10 Classic Audiobooks You Can Finish in a Day

David Kelly, Senior Librarian, Literature & Fiction Department,
Selected classic audiobooks you can finish in a day
A selection of quick e-audiobook reads

With virtually everyone’s lives disrupted at the moment, many fans of e-audiobooks might be finding it hard to devote the many hours it takes to finish a book, especially a classic. Also, without our daily commutes and with plans changing seemingly by the hour it is difficult to commit to the 25 hours it takes to listen to Moby Dick, and trying to keep up with Natasha and Pierre and the rest of the gang in War and Peace during your infrequent drives to the grocery store is not ideal.

So with that in mind, here are 10 e-audiobook editions of classic novels that can be listened to in one day. The books are listed in order of their length.

10 Classic Audiobooks You Can Finish in a Day

Book cover for The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Stevenson, Robert Louis

While attempting to isolate and eliminate the evil that he believes lurks within him and all men, Dr. Henry Jekyll creates a potion that instead unleashes that evil upon both himself and Victorian London in the murderous personage of Mr. Hyde.  This e-audiobook is a perfect companion for a late-night stroll through the neighborhood as long as you aren’t worried about that guy in the mask coming up behind you. 2h 56m.

Book cover for The Bridge of San Luis Rey
The Bridge of San Luis Rey
Wilder, Thornton

A small footbridge in Peru collapses, and five people fall to their deaths. After witnessing the event, Brother Juniper, a Franciscan missionary, spends six years compiling the stories of the five who died in order to try and prove that their deaths were part of God’s divine intervention rather than mere chance. 3h 33m.

Book cover for Candide

Written by Voltaire in the course of three days, this satirical classic can be listened to in about three and a half hours. Candide struggles to maintain the optimistic philosophy that “all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds” while facing all the horrors the world has to offer before deciding that “we must all cultivate our own garden”. Amazingly relevant today, 261 years after having been published. 3h 40m.

Book cover for Seize the Day
Seize the Day
Bellow, Saul

Nobel Prize winner Saul Bellow typically wrote long, dense, philosophical novels, which may not lend themselves to being listened to while working out on the elliptical or doing laundry. However, Bellow’s writing style is perfectly distilled in this tight story of fortysomething Tommy Wilhelm, a failed actor, failed husband and failed son who experiences a “day of reckoning.” 3h 47m.

Book cover for The Bookshop
The Bookshop
Fitzgerald, Penelope

A small gem of a novel about a woman who opens up a bookshop in a small English seaside town that probably doesn’t want one. Midway through her career Fitzgerald turned to historical fiction and produced two short masterpieces, The Gate of Angels and The Blue Flower. 3h 53m.

Book cover for The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby
Fitzgerald, F. Scott

You may have already read it...so why not listen to it? Fitzgerald’s beautiful prose provides a perfect listening experience, and we currently offers five different readers to choose from. Listen to a sample of each and then choose the narrator you enjoy the most. 4h 44m.

Book cover for O, Pioneers!
O, Pioneers!
Cather, Willa

Taking her title from a poem by Walt Whitman, “Pioneers! O, Pioneers!” Willa Cather drew on her memory of growing up on the plains of Nebraska to write this story of Alexandra Bergstrom, who inherits her family farm and struggles to make it successful, with little help from her brothers. 5h 23m.

Book cover for We Have Always Lived in the Castle
We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Jackson, Shirley

An unreliable narrator, neo-gothic setting and tense atmosphere combine to provide a twisted modern fairy tale about an 18-year old girl and her beloved older sister living in the cloistered aftermath of an unspeakable event. If your tastes run more to straight-up horror, try Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. 5h 32m.

Book cover for Sula
Morrison, Toni

Spanning the years 1919 to 1965, this is the story of the African-American community of Bottom and the long relationship between Nel and Sula, whose friendship is altered first by tragedy and then by betrayal. A lot is packed into this short novel, which can almost be described as a mini-epic. 5h 46m.

Book cover for A High Wind in Jamaica
A High Wind in Jamaica
Hughes, Richard

The Lord of the Flies posited that without the rule of law imposed upon them, children would revert to a savage state. Hughes saw children as much more unknowable—interested in order while at the same time adaptable to any situation, utterly amoral and most decidedly NOT simply little adults. 6h 13m.