All of us have a handful of one-sitting reads. Those books that are so thin and, in general, short that, as long as you aren’t a snail-reader like me, you can read in one go. I don’t think it’s any secret that I’m a slow reader, but even I got through each of these in a very short amount of time, which I’d like to attribute to their readability and amazing story telling and less so to any new-found, super-reader skill of my own.
If you’re looking for something to buzz through in one sitting, or keep in your backpack or purse for the subway ride, or even just to fill the tiny gap between your bigger books on your shelf, then you can’t go wrong with these glorious reads.
Lady Susan – by Jane Austen
What to Love: Obviously all the classic things found in Jane Austen’s most acclaimed books can also be found cram-packed into this short, ninety-page novella. Comedy, love, insipid as well as beloved characters, the whole nine yards. Additionally, the classic Jane Austen wit is stronger than ever.
Reading Time: I believe it only took me a week to read this. And that was with many other things happening.
Added Bonus: The cover! It’s just beautiful.
The Wide Sargasso Sea – by Jean Rhys
What to Love: If you’ve ever wanted to know just how complicated and crazy the history of Mr. Rochester’s (of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre fame) first marriage is, look no further. Beautifully written, and far less of a fanfic than a moving history of a character we all initially hated, the one hundred and forty-nine pages will give you a new appreciation for Mr. Rochester’s first wife and everything she suffered.
Reading Time: I think this one only took me around three days.
Perfect For: Anyone who loves Jane Eyre. We are given a very biased perspective of the woman in the attic, it’s nice to have an actual history.
A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich – by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
What to Love: “What to love” seems a little out of place regarding a book about a Soviet labor camp. But one thing I do love, as I do with all historical pieces like this one, is the brutal honesty and glaring detail of something I am lucky enough to hopefully never have to live through. God willing, there will be a day when no one will suffer through any of these conditions. I am always overwhelmed with a new appreciation for the bravery and fortitude of people who suffered in these horrible, yet very real, situations, and I’m always humbled and inspired.
Reading Time: Two to three days if you have the time.
Favorite Quote: “Easy money doesn’t weigh anything and it doesn’t give you that good feeling you get when you really earn it.”
Of Mice and Men – by John Steinbeck
What to Love: The one hundred and seven pages of pure classic literature. I had never been required to read this during school and when I saw it in person, and how short it was, it was an immediate buy. I think I’m a little too dumb to completely understand the wisdom of this book, but the story itself was more enjoyable than high-school-me ever thought it would be.
Reading Time: I’m pretty sure I had this completely read in a day and a half.
Added Bonus: Of Mice and Men is on most books-you-have-to-read-before-you-die lists, so you can go ahead and check that one off.
The Tales of Beedle the Bard – by J.K. Rowling
What to Love: It’s an actual book of fairy tales from the Harry Potter universe. Next.
Reading Time: The nice thing about this one is you can read the individual fairy tales like you would any other book of fairy tales; as stand alone, or you can read the whole book in one go. Depending on how you approach it, it’s a pretty quick read overall.
Added Bonus: This book contains Albus Dumbledore’s notes on the fairy tales. Honestly, the work that went into making this a beautifully authentic addition to an already beloved world is awesome. Nerd moment over.
The Westing Game – by Ellen Raskin
What to Love: The fact that you can solve the mystery as you go. It’s been years and years since I’ve read this book, but I remember being completely in love with the whole idea. It was complicated and fun and, if I remember correctly, actually difficult to solve. We (my brother, sister, and me) even wrote down the various clues, but we still couldn’t solve it.
Reading Time: Honestly, it depends on how thorough you are and how well you keep up. Maybe a week?
Added Bonus: This was an inspiration for some really early creative writing of mine that I promise will never see the light of day.
The Stranger – by Albert Camus
What to Love: The surreal nature of the main character. This was the first truly “foreign” book I had ever read. And it was oddly satisfying. I loved the landscape, the weird events, the character’s passivity coupled with his desire to feel something. Anything.
Reading Time: I finished this one in a little less than a week, but I have full confidence that, had I been given an uninterrupted day, I could have finished it in one sitting.
Added Bonus: My sister and I agree that this is the literary equivalent of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” We’ll fight you on that one.
(as if you don’t know that song: here’s a link)
Any other skinny book recommendations? I’d love to hear them!