Announcing Novellas in November!

Lots of us make a habit of prioritizing novellas in our November reading. (Who can resist that alliteration?) Perhaps you’ve been finding it hard to focus on books with all the bad news around, and your reading target for the year is looking out of reach. If you’re beset by distractions or only have brief bits of free time in your day, short books can be a boon.

In 2018 Laura Frey surveyed the history of Novellas in November, which has had various incarnations but no particular host. This year Cathy of 746 Books and I are co-hosting it as a month-long challenge with four weekly prompts. We’ll both put up an opening post on 1 November where you can leave your links throughout the month, to be rounded up on the 30th, and we’ll take turns introducing a theme each Monday.

The definition of a novella is loose – it’s based on word count rather than number of pages – but we suggest aiming for 150 pages or under, with a firm upper limit of 200 pages. Any genre is valid. As author Joe Hill (the son of Stephen King) has said, a novella should be “all killer, no filler.” With distinctive characters, intense scenes and sharp storytelling, the best novellas can draw you in for a memorable reading experience – maybe even in one sitting.

It’s always a busy month in the blogging world, what with Nonfiction November, German Literature Month, Australia Reading Month, and Margaret Atwood Reading Month. Why not search your shelves and/or local library for novellas that count towards multiple challenges? See Cathy’s recent post for ideas of how books can overlap on a few categories. Or you might choose a short Atwood novel, like Surfacing (186 pages) or The Penelopiad (199 pages).

2–8 November: Contemporary fiction (Cathy)

9–15 November: Nonfiction novellas (Rebecca)

16–22 November: Literature in translation (Cathy)

23–29 November: Short classics (Rebecca)

We’re looking forward to having you join us! Keep in touch via Twitter (@bookishbeck / @cathy746books) and Instagram (@bookishbeck / @cathy_746books) and feel free to use the terrific feature image Cathy made and the hashtag #NovNov.


My stacks of possibilities for the four weeks (with a library haul of mostly lit in translation to follow).

Bonus points for three of the below being November review books!

49 responses

  1. OK, I’m in. I don’t think I have any unread novellas kicking around at home so I’ll have to get down to the library. First make a list though …. And, erm, without wishing to appear too ignorant, what’s a non-fiction novella?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hurrah! I base the challenge entirely on the book length, so for me it’s any work of nonfiction of around 150 pages or fewer.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. OK. Thinking cap time.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. My second photo above has the nonfiction titles I’ll be choosing from this year. I’ll also launch that second week of November with a rundown of some of my favourite novella-length nonfiction from previous years’ reading.

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    3. One idea for you might be the series of short, single-species nature studies that Jim Crumley and John Lewis-Stempel have written in recent years. (I’ve reviewed one or two of each.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’d thought of Lewis-Stempel too. I don’t know Jim Crumley so I’ll follow that up – thanks.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Coincidentally, I’m about to start a novella in translation today: Nana Ekvtimishvili’s The Pear Field, translated by Elizabeth Heighway. I’m sure I’ll be adding to my TBR list throughout the month

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I considered that latest Peirene but decided not to ask for a review copy this time. I’ll be interested to hear what you make of it. There are several great publishers bringing out short works in translation: Charco, And Other Stories, Pushkin, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Charco published one of my books of last year: Selva Amada’s The Wind that Lays Waste, also a novella.

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    2. I reviewed that one for Women in Translation Month last year 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is really good news, and I hope to squeeze at least one novella into the many challenges of November. Some lovely piles of books there, a number of which I have read and loved… ;D

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s the wonderful thing about novellas: so easy to squeeze in! Several of the month’s challenges will overlap for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love your stacks! Lots of great reads there – getting excited about this now 🙂

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    1. They’re slightly overwhelming … but also enticing! Basically, I consider any project that gets me to read from my own shelves a bonus.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Also forgot to say – I LOVED Tinkers…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh, I’m really looking forward to that one. A Pulitzer Prize winner, too.

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  6. I have a pile ready and waiting!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Excellent! I knew we could count on you.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I like the idea of reading Surfacing to tick off MARM too, I first read it about 30 years ago and really have no memory of it at all.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I read it for MARM a couple of years ago and really liked it.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. That’s quite the pile! I’ve only read Mrs Dalloway out of all of them. I will of course be participating in some capacity, probably with Margaret Atwood’s 153-page sorta-non fiction Good Bones! I better prepare a Venn diagram.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Awesome! That’s an Atwood I know nothing about.

