Reading in the sun

The 5 Best Novellas to Enjoy During Lockdown

Written by on 21st April 2020
Category: Business

Lockdown presents many challenges, not least to those of us working from home. The limited contact we have with the outside world undoubtedly takes its toll, and as we at SilverDoor Apartments are more than aware, finding ways to keep your mind and body sharp and active is crucial to staying sane in these challenging times. Our team has already sought solutions, from juggling work life and family life, to maintaining your mental health and optimising your working from home experience. Of equal importance, reading allows us to broaden our minds, visit new worlds and consider new experiences. When you’re not binging on a good box set, why not pick up a good book and get lost in a story that will stay with you for a lifetime? Even if you’re not typically someone who reads, novellas (short form novels) are quick to read and may just be the start of a new hobby. Peruse our list of the 5 best novellas and begin broadening your horizons.

1. Anthem by Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand is often portrayed as a champion of capitalism

The late Ayn Rand is a somewhat divisive figure in today’s political climate, with her philosophy often used to illustrate the pros (and cons) of modern capitalism in political discussions. But political philosophy aside, Anthem is a simple yet astonishingly effective novella to be enjoyed by all. Set in a dystopian future in which society has succumbed to a second Dark Age, this is a tale filled with hardships, hope, love and self-belief; culminating in a stirring and life-affirming climax. Anthem will transport you into the life and trials of its narrator, ‘Equality 7-2521’, and at just over 100 pages, can be read in a matter of hours. However, Anthem’s story of individualism will linger in your mind for years to come, putting it high on the list of must read novels.

Available as a paperback and Kindle e-book on Amazon.

2. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway's The Old Man and The Sea is rated as one of the best novellas.
Hemingway’s love of Cuba, and the stories he wrote there, live on in its modern culture

No list of all-time best novellas would be complete without Hemingway’s classic, The Old Man and the Sea. Part fable, part redemption story, The Old Man and the Sea follows Santiago, an aging, downtrodden fisherman in Cuba, as he pursues a giant Marlin after going months without catching a single fish. This seemingly simplistic story evokes our empathy and plays on our fears as Santiago hopelessly struggles to succeed in his quest atop the lonely azure waters of the Gulf Stream. A perfect read for sitting in a sunny garden and escaping to the Cuban waves, The Old Man and the Sea is a mere 128 pages and is an excellent introduction to Hemingway’s oeuvre.    

Available as a paperback and Kindle e-book on Amazon.

3. Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King

many of the best novellas are written by stephen king
Stephen King is one of the best selling authors of all time, with his books featuring prominently on countless bookshelves

Best known for its film adaptation, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption is hailed as one of King’s (many) masterpieces. Telling the harrowing story of Andy Dufresne and his wrongful conviction for murder, Shawshank is a gripping read detailing Andy’s hellish experiences in prison, as well as the invaluable friendships he forms during his incarceration. Detailing a lifetime’s worth of humiliations, horrors, victories and failures, Andy’s journey is equal part fantastical and frighteningly feasible. For fans of the film, the original text is well worth a read as it features some surprising twists not featured in the cinematic release. As a book that you simply won’t want to put down, Shawshank is undoubtedly one of the best novellas ever written.   

Available as a paperback and Kindle e-book (as part of a collection) on Amazon.

4. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

yellow wallpaper is one of the best novellas
Yellow wallpaper takes on an ominous presence of its own in this chilling tale

This relatively obscure classic in many ways makes for a timely read. Narrated by the protagonist – a young woman who has recently bore a child – The Yellow Wallpaper details in the first person her gradual descent into insanity. Instructed to rest for the summer in the upstairs nursery of a mansion by her physician husband, the narrator becomes fascinated and sickened by the room’s wallpaper, which, like her mind, begins to crumble and become distorted in isolation. Published in 1892, this short work was a hugely influential piece which challenged the treatment of women at the time, especially in medicine. Brief but haunting, The Yellow Wallpaper is a powerful and captivating story with all the hallmarks of one of the best novellas of all time.

Available as a paperback and Kindle e-book on Amazon.

5. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

Kafka author of the best novellas
A suitably surreal Kafka statue stands in Prague, his birthplace

The original body horror story and inspiration behind countless stories and films, including the Cronenberg classic ‘The Fly’, The Metamorphosis is a mind bending novella with a depth of meaning that carries into the very soul of its reader. Embedded in popular culture since its controversial release in 1915, most are vaguely familiar with this outlandish story of a man turning into a giant insect. Often perceived as being too silly to bother reading, or too erudite to understand, it isn’t a book many would consider picking up. But within its 102 pages this book tells a story so unbelievable, so darkly humorous and ultimately so tragic, it isn’t hard to find parallels with our own experiences of feeling isolated, outcast and ignored. Follow the events of humble salesman Gregor Samsa’s worst day and the consequences that follow in this, one of the most amazing books to read during lockdown.

Available as a paperback and Kindle e-book on Amazon.

We hope you enjoyed reading our selection of the best novellas – if you do read one of the above books we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Think we should’ve included another novella that tops your list? Let us know, and tell us why it deserves to be in the top 5. For more inspiration of how to make the most of your time at home, read our guide to 15 things worth watching in isolation to find your next addictive TV series.