Books have been proven to make us more empathetic, equip us to deal with uncertainty and anxiety, and help to prevent cognitive decline through middle age into our advanced years.
With so many advantages — not to mention the fact that they give our eyes a much-needed rest from back-lit, digital screens — picking up a book is something we should all incorporate into our daily routines.
However, making it through a hefty novel can seem like a daunting task.
Business Insider teamed up with book review website and recommendation platform Goodreads to create a list of the highest-rated, most popular, and most culturally relevant fiction books which consist of 250 pages or less.
The books were selected by Goodreads staff based on their high ratings and positive reviews from Goodreads users. Each entry on the list contains the book’s page count, its average rating from Goodreads users, and a synopsis from the publisher.
Scroll down to discover the 25 best books on Goodreads under 250 pages, ranked by user rating in ascending order.
'In the midst of a mysterious environmental crisis, as London is submerged below flood waters, a woman gives birth to her first child, Z. Days later, the family are forced to leave their home in search of safety.
'As they move from place to place, shelter to shelter, their journey traces both fear and wonder as Z's small fists grasp at the things he sees, as he grows and stretches, thriving and content against all the odds.'
Julie Otsuka's follow-up to 'When the Emperor Was Divine' tells the story of a group of young women brought from Japan to San Francisco as 'picture brides' nearly a century ago.
'The Buddha in the Attic traces the picture brides' extraordinary lives, from their arduous journey by boat, where they exchange photographs of their husbands, imagining uncertain futures in an unknown land; to their arrival in San Francisco and their tremulous first nights as new wives; to their backbreaking work picking fruit in the fields and scrubbing the floors of white women; to their struggles to master a new language and a new culture; to their experiences in childbirth, and then as mothers, raising children who will ultimately reject their heritage and their history; to the deracinating arrival of war.'
'Jake Whyte is living on her own in an old farmhouse on a craggy British island, a place of ceaseless rains and battering winds. Her disobedient collie, Dog, and a flock of sheep are her sole companions, which is how she wanted it to be. But every few nights something -- or someone -- picks off one of the sheep and sets off a new deep pulse of terror.
'With exceptional artistry and empathy, 'All the Birds, Singing' reveals an isolated life in all its struggles and stubborn hopes, unexpected beauty, and hard-won redemption.'
'Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilisation.
'The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.
'This is the twelfth expedition.'
195 pages. Check out 'Annihilation' on Goodreads here.
'Erin and Roisin were once friends until a fatal accident ruined both their lives.
'Now, Roisin has discovered a secret -- one Erin has kept for over a decade -- and she's determined to make Erin pay for her lies.'
'Raised in Pennsylvania, Thandi views the world of her mother's childhood in Johannesburg as both impossibly distant and ever present. She is an outsider wherever she goes, caught between being black and white, American and not.
'In arresting and unsettling prose, we watch Thandi's life unfold, from losing her mother and learning to live without the person who has most profoundly shaped her existence, to her own encounters with romance and unexpected motherhood.'
213 pages. Check out 'What We Lose' on Goodreads here.
'A novel so compelling that it begs to be read in a single sitting, with stunning psychological and emotional depth and sophistication, 'The Sense of an Ending' is a brilliant new chapter in Julian Barnes's oeuvre.
'This intense new novel follows a middle-aged man as he contends with a past he has never much thought about -- until his closest childhood friends return with a vengeance, one of them from the grave, another maddeningly present.'
'Máni Steinn is queer in a society in which the idea of homosexuality is beyond the furthest extreme. His city, Reykjavik in 1918, is homogeneous and isolated and seems entirely defenceless against the Spanish flu, which has already torn through Europe, Asia, and North America and is now lapping up on Iceland's shores.
'The story of a young man on the fringes of a society that is itself at the fringes of the world -- at what seems like history's most tumultuous, perhaps ultimate moment.'
'This is the story of a hen named Sprout. No longer content to lay eggs on command, only to have them carted off to the market, she glimpses her future every morning through the barn doors, where the other animals roam free, and comes up with a plan to escape into the wild -- and to hatch an egg of her own.
'An anthem for freedom, individuality, and motherhood featuring a plucky, spirited heroine who rebels against the tradition-bound world of the barnyard, 'The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly' is a novel of universal resonance that also opens a window on Korea, where it has captivated millions of readers.'
''Goodbye, Vitamin' is the wry, beautifully observed story of a woman at a crossroads, as Ruth and her friends attempt to shore up her father's career.
'She and her mother obsess over the ambiguous health benefits -- in the absence of a cure -- of dried jellyfish supplements and vitamin pills; and they all try to forge a new relationship with the brilliant, childlike, irascible man her father has become.'
