It’s the most wonderful time of the year. That is, it’s that time when we all panic about not meeting our reading goals. While I don’t put a lot of stock in numeric reading goals, it’s always nice to feel that sense of accomplishment when you meet a year-long goal. If you’re still a book or two away from your reading goal, here are 9 quick reads whose shorter page count doesn’t mean sacrificing depth or beauty.
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton (68 pages)
This was my first Wharton and the ending will haunt me forever. This tragic story of love and obligation is a perfect winter read and at less than 100 pages is easy to fit into the busiest schedule. And trust me, Wharton knows how to build the kind of suspense that will keep you turning pages.
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (96 pages)
This children’s classic is one of my all-time favorite books. Saint-Exupery’s writing is so wise and so vulnerable. The story of a young boy trying to get back to his beloved flower and the man who befriends him is incredibly heart-warming and built on a philosophy of wonder and love.
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (110 pages)
Cisneros is a contemporary writer of classics and I’m sure we’ll be reading her books for the next century. The House on Mango Street is my favorite with its impressionistic vignettes and visceral honesty about coming of age as a Mexican-American girl.
Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss (144 pages)
This 2019 release is utterly brilliant. Following a group of people participating in an Iron Age historical reenactment, Ghost Wall takes many unexpected turns as it meditates on familial obligation, ambition, and obsession. This is a dark story that still wants to leave readers with a glimmer of hope.
Passing by Nella Larsen (160 pages)
Passing is an underappreciated classic that more readers need to pick up. Set in and written during the Harlem Renaissance, the book centers on two African-American women who can “pass” as white. This premise creates a sense of foreboding that settles over the novel as it builds towards its final--and totally bananas--climactic scene.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote (160 pages)
Holly Golightly might be the original manic pixie dream girl. While this book contains some highly problematic content, it’s a magnetic read and a good one for anyone obsessed with the Hepburn movie or any reader who adores Capote’s very different bestseller, In Cold Blood.
Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson (192 pages)
Focusing on four Black girls coming of age in 1970s Brooklyn, Woodson has created one of the best stories of female friendship I’ve ever encountered. In less than four audiobook hours, Woodson manages to offer deep analysis of memory, grief, motherhood, and friendship in some of the most stunning poetic language I’ve read this year.
On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan (203 pages)
I read this book over a year and a half ago and I’m still thinking about it. On Chesil Beach primarily takes place in one night: the wedding night of a young bride and groom. As they attempt to consummate their marriage, the cracks in their relationship are revealed and failed communication results in disaster. This book is quietly devastating and singularly poignant.
Good Talk by Mira Jacob (368 pages)
Closing in on 400 pages, Good Talk is the outlier of the list. However, this graphic novel can be read in a single sitting, and I promise you you won’t want to close it once you pick it up. Jacob tells the story of her parents’ immigration, her journey to become a writer, and her experience with marriage and motherhood through an ongoing conversation with her son about race in contemporary America. This is a book you’ll devour and then return to again and again.