February 3, 2023

Save the Net Books

Blogazine on Books, Arts, and Music

15 short graphic novels for when you don’t have time to read

This content contains affiliate links. If you shop through these links, we may receive an affiliate commission.

I try not to be guided by challenges and goals when reading. I read what I can, when I can, and I’m (mostly) happy about it.

But I’d be lying if I said that during certain months I don’t try to find ways to add an extra book or two to my reading time. Especially since I usually manage to read an average of five books a month, I actively look for ways to increase my reading totals for the month as I pick up more challenging books and I know I can finish maybe two that month.

This is usually the case when audiobooks and graphic novels come in handy. Audio books because I can listen to them even if I can’t read a printed book and graphic novels because there are always short and fun books I’m curious about so this is a perfect time to pick them up gain.

Whatever your personal reason for looking for short graphic novels (either for a reading goal or slump, or just because you enjoy them), here’s a list to add to your collection – to save for later or for now devour.

Eric by Shaun Tan

This is a very small green book with a short but emotional story.

Eric is an international student living with an exchange family for a while.

During the time he spends there, he proves to be a very peculiar creature full of wisdom that leaves an unforgettable mark.

The story in this book first appeared in Tan’s Tales From Outer Suburbia.

Another cool short book by Tan with the same style – and scope – is Dog.

The Stack Newsletter

Log in to The Stack to get the best entries from Book Riot Comic handpicked for you.

Thanks for signing up! Keep an eye on your inbox.

By registering, you agree to our terms of use

Cover of the book Amazona by Canizales

Amazon by Canizales

Don’t let the size of this book fool you: it contains a heavy history of Colombia and its people. It’s about a 19-year-old indigenous woman who loses her baby and plans to bury it in her village while grappling with identity and politics.

This book speaks for diverse communities around the world: people who are being dismissed, abused, and sometimes forgotten, especially by those who have promised to have their best interests at heart.

Book cover of Death Wins a Goldfish by Brian Rea

Death Wins a Goldfish by Brian Rea

I love funny graphic novels, especially ones that play with serious things.

In this book, Death receives a letter from Human Resources requesting that he be on vacation.

Death never took a day off, let alone a vacation, so with all their new free time they don’t really know what to do. So they set out on a journey to find out.

It’s a sweet book that will make you reconsider the way we keep busy – and that everyone needs a break, even death.

Heartstopper book cover

Heart Stopper by Alice Oseman

Everyone knows about Heartstopper by now, and if you’ve seen the physical book (and those pretty but thick spines) you might think I’m tricking you, but no!

Despite its appearance, all of Heartstopper’s volumes are actually fairly quick reads, and you’ll finish the entire collection very quickly.

Mostly because the love story between Nick and Charlie – one a gay high schooler dealing with multiple issues, the other trying to figure out his own sexuality – will keep you engaged from start to finish.

Glass Town book cover

Glass City by Isabel Greenberg

This is a graphic novel that’s perfect for multiple people, but especially fans of the Bronte sisters.

The artwork is fascinating and we can see the family and the imaginary world called Glass Town they created, as well as the writing of each of the sisters intertwined in the story.

A perfect balance between real life, art and the webs of fantasy.

Book cover by Kari

Kari from Amruta Patil

Yet another example of a dark, short graphic novel.

There are many metaphors to explore in this book, in a very poetic language that is worth deciphering.

Surrounded by themes of depression, life choices and queerness, it’s a powerful narrative that takes place on the streets of Mumbai and reading it is almost like watching a dream unfold.

Sometimes description can’t do a book justice, but Kari is one of those stories that is better told with emotion than by trying to summarize her story.

Book cover of Fangs

Fangs by Sarah Andersen

You may know Sarah Andersen from her highly relatable comics like Adulthood Is A Myth or her site Sarah’s Scribbles.

Fangs is quite different from these works and is for those who love mythical creatures, especially vampires and werewolves.

Elsie is a vampire who never found love. Jimmy is a werewolf.

They meet at a bar one night and get to know each other (and their special features) through horror books and movies and other spooky activities.

