Back to School – Fast Classics

School starts for much of the Magic Valley next week, which means that the kids are probably going to squeeze every bit of summer vacation out of the next few days. And while most of those activities might be fun, I’m sure there’s a handful of kids that didn’t quite finish their reading list for the new school year.

In honor of back to school – and possibly in service to those students who need to get a book finished before Monday – here’s a short list of short classics. Each is less than 250 pages, so you could probably finish them in one or two sittings, and all would please even the fussiest English teacher. Plus, most are just darn good stories. Enjoy!



The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

  • An 80-year-old mansion harboring dark secrets comes to menacing life in this classic spine-tingling tale from Shirley Jackson. Anthropologist and ghost hunter Dr. John Montague invites four strangers to stay in haunted Hill House for the summer. One of the guests is 32-year-old Eleanor, for whom three months in a haunted house is preferable to caring for her invalid mother. Soon, Eleanor begins to see and hear things that the other guests cannot. Is it all in her imagination, or is she the only one who can perceive the evil that lurks in Hill House? (246 pages)

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

  • The classic study of human nature which depicts the degeneration of a group of schoolboys marooned on a desert island. (208 pages)

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

  • Marlowe sails down the Congo in search of Kurtz, a company agent who has, according to rumors, become insane in the jungle isolation. (146 pages)



Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

  • The tragic story of two itinerant ranch hands on the run–one is the lifelong companion to the other, a developmentally disabled man. (109 pages)

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

  • Santiago is a Cuban fisherman who encounters a giant marlin in the Gulf Stream and the battle for his catch becomes one of survival against a band of marauding sharks. (127 pages)

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

  • The adventures of an unusual dog, part St. Bernard, part Scotch Shepherd, that was kidnapped and shipped off to Alaska to work on the Klondike Gold Rush. Buck the dog quickly learns how to survive in the wild and also learns the call of the wolf. (126 pages)



True Grit by Charles Portis

  • With her papa’s pistol tied to her saddlehorn and a supersized ration of audacity, fourteen-year-old Mattie Ross sets out to avenge her father’s murder. (235 pages)

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

  • Meet the unforgettable Janie Crawford, an articulate African-American woman in the 1930s. Traces Janie’s quest for identity, through three marriages, on a journey to her roots. (231 pages)

A Lost Lady by Willa Cather

  • Mrs. Forrester, the resident aristocrat of Sweet Water, a remote railroad town on the Western frontier, is the lone representative of culture and refinement. (150 pages)



The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

  • A classic novel of the future follows the Time Traveller as he hurtles one million years into the future and encounters a world populated by two distinct races, the childlike Eloi and the disgusting Morlocks who prey on the Eloi. (125 pages)

Animal Farm by George Orwell

  • A satire on totalitarianism in which farm animals overthrow their human owner and set up their own government. (140 pages)

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

  • When a young girl falls down a rabbit hole, she discovers a strange and interesting world with fantastical, mad characters as she tries to find her way back home. (129 pages)


Gatsby_ Falcon_Hiroshima

The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald

  • Jay Gatsby had once loved beautiful, spoiled Daisy Buchanan, then lost her to a rich boy. Now, mysteriously wealthy, he is ready to risk everything to woo her back. (180 pages)

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

  • Sam Spade’s partner is murdered while working on a case, and it is Spade’s responsibility to find the killer. In his search, Spade runs mortal risks as he comes closer to the answer. (217 pages)

Hiroshima by John Hersey

  • The classic tale of the day the first atom bomb was dropped offers a haunting evocation of the memories of survivors and an appeal to the conscience of humanity. (196 pages)


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