Reading ‘proper’ fiction is like exercise – you always feel like you should be doing it more often, and when you eventually do you're always surprised by how good it feels.

The problem, of course, is time. Everyone wants to be well read as much as they want a six-pack, but between work, going to the pub and finishing off the latest Game Of Thrones box set, well – what is well-intentioned but busy man to do?

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Thankfully, not every book in the canon is as big as a coffin and about as appealing to prise open. On occasion, the great writers were mercifully brief.

These are the short novels – or novellas – you can polish off in a weekend or over a long journey. They’ll entertain you, they'll make you think and they'll turn you into a more interesting dinner party guest in less time it takes to watch The Godfather trilogy.

They are also the great works of literature that, like taking the odd jog, you really have no excuse to keep putting off.

What do you think?

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