What are the best short novels available from Project Gutenberg?
February 16, 2010 7:30 PM   Subscribe

What are some great books - especially shorter ones - that are available on Project Gutenberg?

Recently got an iPhone, and quickly discovered the magic that is the Stanza ebook reader app. It's amazing! It's plugged into all of these great ebook sources, some paid, many free. Found some great stuff right away.

Also found that I really like reading shorter-form fiction on the iPhone, something I'm likely to finish in 30-40 minutes. That means, novellas or shorter novels.

So, given that Stanza integrates with Project Gutenberg, what are the best short novels/novellas available on Gutenberg? Any genre is fine - in fact, would like to read as many different genres as possible, but want only the cream of each respective crop. Thanks in advance!
posted by jbickers to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
First two books I read on gutenberg were:

Alice's Adventures In Wonderland


The Yellow Wallpaper

Both very short and both very enjoyable.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:56 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Aesop's Fables - each takes maybe a few minutes
Bartleby, the Scrivener
posted by bottlebrushtree at 8:02 PM on February 16, 2010

I read Peter Pan for the first time on Project Gutenberg, it's still a favorite of mine. It's a short novel, although not 40 minutes short.

Mark Twain has some funny essays on there--I remember enjoying Christian Science and James Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses, but there are quite a few good ones.
posted by phoenixy at 8:25 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

I was delighted to find that many of E.E. "Doc" Smith's books have become public domain. So now I have Stanza packed with Triplanetary, The Vortex Blasters, Subspace Survivors, Skylark Three, and The Galaxy Primes. There's also a wealth of Jack London. And Rafael Sabatini's Scaramouche, Captain Blood , and The Sea-Hawk. And of course you'll need Ambrose Bierce's The Devil's Dictionary for reference, and while you're there snag H.L. Mencken's Damn! A Book of Calumny. I so love the iPhone as an e-reader. And Stanza rocks. Enjoy!
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:28 PM on February 16, 2010

Nthing the Yellow Wallpaper, and all of the works of Chesterton , shortest The Man Who Was Thursday It's a thriller and it is so good.
posted by The Whelk at 9:43 PM on February 16, 2010

I've long thought Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness is one of the greatest novellas in the English language.
posted by nanojath at 10:07 PM on February 16, 2010

To cover science fiction, check out Jules Verne, especially From the Earth to the Moon.
posted by tantivy at 10:20 PM on February 16, 2010

The Sherlock Holmes short stories are still fantastically entertaining.
posted by xil at 10:51 PM on February 16, 2010

Seconding Sherlock Holmes, but my favorite by far is Anthony Hope's Prisoner of Zenda. Swashbuckling action adventure stuff, and a very quick read.
posted by Caravantea at 2:43 AM on February 17, 2010

Sailing Alone Around The World, which is the autobiographical chronicle of the first man to ever solo circumnavigate by sail - Joshua Slocum in 1895-1898.
posted by namewithoutwords at 5:06 AM on February 17, 2010

Almost all of H. Beam Piper. Most are shorts, some are very short. There are only three or four novels mixed in, which Wikipedia can sort out (and even the novels are fairly short, but over your 30-40 minute ideal).
posted by anaelith at 7:06 AM on February 17, 2010

Seconding Sailing Alone. Also, The Wind in the Willows is fantastic.
posted by craven_morhead at 7:51 AM on February 17, 2010

For even shorter stuff, few beat out Saki and O. Henry.
posted by Kattullus at 9:15 AM on February 17, 2010

Harold Bloom's high praise for Tolstoy's late novella Hadji Murad seemed to me well justified.

The link is to the Internet Archive - not Project Gutenberg. But since it offers the text in both PDF and ePub formats - both of which are supported by Stanza - I'm proposing it anyway.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:01 PM on February 17, 2010

What about collections of short stories? One of my favorites: The Bee-Man of Orn by Frank Stockton
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 2:20 PM on February 17, 2010

P. G. Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster short stories. There are two collections on Project Gutenberg: My Man Jeeves and Right Ho, Jeeves. There's also one Jeeves & Wooster story in The Man With Two Left Feet And Other Stories

And though it's not short fiction, I highly recommend Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat. I'd say it was the funniest book I read last year, and reads like it was written yesterday, not 120 years ago.
posted by fings at 3:01 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Three Men In A Boat is very good.
posted by The Whelk at 4:23 PM on February 17, 2010

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