I think I want to read novellas


I was flipping through Zite the other day and saw an article on the HuffPo about book length and how it’s dropping. Naturally I tweeted about it:


But, I got thinking some more about how I select books, and it’s not just about how many stories I can pack away.

I like to read a long series

I started reading the Honor Harrington series by David Weber a while ago on Steve Gibson‘s recommendation. I’ve finished eight books, so I’m about halfway. I’m reading e-books, so I don’t have a page count, but these books would be about 400-900 pages each on paper. Let’s say 600-ish on average, which is about ten hours of solid reading for me per book. I’d like to read the rest of the series, so soon I’ll commit to book nine, “Ashes of Victory“, at 672 pages (or 1107 KB, or 11 hours).

The first eight books spanned from good to excellent, and the universe is certainly fascinating, so book nine is a pretty safe bet, I suppose. Goodreads tells me most people like it. So does Amazon (less so). I’ve already spent 80 hours learning about the world, so the buy-in is pretty cheap.

I have commitment issues

If I were to consider starting another series, I’d have to think pretty hard about it. I tried Steven Erikson’s “Gardens of the Moon: Book One of The Malazan Book of the Fallen” (that is a long title); the preface warned me that it would take a third of the book to get into it (that’s 222 “pages”). At 50% I still felt lost. At 100% I still felt lost. I don’t understand how the magic system works at all, so I found it too frustrating. I don’t think I’ll read the next bazillion books in the series because of it, although the writing was otherwise very compelling. I can’t spend 100 hours being confused. I can’t commit to maybe finding my way.

I’ve tried some short stories

I find them a little, well, short. They’re interesting, and they get me thinking about stuff, but I’m usually not satisfied. They feel incomplete to me, as though they’re a snippet of a story. They tease me with a world, but can’t seem to get enough of the magic system down for me. Perhaps I haven’t read the right ones.

I read “Legion” in audiobook

I enjoy audiobooks a lot if they’re well-narrated, and I despise them a lot if they’re poorly narrated. Legion had the right narrator (Oliver Wyman) and was a good story besides (by Brandon Sanderson). It qualifies as a novella (at 88 “pages”, somewhere around 20 thousand words, I think), and I listened to the whole thing one evening while I cleaned the kitchen and so on. I found it very satisfying.

So I want more novellas

I want a fantasy novella that lets me learn enough about a world to decide whether I want to immerse myself in it for 30-100 hours. Long enough to figure out whether I like the author’s style, short enough that I can read it over a cup of coffee (or two).

Message to fantasy and science fiction authors

Please write some novellas in your world. If I like them, I’ll buy the books in your series. You can publish them exclusively online if you like; that works for me. Also, please don’t charge $12.99 for 60 pages.

I’ll take recommendations

Srsly, let me know what you’ve enjoyed. Just keep it under forty thousand words.


One thought on “I think I want to read novellas

  1. I also find myself more and more liking the idea of novellas (I just wrote a 100-odd page one myself, even). They’re a nice compromise between the exploratory nature of a short story and the added depth of a longer novel. I’m hoping that they’re making a resurgence in popularity with the newer methods of distribution that make the production cost not so much of a factor.

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