21 Short Books to Help You Reach Your Reading Goal Before 2023 Ends

because yes, there's still time

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Source: @michellereadsbooks
Source: @michellereadsbooks

The year is winding down, which means many things: attending holiday parties galore, thinking about resolutions, searching for the perfect gifts, and, perhaps most crucially, hitting your reading goal. Whether you set out to read 20 books or 100, these next few weeks are your last opportunity to hit the goal you set at the beginning of the year. The easiest way to get there? Reading short books, of course.

Searching the internet for “short books” or books under a certain page length can be intimidating and time-consuming, so we’ve taken the guesswork out of it by putting together this list of 21 books that are around or under 300 pages. Some are slightly longer and a few are under 100 pages, but these novels are definitely ones that you’d be able to fly through before the year is over.

From thrillers to romance novels to short stories to historical fiction, these 21 books are perfect for downloading on your Kindle and padding your reading challenge.

Matt Haig
The Midnight Library

Somewhere, out beyond the edge of the universe, there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?

Page count: 304

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Kanae Minato

After calling off her engagement in the wake of a tragic revelation, Yuko Moriguchi had nothing to live for except her only child, 4-year-old Manami. Now, following an accident on the grounds of the middle school where she teaches, Yuko has given up and tendered her resignation. But first, she has one last lecture to deliver. She tells a story that upends everything her students ever thought they knew about two of their peers and sets in motion a diabolical plot for revenge.

Page count: 234

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Iain Reid
I’m Thinking of Ending Things

This deeply scary and intensely unnerving novel follows a couple in the midst of a twisted unraveling of the darkest unease. You will be scared. But you won’t know why…

“I’m thinking of ending things. Once this thought arrives, it stays. It sticks. It lingers. It’s always there. Always. Jake once said, ‘Sometimes a thought is closer to truth, to reality, than an action. You can say anything, you can do anything, but you can’t fake a thought.’ And here’s what I’m thinking: I don’t want to be here.”

Page count: 256

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E. Lockhart
We Were Liars

This story starts as an innocent and idyllic beach story that will have you wanting to take a vacation to an East Coast private island, but by the end, you’ll be so shook that you’ll be thinking about this book for days. It’s full of family secrets and mystery, and its famous twist is one you just have to read for yourself.

Page count: 320

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Gillian Flynn
Sharp Objects

Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker faces a troubling assignment: She must return to her tiny hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. For years, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful 13-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed in her old bedroom in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Dogged by her own demons, she must unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past if she wants to get the story—and survive this homecoming.

Page count: 254

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Rebecca Serle
In Five Years

Dannie’s meticulous planning seems to have paid off after she nails the most important job interview of her career and accepts her boyfriend’s marriage proposal in one fell swoop, falling asleep completely content. But when she awakens, she’s suddenly in a different apartment, with a different ring on her finger, and beside a very different man. Dannie spends one hour exactly five years in the future before she wakes again in her own home on the brink of midnight—but it is one hour she cannot shake.

Page count: 288

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Shari Lapena
The Couple Next Door

Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all: a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night, when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately lands on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story. Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they’ve kept for years.

Page count: 336

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Celeste Ng
Everything I Never Told You

This story is about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that had been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos.

Page count: 297

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Zinzi Clemmons
What We Lose

Raised in Pennsylvania, Thandi views the world of her mother’s childhood in Johannesburg as both impossibly distant and ever present. She is an outsider wherever she goes, caught between being Black and white, American and not. She tries to connect these dislocated pieces of her life, and as her mother succumbs to cancer, Thandi searches for an anchor—someone, or something, to love.

Page count: 224

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Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Mexican Gothic

After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region. Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid of the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place. She may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

Page count: 320

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Agatha Christie
Murder on the Orient Express

Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Without a shred of doubt, one of his fellow passengers is the murderer. Isolated by the storm, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer among a dozen of the dead man’s enemies before the murderer decides to strike again.

Page count: 288

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Ashley Audrain
The Push

Blythe Connor is determined that she will be the warm, comforting mother to her new baby Violet that she herself never had. But in the thick of motherhood’s exhausting early days, Blythe becomes convinced that something is wrong with her daughter—she doesn’t behave like most children do. Or is it all in Blythe’s head? Her husband, Fox, says she’s imagining things. The more Fox dismisses her fears, the more Blythe begins to question her own sanity and the more we begin to question what Blythe is telling us about her life as well.

