A Book Under 200 Pages or an Audiobook Under 5 Hours: Staff Picks for the TPL Reading Challenge 2020

May 7, 2020 | Christie

Comments (2)

Reading Challenge 2020

Have you ever wanted to dive into a book, but found yourself overwhelmed by length of it? Or perhaps you just prefer short stories or novellas? If so, this category is right up your alley: "a book under 200 pages long/ an audiobook under 5 hours long"!

We'll be hosting our second Facebook Live TPL Reading Challenge event on Tuesday, May 12 at 2 pm to discuss this challenge category. There will be more online Reading Challenge events to come. Everyone is welcome to join in! 

Here are the books library staff and our Challenge participants recommend.

Staff Recommendations

Klee Wyck

Klee Wyck by Emily Carr

The title of this autobiographical account refers to the nickname bestowed upon Canadian artist Emily Carr from one of the Native communities she befriended in Ucluelet, meaning, "The Laughing One".  In the amazing enhanced ebook format, readers can click on select words and phrases throughout the book that will take them to websites that will provide further context and/or visuals, as Emily Carr documents her travels and experiences with British Columbia's indigenous people.

Heart of darkness

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

This novella stands as the perfect reminder that a book that is short in length does not equate to an easy read. One of the most challenging reads, Heart of Darkness is Conrad's disturbing psychological thriller novella, depicting Captain Marlow's search for Captain Kurtz through the  jungle in the Congo. The film Apocalypse Now, was loosely based on this novella. 

– Christie, Branch Head


You are here
I can’t think of a better time to suggest books by Thich Nhat Hanh. His writing is beautifully spare and lucid. At a time when we have the chance to think about establishing a more mindful way of living and working, any of his books are helpful. Here are three that I have found especially powerful:

– Fran, Public Service Assistant


Black god's drums

The Black God's Drums by P. Djèlí Clark.

The book was so tiny I could fit it into the pocket of my dress (disclaimer: I own multiple dresses with huge pockets. Yes, I do love them). It's an alternate history set in New Orleans during the Civil War, so it's also "a book about history" and "a book based on a fairy tale, myth or legend" (you'll see). The main character finds out about a dreadful weapon that will end the war... and wipe out her entire city. She's determined to stop it, or die trying. This feels like an action-filled heist novel, and I read it so fast that I wanted more! I'm on the waiting list for Clark's next book.

– Amy, Communications Officer


Four futures

Four Futures: Visions of the World After Capitalism by Peter Frase

It's a thought experiment for what our world could be like, given increasing automation of work, combined with climate change, and a host of other 21st century "adaptations" to capitalism. Part future forecasting, part political treatise, part scary (the despotic futures), and part hopeful (the democratic ones), it's all engrossing.

– Jonathon, Senior Services Specialist


The old man and the sea

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

It was Hemingway’s last major work of fiction, which also garnered him the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. This 127 page book is the story of an old indefatigable fisherman, who keeps hoping that the next day would be the end of his unlucky streak of not catching any fish.

– Radha, Assistant Branch Head



Moonstruck Vol 1: Magic to Brew by Grace Ellis with art by Shae Beagle and Kate Leth

This all ages, pastel fantasy comic features a totally endearing cast of mythical friends and lovers. A definite mood booster!

 – Jennifer, Librarian


This is how we

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar 

Classified as science fiction but reads more like literary fiction. Two agents from opposing sides of a war exchange a series of letters – beautifully written.

– Catherine, Services Specialist


Boy tales of

Boy: Tales of Childhood by Roald Dahl

I loved this book! I’ve read it twice, and will probably read it again. The creator of many classic children’s books tells stories about his life growing up in England from early childhood until the moment when he leaves school to take his first job with an oil company.

It’s filled with entertaining anecdotes about summers with his extended family in Norway, the brutality of the English boarding school system, his revenge on the terrifying proprietress of the local candy shop (the Mouse Plot!) , chocolate testing for Cadbury’s (inspiration for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?) and more.

Classified as juvenile literature, but adults will love it too.

