As December nears, so does the finish line for those Goodreads and Stroygraph reading challenges. Unfortunately, the New Year’s ambition doesn’t always carry through the year, and between midterms and Twitter, time seems to slip through the cracks. But don’t give up yet – some carefully selected, shorter books can make reaching your goal quick and painless. Here are five of my favorites.
1. The Stranger by Albert Camus – 159 Pages
A man, unbothered by his mothers death, lives a life colored mostly by apathy. This book explores his mind and follows his thought process through a series of trials. The 1942 philosophical classic is the poster child for absurdism in literature. “The Stranger ” may be a quick read, but it’ll cement itself in your brain and refuse to leave. The book’s apathetic appeal is demonstrated through a quote from the main character, Meursault: “Since we’re all going to die, it’s obvious that when and how don’t matter”
2. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk – 208 Pages
I’ve read this book no less than five times. Fast-paced and gripping. Palahniuk masters the art of a novel that is purely action, and he doesn’t waste time with adjectives or any of that bullshit. The novel follows an unnamed narrator as he joins a club (who’s name I won’t mention) and begins a codependent relationship with one Tyler Durden. This book is packed with quotable lines, and I believe it was both my parents’ favorite book for some time, if that sways your opinion.
3. In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan – 138 Pages
This is a surreal, post-apocalyptic short story following an unnamed narrator’s attempt to document the goings on of his commune, like society, focusing in on their central location, iDEATH. For fans of Harry Styles everywhere, yes this is THE watermelon sugar, a certain insight into “Fine Line”’s lyricism and music videos. “In Watermelon Sugar” is written in short chapters and is easily devoured in one sitting.
4. Paradise Rot by Jenny Hval – 161 Pages
Jenny Hval has landed effortlessly amongst my favorite authors. “Paradise Rot” centers around Jo, who has left Norway for college, and is living in an apartment with a strange woman and no walls. Jenny Hval is a musician as well as an author, and you can hear it in the rhythm of her writing. This book becomes all the more enthralling as reality falters and surrealism sets in.
5. On Sun Swallowing by Dakota Warren – 90 Pages
This is without a doubt the best debut poetry collection I’ve ever read, and some of the best poetry I’ve read period. Haunting, relatable and bursting with imagery. Existential and clever, this collection delves into girlhood, romance, god and rot. Between poems are stunning images; the book’s aesthetic is gorgeous, even beyond the writing. This collection can be read in a sitting but will invite you back to revisit and share something new every time.