I love reading excellent short books. I love reading big books too. But when it comes to Readathons, excellent short books take the win. As a slow reader, I can read them straight through and still read them well. Plus, I love that feeling of reading a whole book in a single day. Putting it down and getting off the sofa feels like getting off a long plane journey. I’m blinking and disoriented, and the world looks different, new.
This weekend (May 28 – 30) I’m participating in the Take Back Your Shelves Readathon, hosted by Jenna from JMill Wanders. It’s a reader’s choice affair, so I’m taking the opportunity to finish May’s “Smash Your Stack” challenge strong. At the head of my list this weekend is a fun short book, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (the second in Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series). I began it last night and am keeping my options open for what I’ll read next. My one caveat is that it’ll be a book I already own (because #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks).
For other readers who enjoy short books, whatever the reason(s), here is a (second) list of 15 short books I’ve enjoyed or am looking forward to reading (maybe even this weekend!).
Hamish Macbeth Mysteries by M. C. Beaton
How I love these elegantly crafted murder mysteries! They have a wonderful sense of place, a charming protagonist readers root for, and tightly constructed plots.
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
Or any of DiCamillo’s novels, really. She’s brilliant at distilling complicated, difficult emotions into lean, raw, powerful stories – for children and adults.
84, Charing Cross Road by Helen Hanff
A lovely, heartening read for book lovers, it’s comprised of letters sent between Hanff and an antiquarian London bookshop beginning in 1949 and continuing for more than 20 years.
Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou
Angelou’s moving memoir of her relationship with her mother reads like prose poetry. It’s impossible to put down.
The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
For more prose that reads like poetry, this gorgeously written, first-person plural narrative about Japanese picture brides, who were sent to the US to marry men they knew only from photos.
The Sound of Waves by Yukio Mishima
Continuing the theme of prose that reads like poetry, this story of first love set in Japanese fishing village.
Blue Nights by Joan Didion
Didion’s memoir of losing her daughter – I haven’t read it, but Didion’s intensely brilliant and beautiful Slouching Toward Bethlehem is one of my favorite essay collections of all time. Come to think of it, why haven’t I read Blue Nights?
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
This memoir of a neurosurgeon’s cancer battle, published posthumously, has been roundly praised. It’s on my bookshelf, so I’ll have my own take on it before long.
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Stevenson’s novella builds to a chilling climax and explores the fraught relationship between humans and technology.
The Time Machine by H. G. Wells
For another classic that meditates on the above, Well’s early sci-fi novel features a time traveler to the future.
Saving Lucas Biggs by Marisa de los Santos
And if you like your time travel literature a bit more recent, this novel tells the story of 13-year old Margaret, who travels back in time to change the course of a corrupt judge’s life, a judge whose decisions will affect Margaret’s father’s life in the present.
Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley
The first in a trilogy (including The Haunted Bookshop and Where the Blue Begins) about a traveling bookshop – I haven’t read it personally … yet; however, it is on my bookshelf (what isn’t?).
On Cats by Charles Bukowski
With its trademark interplay of vulgarity and beauty, Bukowski’s poetry and prose about cats, including previously unpublished works, is rather touching. You maybe need to like cats at least a little to appreciate it?
El Deafo by CeCe Bell
Witty and moving, Bell’s graphic memoir, named for the superhero persona she crafted for herself in childhood, recounts her early hearing loss, growing up with a Phonic Ear and hearing aid, and the challenges of young friendships and first crushes.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
A hilarious romp through the universe with the last two humans left in the galaxy (after Earth is scheduled for demolition) and a few aliens. I’m currently reading book two in the series.
What excellent short books do you recommend? If you’re participating in #TBYSReadathon, what books are on your reading list this weekend?