'Jenny Offill's heroine, referred to in these pages as simply 'the wife,' once exchanged love letters with her husband postmarked Dept. of Speculation, their code name for all the uncertainty that inheres in life and in the strangely fluid confines of a long relationship.
'As they confront an array of common catastrophes -- a colicky baby, a faltering marriage, stalled ambitions -- the wife analyses her predicament.
'She muses on the consuming, capacious experience of maternal love, and the near total destruction of the self that ensues from it as she confronts the friction between domestic life and the seductions and demands of art.'
'On a beach in the Dominican Republic, a doomed relationship flounders. In the heat of a hospital laundry room in New Jersey, a woman does her lover's washing and thinks about his wife. In Boston, a man buys his love child, his only son, a first baseball bat and glove.
'At the heart of these stories is the irrepressible, irresistible Yunior, a young hardhead whose longing for love is equaled only by his recklessness -- and by the extraordinary women he loves and loses: artistic Alma; the ageing Miss Lora; Magdalena, who thinks all Dominican men are cheaters; and the love of his life, whose heartbreak ultimately becomes his own.'
'Inspired as a boy by the multiple meanings to be found for a single word in the dictionary, Kohei Araki is devoted to the notion that a dictionary is a boat to carry us across the sea of words. But after thirty-seven years creating them at Gembu Books, it's time for him to retire and find his replacement.
'Award-winning Japanese author Shion Miura's novel is a reminder that a life dedicated to passion is a life well lived.'
'When the Queen in pursuit of her wandering corgis stumbles upon a mobile library, she feels duty bound to borrow a book. Aided by Norman, a young man from the palace kitchen who frequents the library, the Queen is transformed as she discovers the liberating pleasures of the written word.
'A deliciously funny novella that celebrates the pleasure of reading.'
'Down the road from a working-class British pub, along the brick wall of a narrow alley, if the conditions are exactly right, you'll find the entrance to Slade House. A stranger will greet you by name and invite you inside. At first, you won't want to leave.
'Later, you'll find that you can't.'
238 pages. Check out 'Slade House' on Goodreads here.
'In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet -- sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city.
'When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors -- doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price.'
231 pages. Check out 'Exit West' on Goodreads here.
'Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched.
'Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, Christopher is autistic. Everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning for him. Routine, order and predictability shelter him from the messy, wider world.'
'For August and her girls, sharing confidences as they ambled through neighbourhood streets, Brooklyn was a place where they believed that they were beautiful, talented, brilliant -- a part of a future that belonged to them.
But beneath the hopeful veneer, there was another Brooklyn, a dangerous place where grown men reached for innocent girls in dark hallways, where ghosts haunted the night, where mothers disappeared.'
'There are three ways up to Castle View from the town of Castle Rock: Route 117, Pleasant Road, and the Suicide Stairs. Every day in the summer of 1974 twelve-year-old Gwendy Peterson has taken the stairs, which are held by strong (if time-rusted) iron bolts and zig-zag up the cliffside.
'At the top of the stairs, Gwendy catches her breath and listens to the shouts of the kids on the playground.
'On a bench in the shade sits a man in black jeans, a black coat like for a suit, and a white shirt unbuttoned at the top. On his head is a small neat black hat. The time will come when Gwendy has nightmares about that hat.'
'In the familiar setting of Holt, Colorado, home to all of Kent Haruf's inimitable fiction, Addie Moore pays an unexpected visit to a neighbour, Louis Waters. Her husband died years ago, as did his wife, and in such a small town they naturally have known of each other for decades; in fact, Addie was quite fond of Louis's wife.
'His daughter lives hours away in Colorado Springs, her son even farther away in Grand Junction, and Addie and Louis have long been living alone in houses now empty of family, the nights so terribly lonely, especially with no one to talk with.'
'Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother.
'He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.'
'In Edinburgh, a couple, Rabih and Kirsten, fall in love. They get married, they have children -- but no long-term relationship is as simple as 'happily ever after.'
''The Course of Love' is a novel that explores what happens after the birth of love, what it takes to maintain love, and what happens to our original ideals under the pressures of an average existence'
'In the summer of 1956, Stevens, a long-serving butler at Darlington Hall, decides to take a motoring trip through the West Country.
'The six-day excursion becomes a journey into the past of Stevens and England, a past that takes in fascism, two world wars, and an unrealised love between the butler and his housekeeper.'
'In the aftermath of the American Civil War, an ageing itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this morally complex, multi-layered novel of historical fiction that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honour, and trust.'
'At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting -- he's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments.
'The monster in his backyard is different. It's ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth.'
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