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I’ve always loved short books, but recently bookish.cori on Instagram has made me revitalize me about mini-reads. It’s a perfect description of a particular type of book: not just short books, but books that you can devour in one sitting. Sitting down to read a book and not getting out for air until it’s done is a satisfying feeling.
There are many scenarios that require small volume books. Perhaps you are looking for a quick dose of relief in book form. You probably need an hour of a really good escape. Maybe you’re ready for a challenge but you only have one afternoon. Maybe you’re looking for the perfect book to help you through a breakup or movement, or maybe you’d like to try a new genre but aren’t ready to commit to a reading project.
Whatever situation you find yourself in, there is a compact book for you! These are some of my favorite books lately, books that I devoured in an hour or two. Because me, I made them all gay. They are all less than 200 pages long, with one exception (I promise it’s still pretty small). Beyond that, they don’t have much in common. I have included my stories, novelists, poetry, silly books, serious books, fantasy, and speculative literary novels.
The best thing about books in a compact size: If you like, you can add all these books to your TBR without too much fuss, because they are all quick to read!
If you procrastinate and need a book, you won’t be able to leave it
We had to remove this post by Hanna Bervoets tr. by Emma Raoult
Contemporary Novels, 160 pages
I sat down to read this on a Sunday morning, thinking I would alternate between it and some other book. no. I didn’t stop again until I finished it. It’s a great and scary book about the internet, social media and how it defines our lives – but it’s worth delving into without knowing anything else about it. It only took a few hours to read but I will think about it forever.
If you are in the middle of a breakup
Vena by Nino Sibri
Reflective fiction, 136 pages
This is one of those books that I recommend to everyone: it’s funny, silly, warm, and guaranteed to make you laugh. Set in a huge IKEA-style furniture store, only this store is full of wormholes in other universes. When a shopper accidentally falls, a recently disassembled staff is sent behind her. As they adventure together through time and space, they both come to understand more about themselves, their relationships, and what they want.
If you are ready for the best kind of challenge
Cancer Journals by Audrey Lord
My stories, 96 pages
Audrey Lorde packs an incredible amount of wisdom into this short book, a mixture of articles, lectures, and journal entries. She writes about her experience with breast cancer as a black lesbian feminist, the ways the medical industrial complex fails women, and the intersections of beauty, health, race, disease, and sexuality.
If you are confused, angry and sad about the state of the world
Grief by Adrian Marie Brown
A speculative fiction, 204 pages
I read this book after a particularly bad news week, and it felt like a salve, a release, and a call to action all in one. A mysterious disease descends on Detroit – people suddenly become infected, in the middle of their daily lives, and become unresponsive. Dion, whose mother was the first patient, travels through the slowly emptied city, trying to understand the disease destroying the home she loves. It’s a wonderful meditation on what it means to be sad, and what happens when we don’t.
If you are afraid of a big change in life
People change by Vivek Shraya
My stories, 112 pages
I hate change, and I know I’m not the only one. If you, too, feel anxious about considering a change, this is the book for you. Shraya writes about change from a variety of angles, exploring her own transition and music career, celebrity returns, divorce, and more. She contemplates the possibilities that exist in even the most terrifying change, and argues to celebrate the change for it, rather than trying to escape it.
If your Slack notifications are out of control
Many people write by Calvin Casulk
Reflective fiction, 256 pages
Don’t be fooled by the fact that this book is 256 pages long – you can read it easily in one sitting. It’s written entirely in Slack messages, which means there’s often more white space than text on each page. Hypothesis: An employee of a New York City PR firm accidentally uploads his consciousness into Slack and stumbles there. Slackbot is a complete thing. There is a lot of desk drama. It’s very strange, certainly surreal, terrifying, surprising, and ultimately optimistic.
If you need a dose of joy
Cheer Up by Crystal Frasier and Val Wise
Illustrated Fiction, 128 Pages
If you’re feeling down, this rush of weird joy is the ultimate pick in graphic novel form. I actually did a little dance when I finished reading it. It’s a heartfelt love story between a trans cheerleader and a prickly lesbian who joins the cheerleading squad in order to make friends and get some extracurricular materials for her college applications. Yes, there are some serious things about this. But also joking! the first love! friendship! Angry lesbian! she’s perfect.
If you’ve always wanted to experiment with hair but feel hesitant about it
Nature poem by Tommy Biko
Poetry, 78 pages
This might not be the easiest poem to read, but I think it’s a great poem to start with if you’re hesitant about poetry because it’s so fun, irreverent, smart, and creative. Biko writes in one long stream of consciousness about being indigenous and living in the city, about dating, relationships, and queer culture, about nature, art-making, and history. He’s full of pain and wisdom – he’s not so tender – but he also doesn’t always take himself too seriously. It is the opposite of blockage.
If you are sick of city living (or wish you lived in a small town)
Little Beauty by Jia King Wilson Yang
Contemporary Novels, 160 pages
This is a wonderful meditative book about Mei, a trans-Canadian Chinese woman who returns to the small town she grew up in after the death of her cousin. She spends a year in his old house, sad, remembers, and visits old friends and family. I am still in awe of all the layers of this novel. It’s a short book that seems to be four times longer. The characters and settings are amazingly real.
If you just moved to a new place
After Dragons by Cynthia Chang
Imagination, 160 pages
This is a beautiful and serene fantasy set in a near-future Beijing that has been devastated by climate change. A mysterious new disease is becoming common among humans, while the city’s dragon inhabitants are slowly dying due to a prolonged drought. Kai is a college student who takes care of an abandoned dragon when he can. He falls in love with Elijah, an American medical researcher who came to Beijing hoping to learn more about his deceased grandmother. It is a delicate romance that takes place in a clearly described world.
Are you looking for more great books to read in one sitting? Check out these must-read shorts and these short, fast-paced books. And if you’re looking for more whimsical short books, you can’t go wrong with our weird short story collections!