– Maureen, Librarian


Daughter of time

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

Introduced me to a new (old) mystery writer, and to the idea that maybe Richard III didn't kill the Two Princes.

Wizard of oz

The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

It's fun to see how it's different from the movie.

The Chrysalids

The Chrysalids by John Wyndham

 His books are classic science fiction.

– Linda, IT Lead


No one is too small

No One is too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thurnberg

This is a collection of of speeches by Greta Thurnberg, the young Swedish activist. Her activism, including speeches to the UN, government, and at mass protests resulted in a Nobel Peace Prize nomination in 2019.

We should all be

We Should All be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This very short book is an essay, adapted from the author's TEDx talk, and speaks about feminism in the 21st century.

– Nalini, Branch Head


Dear Ijeaweale

Dear Ijeawele, or, A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Expounding the ideas she began to explore in her bestselling book, We Should All Be Feminists, Adichie outlines, in clear and beautiful language, fifteen suggestions for how to raise a child in today's world to a friend who has just become the mother of a baby girl. I think this book is a gift to society that every human should read.

I'm afraid of men

I'm Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya

A rousing and timely meditation on toxic masculinity from the unique perspective of a trans woman – someone who had to learn to convincingly perform masculinity to survive childhood. Vivek Shraya – celebrated artist, musician, and writer – illuminates issues of gender and misogyny through her own personal experience in a way that is accessible, nuanced and necessary.

– Andrea, Librarian


How to be a good creature

How to be a Good Creature by Sy Montgomery

It's a beautiful little memoir written by the author, who regularly works with and writes about animals. The books is divided into parts based on animals that have changed the author's life. It left me feeling positive and peaceful for weeks.

Every heart a door

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

First book in a series about what happens to the children who disappeared into fantasy worlds when they come back home to the "real world". Also features diverse characters! Definitely recommend to any fantasy lover.

– Brandy, Librarian


Tell them battles

Tell Them of Battles, Kings, and Elephant by Mathias Énard

The "what if" premise imagines how things may have played out if Michelangelo had accepted a commission from the Ottoman Empire to design and build a bridge across the Golden Horn. Told through spare, carefully crafted, yet dreamy prose, and rich in historical detail, this novella is emotionally charged and stayed with me long after I finished reading it.

Murderbot 1

The Murderbot Diaries series by Martha Wells

Gloriously snarky, intelligently plotted, and well-paced, I recommend these novellas even to those who don’t normally enjoy science-fiction. Murderbot, a self-deprecating, agender security unit, is one of the most relatable protagonists I've encountered in a long time (it just wants to be left alone to binge watch its shows!) and I loved following its journey. Like many of the best stories about non-human characters, the Murderbot Diaries are, at their heart, about what it means to be human, particularly in a world where you’re seen as something less than.

–  Chelsea, Librarian


Lathe of heaven

Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin

It's about a person whose dreams change the world, literally. Like all her writing, it's insightful and thought-provoking.

– Donna, Senior Department Head


Life on the refrigerator

Life on the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers

 I read this book as a hardcover copy. It's a series of notes between a mother and daughter, but goes from being mundane to poignant during a family crisis. A good reminder  of the need for us not to take the ones we love for granted.

– Susan, Public Service Assistant


Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

This has been on my to-read list for years and when I started reading it, the first page totally sucked me in. And the eaudiobook version we offer is read by Tim Robbins!

–Elsa, Senior Services Specialist


Recommendations from the Facebook Group

These are just some of the recommendations from our Facebook TPL Reading Challenge 2020 discussion group.


Honourable mentions

One of our Facebook group members mentioned that there are a number of plays that fall under 200 pages in length. For suggestions, check out the topic thread!


Available in Print and/or Audiobook Format Only


Join the Discussion

What did you read for this category? Let us know in the comments below. Or join us for our second Facebook Live TPL Reading Challenge event on Tuesday, May 12 at 2 pm to discuss this challenge category. Everyone is welcome to join in!



Edited on May 7: The Reason I Jump and Memorial were incorrectly listed as plays.