 2005, I was in Vienna, Austria about to catch a train to Prague in the Czech Republic. I stopped in a local bookshop and looked in the English language section for a book for my journey. There was not a great deal of choice and I ended up choosing The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton. If you are not familiar with the book, it is a coming of age novel, usually in the young adult fiction category. I doubt I would have chosen this book had there been more choice, but the limited selection pushed me out of my comfort zone, which is good in a way.

The train journey took just over four hours and was just enough time to finish the book, with an occasional break or two. Arriving in Prague, I felt a great sense of achievement and really enjoyed the book. It made me consider the potential fulfilment and benefits of reading shorter books when travelling.

The Outsiders is considered a short novel at 45,240 words. Novels are generally anything over 40,000 words but the definitions for differ by organisation. I began to read novellas while travelling, which are in between short stories and novels. A novella generally has a word count of between 17,500 to 40,000 words. With the average person able to read at 250 words per minute (WPM), a novella has enough content to keep you going for a few hours and is a great alternative to watching an inflight movie.

Below I have compiled a list of six novellas which you should be able to read in –

The House on Mango Street

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Word count: 33,550 words

How long will this take to read? 2 Hour 14 Minutes at 250 WPM

The House on Mango Street is the story of teenage Latina, Esperanza Cordero, who struggles with her life of poverty in Chicago. Told in a series of vignettes – sometimes heart-breaking, sometimes deeply joyous – she imagines who and what she will become. A very touching book and extremely poignant today as it explores the plight of marginalised Latinos struggling to survive in a dominantly white country.

The Call of the wild jack london

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

Word count: 26,535 words

How long will this take to read? 1 Hour 46 Minutes at 250 WPM

A story of survival in the frozen Alaskan Klondike, the book centres on a dog called buck who is stolen from a ranch in California and sold as a sled dog in Yukon, Canada. The story is based on London’s own experiences as a gold prospector in the Canadian wilderness. A great travel book with themes of isolation, struggle for existence, and an unbreakable spirit.

the pearl john steinbeck

The Pearl by John Steinbeck

Word count: 29,280 words

How long will this take to read? 1 Hour 57 Minutes at 250 WPM

This story is about a poor family of pearl divers, who discover an extremely valuable pearl. The book explores topics such as human nature, greed, defiance and social and cultural norms. How a happy family living a simple life can be destroyed by too much wealth. Steinbeck based the story on a Mexican Folk Tale he had heard in the pearl rich coastal region of La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico.

the time machine hg wells

The Time Machine by H. G. Wells

Word count: 28,670 words

How long will this take to read? 1 Hour 54 Minutes at 250 WPM

The original time travel story that spawned them all and the book that started H. G. Wells career. You would expect a Victorian era science fiction story to age poorly, but it is timeless (excuse the pun). I first read this book in my English literature class at school and chose to re-read it on a flight to Kuwait and I enjoyed it just as much now as I did the first time. A rare achievement.

Siddhartha

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

Word count: 30,500 words

How long will this take to read? 2 Hour 2 Minutes at 250 WPM

A simple book with a lot of wisdom. Hesse wrote the original version in German and uses very simple languages making this book quick and easy to read. Siddhartha is a common man looking for enlightenment. He loses himself in a materialistic world of drinking, gambling, and fornicating, and becomes a successful businessman but remains deeply unhappy. Eventually, he leads a simple life on the river and looks for meaning in his existence. I hope everyone can take something from this book.

the stranger albert camus

The Stranger by Albert Camus

Word count: 36,830 words

How long will this take to read? 2 Hour 27 Minutes at 250 WPM

In The Stranger the main character and narrator of the story, Meursault, is a French Algerian who is absurdly indifferent. He is a stranger in his own society and his indifference leads to great complications that highlight how people are expected to act. A man who doesn’t cry at his mother’s funeral will almost certainly be convicted of murder given the opportunity. So much hidden meaning and thought-provoking content in such a short book. Worth every word

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