15 short books for National Readathon Day

For readers planning to participate in National Readathon Day, here's a starter list of excellent reads suitable for reading in a single day. Saturday, May 21 is the second annual National Readathon Day, a nation-wide marathon reading session to promote and raise funds for literacy initiatives. You can click here find out more about it and how to participate.

In the meantime, for readers planning to participate, I thought I’d start a list of excellent reads suitable for reading in a single day. I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments as well!

Brown Girl Dreaming (Newbery Honor Book) by Jacqueline Woodson. First on my list is one of my favorite reads of 2016 so far. Woodson’s moving and eloquent memoir in verse follows her from Ohio, to the Civil Rights-era South, to Brooklyn in the 1970s.

Charlotte’s Web (Trophy Newbery) by E. B. White. A little piglet called Wilbur is saved from the butchery twice, once by a girl and again by ingenious spider Charlotte. A wise, moving guide on how to live in a world that is both beautiful and terrible.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote. The beloved film adaptation doesn’t tell the half of this story about the friendship between two New Yorkers, Holly and “Fred” (the unnamed narrator), living in the same brownstone.

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis. An orphaned boy struggles to survive in Depression-era Michigan. At turns achingly sad, poignant, and funny, it’s a page-turner.

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton. Wharton’s powerful, beautiful prose plays counterpoint to the ironic tragedy of Ethan Frome, who falls in love with his sickly wife’s beautiful cousin.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Eerily prophetic, the novel paints a grim portrait of a world without books. Quite a fitting pick for the day.

The Giver by Lois Lowry. A dystopia masquerades as a utopia, where every moment of citizens’ lives are mapped out for them. The novel provides a potent reminder of the value of difficult, painful experiences.

The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami. The mesmerizing story tells of a boy trapped in a library where creepy things happen. A brief and compelling visit to Murakami’s spooky dreamscapes.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The classic novel about the American dream, it is gorgeously written and timeless.

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt. Winnie Foster wrestles with whether or not to choose immortality. A moving and comforting novel for children or adults.

Sula by Toni Morrison. Two women who grew up together in a small Ohio town but took divergent paths reconnect in this powerful novel. One of my favorite novels by Morrison.

The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells. A scientist who figured out how to make himself invisible can’t make himself visible again. Chaos ensues in this suspenseful, philosophical, and spooky novel that raises timeless questions about the relationship between humans and science.

Countdown to ReadathonShopgirl by Steve Martin. A New Englander living in L.A. and working at Neiman Marcus pursues a womanizing millionaire and is pursued by a slacker. Achingly funny and well crafted.

More Baths Less Talking: Notes from the Reading Life of a Celebrated Author Locked in Battle with Football, Family, and Time Itself by Nick Hornby. A collection of Hornby’s “Stuff I’ve been Reading About” column for “The Believer.” Each piece is wonderfully intelligent, compassionate, insightful, and gets what it means to find meaning and connection through reading. As a bonus, you’ll take away loads of inspiration about what to read next, hence achieving the goal of the day.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin. With lush, sensory writing and a warm-hearted story about the power of storytelling, this novel for middle-grade readers is a delight from start to finish.

What short books do you recommend for a readathon?

4 Replies to “15 short books for National Readathon Day”

  1. This sounds like fun, even though I won’t be able to do it…but maybe some day, when my son is a little older, or I can find some way to slip away for a day….sigh…..

    You don’t say in your post if you’re going to do it. Do you plan to?

    As for book suggestions, your list was so great, and I can’t think of anything to add, especially because your books have some quality to them, whereas the kinds of books I often read in a day would be cheesy Kindle freebies, often of the “chick lit” variety, or something of that nature.

    But as I wrote that, one “respectable”* suggestion did come to mind: “Me Talk Pretty One Day,” David Sedaris’s collection of hilarious essays, and one of my favorite books of all time.

    *I put that in quotes because of your recent post about “guilty pleasures”.

    1. Thank you, Alysa! David Sedaris is a great choice. He’s hilarious, and I love that collection.

      Normally, Saturday is a perfect Readathon day for me. But, today is my son’s birthday, so I’m managing various birthday festivities. I’m definitely rooting for the Readathoners from the sidelines. 🙂

Comments are closed.