Whether you're an avid reader or reserve reading for a cozy vacation chair, finishing a whole book in a day is so satisfying. It's exciting to get lost in the pages of a fascinating memoir, a heartfelt romance, or a gripping thriller that simply won't let our attention go until the true killer is revealed. From fast-paced books to short ones, here’s what will make your upcoming long-weekend even more fulfilling.
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
If you’re in the mood for something off-beat.
Not all novel titles manage so very literally to describe the contents, but this one – unapologetically deadpan yet enticingly comic – absolutely does. Keiko, our protagonist, has been a worry to her family all her life, bullied and friendless, her behaviour sometimes even chilling. A self-professed oddball so to speak. In this book Keiko acts as a symbol of rebellion against the homogeneity and traditional values so highly upheld in Japanese culture. Sayaka Murata does not attempt to create a light, airy novel — instead infusing the story with black comedy and disturbing details that derails all semblance of normality. Truly a gift to anyone who has ever felt at odds with the world.
Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson
A modern-day love story couldn’t get better than this.
An emotionally intelligent and tender tale of first love, Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson examines, with great depth and attention, the intersections of creativity and vulnerability in the city of London. Narrated in second person, the 'you' of the novel embodies a self that is at once a detached observer and a self-reflexive voice shaping the narrator’s own story. It reads like a story being told by an old friend, so much so that by its closing paragraphs, you can’t help but feel emotionally drained, as if you’ve experienced love and loss alongside the characters. Open Water isn’t merely the story of two young Londoners. It’s everyone’s story.
Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan
Dealing with the mundaneness of adulthood is brought out aptly here.
Drawing comparisons to Sally Rooney’s work, Exciting Times, by Naoise Dolan, has many of the familiar tropes of the “millennial novel” covered: Jealousy and obsession, love and late capitalism, sex and the internet all come whirling together in a wry and bracing tale of class and privilege. The book centers on a millennial Irish expat named Ava who teaches abroad in Hong Kong and ends up in a love triangle with a banker, Julian, and a lawyer, Edith. If you love a book sprinkled with a dose of sarcasm, this is for you.
The Vegetarian by Han Kang
Dark dreams, simmering tensions, chilling violence, an all in one you’d devour.
The Vegetarian explores the relationship between Mr. Cheong and his wife - Yeong-hye after splintering, blood-soaked images from a dream haunt the latter's thoughts, which leads her to renounce eating meat. While this novel is about the vegetarianism of the protagonist, its range extends deeper into the lives of her narrating family members, offering musings on their crises and conflicts. The concept of vegetarianism becomes almost like a metaphor or euphemism of sorts that represents other deep-rooted issues the characters of the book struggle with. A conceptual work of art based around a single compelling idea, The Vegetarian, is as beguiling and enticing as it is perplexing and unexpected.
Recitatif by Toni Morrison
A short story that is sure to stay with you.
A brief and brilliant literary experiment, Recitatif by Toni Morrison revolves around two girls; Twyla (our narrator) and Roberta, as they go through their lives. But the book is a puzzle. It is made very clear that one of the girls is Black and the other is White, but it is never clear which is which. Morrison keeps the language just vague enough to make the reader unsure. As we read, Morrison forces us to guess the race of each character. She thus makes us consciously and intentionally use our racial biases, makes us dredge up the assumptions and categories usually tucked away into our dark subconscious and displays them front and center. People, through their biases, create categories. Recitatif throws bright light on those biases — grabs them by the nape and tosses them into the arena to be observed.