Novellas in November 2019: a novella for every occasion

With Novellas in November mere days away, it’s been brought to my attention that there are people who intend to read things other than novellas next month. And other people might get distracted by book prizes. The good news is that there’s a novella for just about every occasion. Here are some suggestions if you insist on participating in other types of reading in November.

Nonfiction November

Ebola: The Natural and Human History of a Deadly Virus by David Quammen

Whether you’re participating on Booktube or blogland, or just doin’ your own thing, nonfictions novellas are for you. I’ve suggested a few before, but can also recommend a book I’m reading with my nine year old. This is not a book for kids, but his favourite virus is ebola, so when I read about it in Bookforum, I knew we had to check it out. And the fact that he has a favourite virus tells you just about everything you need to know about my eldest child.

German Literature Month

The Mussel Feast by Birgit Vanderbeke

For German Literature Month, you could go classic, with Death in Venice by Thomas Mann, but if you’re not in the mood for lecherous old men lusting after young boys (and definitely don’t look into how autobiographical this book is) I can recommend this modern German classic. Said to be about “the German psyche,” it’s the most compelling story about waiting for a phone to ring you’ll ever read.


The Children’s Bach by Helen Garner

#AusReadingMonth is hosted by OG book blogger Brona. I have a huge, Australia-shaped gap in my reading (I’m working on it, with help from Six Minutes For Me), so this recommendation is cover-based. I do love those Penguin Modern Classic covers. But you shouldn’t overlook Australia when it comes to novellas – they have their own Viva La Novella prize, which awards unpublished novellas with everything they need to get their book to market, from a contract to cover design.

The Giller Prize

Dream Sequence by Adam Foulds

I find the fact that this didn’t make the Giller Prize shortlist rather shocking. Dream Sequence is sublime, and a bit slimy. Beware if you don’t like an unlikable character. Pushing the limits at 184 pages, I read it over the course of a couple of days, but you could definitely do it in a sitting.

The Goldsmiths Prize

We Are Made of Diamond Stuff by Isabel Waidner

Experimental fiction and novellas go hand in hand, but there are only two novellas on this year’s Goldsmiths short list, and one is really pushing it at 199 pages (The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy.) I’m more interested in this one, recently reviewed by The Lonesome Reader. He describes it as “‘Stranger Things’ fan fiction while also being an avant-garde form of social commentary” and if that’s not enough, just check out that cover!

Many thanks to Book are my Favourite and Best for her recent post, reminding me of all the stuff going on in November!

All that said, I’m probably not doing any multiple-category novellas this year! I talked about some of my recent novella acquisitions on Booktube, if you’re so inclined, but I’m taking it pretty casually this year. Check out #NovNov and #NovellasinNovember on Twitter and Instagram, and stay tuned for more.

A couple novellas await within


  1. theresakishkan

    Long live the novella! If you are interested in look at what Fish Gotta Swim Editions has to offer, let me know…And I agree with you about the Adam Foulds. A novella in spirit if perhaps a little long to make the case for. But really wonderful.

  2. Laura

    Ebola – the novella, not the condition – sounds great! As someone who also has a bit of an obsession with disease, I love that your nine-year-old has a favourite virus.

  3. whatsnonfiction

    I did have to laugh that he has a favorite virus, but also, that’s impressive and I’m sure he’s going to turn that interest into something amazing one day!

    I’ve been really curious about David Quammen’s book after reading an NPR interview with him a couple years ago. I’ve read Richard Preston’s totally fascinating books on ebola but Quammen disagrees with him on some things so would be interesting to get his perspective. And I didn’t realize it was novella-length. I’m sold. Love the idea of nonfiction novellas, off to check out your other suggestions!

  4. Pingback: A List of Possibilities for German Lit Month this November | Dolce Bellezza
  5. Naomi

    I still love Novellas in November and plan to post something. I’ve read a few novellas the past couple of months that I think I’ll include – no scrambling for me this year! (At least not for #NovNov!)
    I always look forward to hearing about the novellas you read! 🙂

  6. annelogan17

    A favourite virus? My my. Glad to see you made the dive into Ducks, I still haven’t. I suppose I’m a little gun shy? I need to get through the giller season first LOL

  7. Pingback: Novellas in November 2019 TBR | Reading in Bed

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