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Books to Help You Finish Your Goodreads Challenge

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Alabama chapter.

As the year speeds up, people tend to reflect on their goals made on January 1, and how well they have stuck to them so far. For bookish people all over the globe, one such goal is the Goodreads Reading Challenge. Here, Goodreads members set a number of books they want to read during the year. Some choose to play it safe and set goals they are optimistic they will reach, while others are ambitious and try to read as many books as possible. Whether you are one of the latter desperately trying to stay on track with your 2023 Goodreads Reading Challenge or simple need book recommendations, here is a list of three short books to read. 

  1. Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi  

Becoming a recent Book Tok favorite, Before the Coffee Gets Cold is the first in the series set in the Funiculi Funicula café. The novel is divided into four chapters, each one a story about people who have heard the legend that one can travel back in time here and make pilgrimages to the café to find out for themselves. They all have come for different reasons. One woman is there to see her sister alive one final time, while another is visiting her daughter she never got to meet. Each traveler learns that while the rumors are true, there are specific rules they must follow to journey to the past. Some include that there is only one seat that can take them to the past, their present will not change regardless of what is said, but, most importantly, they must drink their coffee before it gets cold. If they do not, they will be forced to remain in the café as a ghost forever. At 213 pages, this book is perfect for a quick read! Be sure to pick up Before the Coffee Gets Cold! 

  1. Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson  

Want to read a short but powerful work of literary fiction? Look no further than Open Water. This novel tells the story of two Black artists, one a dancer and the other a photographer in London. After meeting in a pub one night, the two begin a friendship as they start to fall in love with each other. The book takes the reader through their relationship as friends and lovers, as they ebb and flow in and out of each other’s lives. Nelson writes in poetic, passionate prose about a variety of intense topics, such as racism, love, pain, and gun violence. It is astounding that he is able to contribute such a beautiful novel to the literary canon in a mere 145 pages. Open Water is a story that will leave you thinking about it long after you’ve finished reading.  

  1. The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood 

Calling all Greek mythology fanatics! Here is a retelling that may have slipped your notice. The Penelopiad analyzes the character of Penelope, Odysseus’ wife, who waited 20 years for his return, constantly tricking her suitors so she wouldn’t have to marry one of them. Written by the iconic Margaret Atwood, author of the modern classic The Handmaid’s Tale, the novel focuses on what else Penelope did during those two decades, as well as another overlooked aspect of the myth. When Odysseus returns, after he has proven himself to be the ruler of Ithaca, he slaughters Penelope’s suitors as well as twelve maids who they had taken for lovers. Atwood delves deep into the reasoning behind this and what it says about Odysseus, as well as Penelope’s thoughts on the matter. At 198 pages, The Penelopiad is a profound feminist retelling of The Odyssey that you won’t want to miss! 

  1. Galatea by Madeline Miller 

Though this story is more of a novella, it can still count towards your Goodreads challenge! Another Greek mythology retelling, this one focuses on the character of Galatea. Madeline Miller, the critically acclaimed author of other Greek myth retellings, The Song of Achilles and Circe, ponders what happens after Pygmalion sculpts his bride, Galatea. In this version, Pygmalion is a selfish, angry husband who keeps Galatea imprisoned. She isn’t allowed to see her daughter and is constantly surrounded by doctors, trusted to keep her hidden away. Galatea tells the story of her escape and what her and her child’s freedom will cost. A mere 56 pages, this moving, heartbreaking novella is a strong introduction to Greek mythology for those wanting to learn more about the subgenre and an interesting take on the famous myth for those already acquainted with it.   

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Olivia Womack

Alabama '25

Olivia is a sophomore at the University of Alabama double majoring in English and History. She enjoys writing, reading historical fiction, and obsessively listening to musicals.