So you want to join the hundreds of nerds reading for 24 straight hours in Dewey’s Readathon this weekend, or you’re going on an unexpectedly long train trip, but your physical TBR is all dense nonfiction or super upsetting political memoirs. You need quick, snappy fast-paced reads and you need them NOW. All the recs you can think of have holds lists a thousand miles long and you don’t have any bookish meatspace friends to borrow from.
But you have never had enough time to read All The Books, which means SO MANY BOOKS HAVE PASSED YOU BY, LIKE SHIPS IN THE NIGHT, slowly sinking because paper is not waterproof.
Now’s you’re chance to read all those backlisters. Here are some short(ish), fun, compulsively readable books all at least two years old. Get on that library website and carpe bookum.
Phoebe and Her Unicorn—Dana Simpson
Calvin and Hobbes but like with a girl and her unicorn and also better jokes. I criiiiiiied laughing through each of these books, and they don’t have, like, narrative arcs that require you to read them in order, so just grab whichever one your library has.
The Walls Around Us—Nova Ren Suma
This is the ballerina-based revenge novel I have spent my life not knowing I needed. There are some girls in prison? And then some weird shit happens and you’re like, What, and then you find out a bit later that they ALL DIED and you are like, Is this a different timeline or are they ghosts or what is happening.
Everything I Never Told You—Celeste Ng
This is a touching and emotional and FAST-PACED family drama about the death of a favorite daughter but also lies and secrets and expectations and the writing is gorgeous.
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms—N.K. Jemisin
Oh are you ninetieth on the list for like six copies of The Stone Sky? Never you MIND, because the Inheritance Trilogy, starting with The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, is much older and everyone has forgotten all about it (and is just as good but not as, like, ok let’s be honest the Broken Earth trilogy requires some Attention-Paying and you might not be up to it by hour seventeen of straight reading).
Infandous—Elana K Arnold
This one is a GUT PUNCH so its wonderful brevity might be outweighed by the time you need afterwards to recover. Its about making art and healing from trauma and discovering your own agency and it is a TRIUMPH but also that gut punch. But ALSO it’s like 150 pages, and readable af.
This is such a weird, funny, heartbreaking little book about a boy whose family moves to an island surrounded by magical fish that can cure your whatever. AND THEN HE MEETS A BOY WHO IS HALF FISH AND THEY FALL IN LOVE BUT IT’S COMPLICATED.
Anything by Liane Moriarty or her sister Jaclyn
Big Little Lies might be unavailable due to a resurgence in popularity brought on by the HBO series, but The Husband’s Secret or What Alice Forgot or The Hypnotist’s Love Story, or any of Jaclyn’s books (which are all titled worse than they deserve) are MARVELOUS and plotty and smart and fun.
Sea Hearts/The Brides of Rollrock Island—Margo Lanagan
This novel about strong, powerful women who are actually seals, and the men who love them and how that fucks the seal-women over, it is surprisingly lovely and also revengeful and I usually dgaf about plot structure but in this case it is fucking flawless.
Other Rioters Recommend But I Myself Have Not Read The Following (So Obviously I Put Them On Hold For My Own Readathonning Pleasure)
Evil Librarian—Michelle Knudsen
Ally Hughes Has Sex Sometimes—Joules Moulin
Relish: My Life in the Kitchen—Lucy Knisley
The Book of Unknown Americans—Cristina Henriquez
The Poor Relations series—Marion Chesney
The Star Side of Bird Hill—Naomi Jackson
Visitation Street—Ivy Pochoda
The Never List—Koethi Zan
What are your favorite fast-paced reads?