Page count: 320

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Taylor Jenkins Reid
Evidence of the Affair

A desperate young woman in Southern California sits down to write a letter to a man she’s never met—a choice that will forever change both their lives. The correspondence between Carrie Allsop and David Mayer reveals, piece by piece, the painful details of a devastating affair between their spouses. With each commiserating scratch of the pen, they confess their fears and bare their souls. They share the bewilderment over how things went so wrong and come to wonder where to go from here.

Page count: 80

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T. Kingfisher

Toadling is a human who, on the day of her birth, was stolen from her family by the faeries. She grew up safe in faerieland, but once she turns 18, the faeries ask her to return to the human world and offer a blessing of protection to a newborn child. Centuries later, a knight approaches a mysterious wall of brambles, on a mission to break the curse that Toadling has placed on the area and will do anything to uphold. Thornhedge is the story of a kind-hearted heroine, a gentle knight, and a mission gone sideways.

Page count: 116

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Becky Chambers
A Psalm for the Wild-Built

Centuries ago, the robots of the land of Panga laid down their tools and wandered into the wilderness, fading into myth and urban legend. Now, the life of a tea monk is upended by the return of a robot, who has arrived to make good on the robots’ promise to check in on the human race. The robot cannot return to the wild until the question, “What do people need?” is answered, but the problem is that the answer to this question depends on who you ask.

Page count: 147

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Alix E. Harrow
A Spindle Splintered

When she was young, an industrial accident left Zinnia with a rare condition—no one knows anything about the disease, aside from the fact that no one suffering from it has ever lived past age 21. Zinnia’s best friend, Charm, is intent on making her twenty-first birthday special with a sleeping beauty-inspired experience, complete with a tower and spindle. But when Zinnia pricks her finger, she finds herself falling through worlds, desperate to escape her fate.

Page count: 119

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Toshikazu Kawaguchi
Before the Coffee Gets Cold

A small back alley in Tokyo houses a coffee shop that offers both delicious coffee and the chance to travel back in time. In this book, we meet four visitors to the coffee shop, each of whom has come to travel back in time for a different reason. However, the rules of the coffee shop demand that they sit in a particular seat, remain in the café, and return to the present before the coffee gets cold.

Page count: 213

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Jennette McCurdy
I’m Glad My Mom Died

This award-winning memoir from former child actress Jennette McCurdy details her struggles with eating disorders, addiction, and a complicated relationship with her mother at the beginning of her career. In unflinching detail, Jennette recounts everything her mother did to shape her into a perfect star, plus what happened when she finally did achieve her mother’s big dream by starring on a Nickelodeon television show. Full of candid dark humor, I’m Glad My Mom Died is a story of resilience and independence.

Page count: 320

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R.F. Kuang

June Hayward and Athena Liu were destined to be twin rising stars: They graduated the same year at Yale and had the same publishing year for their debut books. But Athena Liu is a cross-genre literary darling, and June’s book is going unread. When June witnesses Athena’s death in a freak accident, she steals Athena’s just-finished book on the contributions of Chinese laborers to the British and French war efforts in WWI. As June attempts to keep up her lie, she finds it increasingly challenging to escape Athena’s shadow.

Page count: 329

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Mary Kay Andrews
The Santa Suit

Newly-divorced Ivy Perkins is looking for a change in her life, so she buys an old farmhouse called The Four Roses, not knowing that clearing through the former residents’ furniture will become a full-time job. She finds an old Santa suit at the top of a closet, and when she discovers a note in the pocket, it sends her on a mission to unravel a mystery. Her quest leads her into the community during a time when all she wanted to do was be left alone to lick her wounds.

Page count: 224

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Ali Hazelwood
Below Zero

Hannah is a NASA aerospace engineer, who, after a series of unfortunate events, finds herself stranded at the remote Arctic research station. The one person who’s willing to make the dangerous rescue mission? That would be Hannah’s longtime rival, Ian. This fellow scientist once tried to veto her expedition, but is now going out of his way to save her.

Page count: 139

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