Novellas in November 2021 TBR & Research Round Up

The best part of Novellas in November is the research. Once you start looking, there are <200 page books all over the place, just waiting for the appropriate alliterative month to begin! Here’s a round up of my 2021 discoveries and ambitious TBR.

The official buddy reads

Cathy and Rebecca have included weekly buddy reads in this year’s event, and since all four books were easily procured for no cost (library and Project Gutenberg), I’m going to try and keep up.

  • Week one is a contemporary novella, Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson. I’ve seen this book everywhere, and it got a glowing review from Rachel, so I’m in.
  • Week two is a work of short nonfiction, The Story of My Life by Helen Keller. I was obsessed with Helen Keller for a while in elementary school and look forward to revisiting.
  • Week three is a novella in translation, Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima, translated by Geraldine Harcourt. I’ve had good luck with Japanese novellas in the past.
  • Week four is a classic novella, Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton. I *think* I’ve read it (it’s crossed off in my 1,001 Books page, anyway) but I can’t remember much and seems due for a reread.

The books in my library

Unread novellas from #NovNovs past and recent additions.

  • My Phantoms by Gwendoline Riley is 199 pages exactly and arrived last week. It’s a sign.
  • The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon, a leftover from this year’s 20 Books of Summer
  • Quartet by Jean Rhys, ditto.
  • And on loan from the library, Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun by Sarah Ladipo Manyika, recommended by Caribbean Girl Reading the World.

The discoveries

The novellas that have crossed my path leading up to #NovNov. Will I get to any of these? Almost certainly not. But maybe… in time…

  • Committed Writings by Albert Camus is a perfect nonfiction novella combo, a collection of speeches and letters, and sounds fascinating. Reviewed by Brona.
  • The Fish Girl by Mirandi Riwoe won a novella prize, and is in the tradition of Wide Sargasso Sea (another solid #NovNov pick), in that it takes a side character from a classic novel and gives her new life. Reviewed by ANZ Litlovers.
  • Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan, profiled in The Guardian.
  • A wide selection of novellas by women in translation, selected by Naty.



  1. Cathy746books

    Thanks so much for joining in Laura, it wouldn’t be the same without you! I LOVED My Phantoms when I read it towards the end of last year. I’ll be reviewing Small Things Like These towards the end of the week – it’s gorgeous. Enjoy!

    • lauratfrey

      I will check out those reviews! The only downside to the buddy reads is, I don’t know if I’ll squeeze My Phantoms in! I’m absorbed in the Helen Keller now, maybe it’ll be quick (hard to tell as I’m reading the html file on my phone) and I can get in another.

  2. Pingback: It’s Novellas in November time – Post Your Links Here! #NovNov
  3. Brona's Books

    Ahhh I hadn’t thought to include My Phantoms as a novella – thanks for the nudge. Now I will have to double check my year to see if I missed any more!

    Thank you for the Camus shout out.

  4. Jane

    A great combination of books, I haven’t read any of them but am really looking forward to Ethan Frome and the Camus sounds very interesting. Hope there’s lots to enjoy!

  5. Chelsea @ Spotlight on Stories

    I’m planning to participate for the first time this year, so I love seeing what everyone else is reading! My library copy of Open Water is in transit and Rachel’s review has me very excited. I hope you have a great month of novellas ahead!

    • lauratfrey

      Yeah, I did not like it *quite as much* as Rachel but I’m still glad I read it. Feel like I’m getting in on the ground floor of an author who’s going to do great things.

  6. annelogan17

    These all sound like great selections! I love how varied your reading is, I can’t wait to see reviews 😉

    I’m actually reading a novella right now too – and it’s set in Edmonton! The Annual Migrations of Clouds by Edmonton author Premee Mohamed, review will be coming soon on my blog.

    • lauratfrey

      Yes, I saw Naomi review that, and so thought it must be a maritime author! It’s got a ton of holds at the library, but that’s a good thing. So it’ll be after November for me.

  7. Karen

    Thanks for sharing all these different novellas! I’m joining in for Ethan Frome. Unfortunately, my library doesn’t have Territory of Light. 😦 I am probably going to read A Dog’s Heart by Bulgakov for the novella in translation.

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