Sometimes you need a book for the afternoon. Something quick and satisfying to make you feel accomplished or to help you get through that book challenge. Here are several recommendations that will do just that. From all sorts of genres, so there should be something here for everyone.
I’ve seen several people do this, but in particular I was inspired by Jean at Bookishthoughts. She limits herself to very, very short books, and I might be a bit more lax on that, but rest assured they will be short. I’ll give page counts of my editions with each one to illustrate how short we’re talking.
Grendel by John Gardner (152 pages) This is a retelling of Beowulf from the perspective of its first monster, Grendel. This was a recent read, and it coupled with the new video Jean made about short books inspired this article. It’s a mix of fantasy with a bit of horror. It has lots of poetic and philosophical bits thrown in to make it a very in-depth read despite its short length. Gardner does a fantastic job of giving Grendel a lot of character and making his point-of-view, even though it’s very bleak, relatable.
A Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut (145 pages) A non-fiction book of essays and artwork from Vonnegut’s later years. It’s a little sad, because he discusses how he has given up on trying to convince humankind to be better than we are, but it also can’t help but be great. Because it’s Vonnegut. So it can be sad, yes. And amusing. And illuminating. And all the things Vonnegut is but in a smaller space.
The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter (162 pages) This is a short story collection comprised of fairy tale retellings, but don’t look for them to be Disney-fied. Like their dark origins, these are bloody and strange. They also take on a decidedly feminist slant if that is something you look for in your literature. It’s fantastical and darkly entertaining. I especially recommend the title story and “The Company of Wolves”.
Revenge by Yoko Ogawa (162 pages) Another short story collection. This one a translated work from Japan. Like The Bloody Chamber, this is dark and bizarre. All the stories are linked to one another, and that becomes kind of a treasure hunt as you read. The whole collection, for me, ended up feeling very dreamlike. Unlike anything I’d read before. If you want a different experience with a set of short stories, try this out.
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller (113 pages) Everyone ought to try this one, simply because it’s a classic. Also, it’s a play, so it reads even faster than a book might. We follow Willy Loman as the American dream crumbles all around him. It’s tragic, real, and a pretty important read. I was shocked by how much the story and its characters moved me. It will catch you off guard.
Expect I will do one of these again, since there are no end to the shorter books, the sort you can read in a day, that are worth your time. If you want to support this blog, check out my Redbubble Shop. And as always, happy geeking!