Reading is a favorite hobby of many — a way to learn, to relax, or to have fun. On September 6, celebrate Read a Book Day with some books you really can read in one day; everything on this list is less than 250 pages! Whether you’re a voracious reader who flies through hefty tomes or a more occasional reader, there’s a variety of titles below to suit every interest and many more available on our shelves. Happy reading!
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – In the future, firemen start fires rather than put them out. Montag’s job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities: books. Montag never questions the destruction, until his eccentric neighbor introduces him to a different way of viewing the books he’s been burning. When his wife attempts suicide and his young friend disappears, Montag begins to question everything he’s ever known.
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde – Written in his distinctively dazzling manner, Wilde tells the story of a fashionable young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty resulting in his own moral disintegration.
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn – Ivan is a common carpenter, one of millions of people imprisoned for countless years on baseless charges, sentenced to the waking nightmares of the Soviet work camps in Siberia. Yet even in the face of degrading hatred, hope and dignity prevail. A powerful indictment of tyranny and an eloquent affirmation of the human spirit.
News of the World by Paulette Jiles – In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people. Their long journey south through unsettled and unforgiving terrain proves difficult, yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors begin to trust each other. Exquisite, morally complex, and multi-layered.
Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson – Running into a long-ago friend sets memories from the 1970s in motion for August, transporting her to a time and a place where friendship was everything — until it wasn’t. For August and her girls, Brooklyn was a place where they believed that they were beautiful, talented, brilliant. But beneath the veneer, there was a dangerous place where grown men reached for innocent girls in dark hallways, where ghosts haunted the night, where mothers disappeared. A world where madness was just a sunset away…
A Meal in Winter by Hubert Mingarelli – During WWII, three German soldiers are dispatched into the frozen Polish countryside, charged with bringing back a Jew for execution. Once they find a Jewish man, they rest in an abandoned house with a passing Pole and share a meal. Before long, the group’s sympathies have splintered as they consider the moral implications of their murderous mission and confront their own consciences.
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata – Keiko has never fit in anywhere, but when she begins working at the Hiiromachi branch of “Smile Mart,” she finds peace and purpose in her life. Managers come and go, but Keiko stays at the store for eighteen years. She’s happy, but the people close to her increasingly pressure her to find a husband and to start a proper career, prompting her to take desperate action.
Beasts of No Nation by Uzodinma Iweala – As civil war rages in an unnamed West-African nation, Agu, the young protagonist, is recruited by guerilla fighters. While the war continues, Agu becomes increasingly divorced from the life he had known before the conflict started. As he vividly recalls these sunnier times, his daily reality continues to spin further downward into inexplicable brutality, primal fear, and loss of selfhood.
An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good by Helene Tursten – Ever since her father’s untimely death when she was only 18, Maud has lived in the family’s apartment rent-free, thanks to a minor clause in a hastily negotiated contract. That was how Maud learned that good things can come from tragedy. Now 88, this bold lady will handle a crisis with a local celebrity, foil the engagement of her long-ago lover, and dispose of some pesky neighbors. But when the local authorities are called to investigate a murder in her apartment complex, will Maud be able to avoid suspicion, or will the Detective Inspector see through her charade?
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor – Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean traveling between the stars among strangers who do not share or respect her customs. Also, the world she seeks to enter has long warred with an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. If Binti hopes to survive a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University… but first she needs to make it there alive.
The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson – Shai is a Forger, a foreigner who can flawlessly copy and re-create any item with skillful magic. Condemned to death for theft, she is given one opportunity to save herself: to create a new soul for the emperor, who is almost dead. Probing deeply into his life, she discovers Emperor Ashravan’s truest nature — and the opportunity to exploit it. Brimming with magic and political intrigue.
The Dead House by Billy O’Callaghan – Maggie is a successful artist who has had bad luck with men. Her last put her in the hospital and, after she’s healed physically, left her needing to find a place of quiet that will restore her creative spirit. On the rugged coast of Ireland, she finds and buys the shell of an old cottage. When work on the house is done, she invites a few friends out for the weekend to celebrate. On the boozy last night, they pull out an Ouija board and summon an ancient, sinister thing that — once invited — will never go away.
Night by Elie Wiesel – Born in Transylvania, Elie Wiesel was a teenager when he and his family were taken from their home in 1944 to Auschwitz concentration camp, and then to Buchenwald. This is the terrifying record of his memories of the death of his family, the death of his own innocence, and his despair as he confronts the absolute evil of man.
The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills by Daniel Coyle – An easy-to-use handbook of scientifically proven, field-tested methods to improve skills. The product of five years of reporting from the world’s greatest talent hotbeds and interviews with master coaches, it distills the daunting complexity of skill development into 52 clear, concise directives. Whether you’re on the sports field or the stage, in the classroom or the corner office, this is an essential guide for anyone who ever asked, “How do I get better?”
The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction by Alan Jacobs – In this book, Jacobs argues that, contrary to the doomsayers, reading is alive and well in America. There are millions of devoted readers, but many wonder whether they are reading well, with proper focus and attentiveness, with due discretion and discernment. Many have absorbed the puritanical message that reading is, first and foremost, good for you. For such people, indeed, for all readers, Jacobs offers some simple, powerful, and much-needed advice: read at whim, read what gives you delight, and do so without shame. Jacobs offers an insightful, accessible, and playfully irreverent guide for all readers.
*All synopses and book covers from GoodReads. Edited for space.
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