A sweet story about finding love despite (or because of) all the things that make us so different.

Book cover of Night Lights

Night Lights by Lorena Alvarez

This is such a beautiful book!

The story takes place in Bogotá and features Sandy, a young girl who catches stars every night and turns those stars into works of art.

Nobody has seen Sandy’s drawings until one day a new girl named Morfie comes to Sandy’s school and is fascinated by them.

It might be a simple tale of friendship and creativity, but Morfie’s fascination with Sandy’s art runs deeper — and darker — than meets the eye.

This is the first book in the Nightlights series.

Cover of Feelings: A Tale of the Seasons by Manjit Thapp

Emotions by Manjit Thapp

Do seasons have feelings? I believe they do.

In this book, you follow Manjit Thapp’s life, her whims, and the seasons that go with it.

A beautiful metaphor between the changes on Earth we observe and experience each year and the profound personal changes each of us undergoes throughout our lives, Feelings is a journey of discovery, creativity and rebirth.

All feelings – good or not – are valid and validated because they are all very human.

Book cover of Life of Melody

Life of Melody by Mari Costa

This is the perfect short graphic novel for those who can’t get enough of queer romantic love.

In it, a fairy godfather named Razzmatazz decides to take on the task of making humans more vulnerable to fairies, and he believes he can do this through parenting: raising a human child from infancy to adulthood.

In a turn of events, he is forced to raise this chosen child with a beast named Bon.

The result is an absolutely delightful story.

Cover photo for Cheer Up

Cheer Up by Crystal Frasier, illustrated by Val Wise

Another super cute queer romance to add to the list!

Annie and BeeBee have different goals when they both reach senior year. Annie is a lesbian who wants to make friends and realizes that joining the cheerleading team is the way to go. BeeBee wants to keep her grades so her parents will continue to support her transition.

Amid the uncertainties of the future and a previous friendship, they seem to have found each other again, but it could be a little bit more than just a rekindling of their friendship ties.

Cover of Everything is OK by Debbie Tung

Everything is OK by Debbie Tung

This book reflects some of Tung’s own struggles with depression and anxiety.

It speaks of serious matters with a dash of humor and gives the reader a glimpse of how Tung personally dealt with these issues.

It also talks about how she deals with mental health on a day-to-day basis, and it’s also a kind of letter of hope to those who feel lost, trapped, or just alone in their own struggles with mental illness.

An ode to allowing yourself to be vulnerable.

Cover of Galaxy: The Most Beautiful Star

Galaxy: The Fairest Star by Jadzia Axelrod, illustrated by Jess Taylor

An amazing sci-fi novel that is a great metaphor for gender identity.

On the outside, Taylor Barzelay seems to have it all: good looks, good grades, popularity and a stable family. But as day turns to night, her true identity is revealed: you are, in fact, an alien princess from another planet.

Taylor has kept this a secret for six years, but when she meets Kat Silverberg, she feels it’s finally time to open up and confide in someone.

But things aren’t going as smoothly as Taylor had hoped, and there are ramifications to this revelation.

Book cover of bb Free

bb Free by Gabby Rivera, illustrations by Royal Dunlap

For lovers of the chosen one trope, this is the amazing first book in the bb Free series. So if you still want to read more, there is more to discover.

bb Free is our main character. A hundred years after a plague wiped out half of humanity, she runs her own underground radio show and tries to break free from her all-powerful father.

But when she makes the decision to run away, little does she know her destiny is about to unfold – and it holds much in store for her to discover.

a girl named echo book cover

A Girl Called Echo by Katherena Vermette, illustrated by Scott B. Henderson

This is the perfect graphic novel for those who love time-shift stories.

During a history class, Echo is transported between a time in the past and its present.

Strange as this event is, it remains more than a one-time thing: She finds herself immersed in these past and present voyages in the weeks that follow, experiencing bison hunts and trade routes, among other historical events.

For those interested in learning more about the history of Métis through fiction, this is a great place to start.

The best news? This is only the first volume in the amazing Pemmican Wars series.

Looking for more short stories? Here is a list of other short graphic novels and a list of books to read in one go. Enjoy!