Art of the Novella

Many years ago, when I still worked for a bookstore, I came across a slim book in the fiction section while shelving. It was Guy de Maupassant’s The Horla, published by Melville House in Brooklyn, NY. For several years after reading it, I obsessed over how simple and handsome the cover was, and I pined over the entire collection on the publisher’s website. I eventually noticed that they had set up a subscription service for the Art of the Novella series that de Maupassant’s book was part of, and that became the newly pined after obsession. I really wanted to own the entire series. I needed them all in my life, on my bookshelves.

Fast forward to last summer, when I made the decision to cut beauty box subscription services out of my life and devote some of that money to this particular subscription. This is a no-frills subscription service; it’s just books and nothing else. It doesn’t come in a fancy box, they slip the books into a mailer and send it off as inexpensively as possible. It has a definitive stopping point, because there are only so many books in this series, and it definitely cuts down on the cost of buying each book individually. I get two books a month from them for under $20, and even after a year, I still have a few dozen titles to go before I need to ask them to take me off their subscription. I’m also directly supporting an independent publisher, which is pretty cool. I wish they offered this for their other collections, but the Art of the Novella series is by far their most robust at the moment, so any other series would have a very short lifespan.

Aside from just wanting to collect this series for its aesthetics, I have been massively enjoying the stories. Novellas are short novels, or long short stories, so they are usually quicker reads. Of Mice and MenAnimal Farm, and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde are examples of best selling, well-known novellas that are not part of this series, but stories by Robert Louis Stevenson, Edgar Allan Poe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jane Austen, and even Mary Shelley are featured in it. I’ve also been introduced to Nikolai Gogol, Christopher Morley, and Willa Cather thanks to the series. Most of the books on my shelf are still in my “To Be Read” pile, but I’m excited to read them all.