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  9. I love the theme weeks – so much fun! And your novella stacks are amazing. I’d love to get right into it with the themes, but that’s probably not in the cards this year – however, I will definitely read something!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No problem! Just post whenever you like in the month and you’ll be added into the roundup.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. As ever, I won’t be joining in because novellas aren’t my thing, but I loved An Education! There was a point when everyone seemed to be reading Tinkers – I think Mr B’s bookshop had it as one of their picks? I think I liked it, but I can’t remember anything about it…

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    1. I bet you can think of more than one book under 200 pages that you enjoyed! 😉 What about Ghost Wall?

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      1. I did like Ghost Wall but I thought it was too short!

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  11. La Douleur is beautiful, hard, but beautiful.
    Bonjour tristesse is totally different but excellent.
    Happy reading!

    I’m going to look for German / Australian novellas. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wonderful! I’ll see if my library has any German novellas in translation, too.

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  12. I was thinking of looking through my collection of Pereine Titles but your photo reminded me I have a Helene Hanff lurking somewhere.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Any Peirenes you have hanging around would be a great choice. I’ve only ever read 84 Charing Cross Road, so it will be interesting to see if I like her other work.

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  13. I’ve got a list of a few here at home, that I’ll aim to squeeze in, around my Atwood reading in November. I probably won’t be able to post about them on BIP but somewhere else online with that handy little hashtag!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No worries! You’ve been busy with Giller reading and then you’ve got MARM posts to keep up with. Even just a tweeted photo of your stack would be appreciated 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  14. […] November reading”, says Cathy Brown from 746 Books in a post announcing her latest reading jolly, Novellas in November – though, she’s aware that in recent months you may well have found it difficult to “focus on […]

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  15. […] November reading”, says Cathy Brown from 746 Books in a post announcing her latest reading jolly, Novellas in November – though, she’s aware that in recent months you may well have found it difficult to “focus on […]

    Like

  16. […] in November (Cathy) or Novellas in November (Rebecca) is new-to-me, but sounds perfect for the fiction I will read in November. Here’s […]

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  17. […] big thing next month will, of course, be Novellas in November, which I’m co-hosting with Cathy of 746 Books as a month-long challenge with four weekly prompts. […]

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  18. […] in November (Cathy) or Novellas in November (Rebecca) has weekly themes schedule, if you enjoy that sort of thing. Each theme starts on […]

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  19. […] this is a challenge which has a bit of a chequered history, but this year is being hosted by Bookish Beck and 746 Books! I love a good novella, although there are only a couple of potential titles knocking […]

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  20. […] is being hosted by Bookish Beck and Cathy at 746 […]

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  21. […] is hosted by Lizzy and Caroline, AusReading Month, by Brona, Novella in November, by Rebecca at Bookish Beck and Cathy at 746Books. And there’s also Non-Fiction […]

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  22. […] Projects: European Reading Challenge, hosted by Gilion; Read More German Books in 2020, hosted by Mel and Britta; German Lit Month, hosted by Lizzy and Caroline; Novellas in November, hosted by Cathy and Rebecca. […]

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  23. […] of Books; Back to the Classics, hosted by Karen; Novellas in November, hosted by Cathy and Rebecca; Nonfiction November, hosted by Rennie over at What’s Non-Fiction, Katie at Doing Dewey, Julie […]

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  24. […] Projects: A Century of Books; Back to the Classics, hosted by Karen ; Read More German Books in 2020, hosted by Mel and Britta; German Lit Month, hosted by Lizzy and Caroline; Novellas in November, hosted by Cathy and Rebecca. […]

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  25. […] Projects: The Classics Club; Back to the Classics, hosted by Karen; Novellas in November, hosted by Cathy and Rebecca […]

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  26. […] two bloggers running the challenge, Rebecca at Bookish Beck and Cathy at 746books, say that a novella is defined by a word count (17,500 – 39,999 or […]

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  27. I’ve finally written the introductory blog post I should have written at the beginning of the month: https://marketgardenreader.wordpress.com/2020/11/28/novellas-in-november-novnov/ I’ve loved this challenge. I feel really accomplished after reading so many books. And now to write the blogs to match the books!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed taking part! The End of the Affair is on my own stack of half-read novellas… 😉

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  28. […] doing better with Novellas in November. I even managed to post this in the right […]

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