3 Pieces to Read When You Don’t Have Time for a Book

I love reading, but I never feel like I have the time to sit down and read a book. Even if I do, I feel like I should be spending that time doing something else, like maybe reading for class. If you also fall into this camp, here are three pieces — a short story, a personal narrative, and an investigative journalism article — that you can enjoy during a study break.

  1. If you didn’t get the chance to read “The Lottery” in high school, my heart breaks for you. Shirley Jackson’s infamous short story is hard to tease without giving away the tension that makes it so chilling, but I can say that it’s about a town with an annual rite that starts with children stacking stones.

    When it was published in 1948, “The Lottery” was so controversial it caused people to cancel their New Yorker subscriptions. South Africa banned it. Even Jackson’s own mother told her she found it upsetting. But that’s the point of “The Lottery”: reading it isn’t supposed to be a fun campfire story. It’s meant to scare readers and force them to analyze how conformity and mob mentality works its way into their own lives. This short story is crucial for anyone who wants to write, and if you read any of the pieces on this list, make it this one.

  2. “The Crane Wife” isn’t a haunting thriller like “The Lottery,” or a twisting narrative like the next article on the list. It’s the story of a woman putting her life — and herself — back together after it implodes. Hauser darts back and forth from her old life, with an emotionally unavailable husband who makes her constantly doubt her self-worth, to the scientific expedition she goes on immediately after leaving him, where she begins to heal and reconnect with herself, a long neglected figure. “The Crane Wife” is heartbreaking, but it’s also a reminder that we all deserve love from the people around us, and sometimes, it takes counting cranes to figure that out.

  3. I originally stumbled upon “Jesus’ Wife” while researching for a paper. While I wasn’t able to use the article as research, I did find the most plot-twisty story in existence.

    In 2012, Harvard professor Karen King presented a papyrus supposedly 1,300 years old proving that Jesus had a wife. Of course, the papyrus stirred up controversy; even though it passed carbon dating tests, it seemed a little too Da Vinci Code and had too many inconsistencies in its story to be real. Enter Ariel Sabar, the author of the article and investigator of this mystery. I won’t spoil the ending (partly because there’s so many moving parts I’d need another thousand words to describe it all), but as the teaser states, it involves “a Harvard professor, a one time Florida pornographer, and an escape from East Germany.” By the end, you’ll want to forward this article to everyone you know.

You won't regret reading these pieces, so consider choosing one the next time you'd rather read something other than a textbook for class.