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Books to Binge: Short Reads

Sometime between adulthood and the joys of high school puberty, I stopped reading for fun. The last thing I wanted to do after studying the mountains of textbooks and papers I was assigned to read for classes was pick up another book.

Reading short books ended up helping me a lot more than I ever thought: I got the joy and satisfaction of reading a book because I could stay focused long enough to not feel frustrated.

So, if you’re looking to get back into the reading habit, or just want a quick read, here are some of my favorites:

1. The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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Favorite excerpt: “But then I remembered how my studies had been concentrated on geography, history, arithmetic and grammar, and I told the little chap (a little crossly, too) that I did not know how to draw. He answered me: ‘That doesn’t matter. Draw me a sheep…’”

 

The Little Prince is the literary embodiment of sweet, sweet nostalgia. An old man tells a story about his youth — when he met a little prince in the desert. The prince leaves his home planet, where the sun sets forty-four times a day, meets inhabitants from other planets (and not all of them are nice) and teaches the old man things some integral life lessons.

 

Beautifully illustrated and written, this book is amazing to thumb through, especially if you’re looking for some introspection.

2. A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning, by Daniel Handler

📚 ¡Nueva lectura! 📚 🇪🇸 El libro que estoy leyendo ahora es el cuarto de Una serie de castatroficas desdichas de Lemony Snicket : El aserradero lúgubre. Amo esta saga y no puedo esperar a la segunda temporada en Netflix. ¿Vosotros qué estáis leyendo ahora, ratoncitos? • • 🇬🇧 The book I'm reading now is the fourth book of A series of unfortunate events by Lemony Snicket: The miserable Mill. I love these books and can't wait for the second season of the Netflix series. And what are you reading now? __________________________________________ #bookstagram #bookcollection #reseñas #book #bookself #booktube #bookblog #blogger #bookworm #bookphotography #photography #estanterias #libros #libreros #aseriesofunfortunateevents #themiserablemill #lemonysnicket

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Favorite excerpt: “The Baudelaire orphans stared at the scrap of paper, and then at Hector, and then at the scrap of paper again. Then they stared at Hector again, and then at the scrap of paper once more and then at Hector once more and then at the scrap of paper once again, and then at Hector once again and then at the scrap of paper one more time.”

This is one of my all-time favorite book series. Although it’s for children, the ideas and intrigue behind the plot definitely keeps adults plenty interested. The book features the Baudelaire children — Violet, Klaus and Sunny — and their horrible guardian, Count Olaf, who takes care of the children once their parents die in a mysterious fire.

The highlights include the on-point narration, the series’ building tone and the fact that season two of the Netflix adaptation of this series is coming out in the next few months (yay!).

3. Thunderstruck & Other Stories, by Elizabeth McCracken

Favorite excerpt: “‘I’m so sorry,’ he said, because after Pamela died, he promised himself that if anyone told him the smallest, saddest story, he would answer, I’m so sorry. Meaning, Yes, that happened. You couldn’t believe the people who believed that not mentioning sadness was a kind of magic that could stave off the very sadness you didn’t mention – as though grief were the opposite of Rumpelstiltskin and materialized only at the sound of its own name.”


Thunderstruck holds a collection of beautifully written short stories. I first discovered this book when I was 16 and I still return to it every time I want to read something I know will be good.

Some of the stories follow the lives of World War II soldiers, while others take a look at modern love. All of the stories encompass poignant dilemmas for any reader, from issues of religion to sexual orientation to identity to war, you can find something very raw and very human in each of the stories.

4. A Very Short Introduction, authors vary

Favorite excerpt: “History is above all else an argument. It is an argument between different historians; and, perhaps, an argument between the past and the present, an argument between what actually happened, and what is going to happen next. Arguments are important; they create the possibility of changing things,” — John H. Arnold, History: A Very Short Introduction

There are almost too many “A Very Short Introduction” books to count. Each one tackles a different concept, from broad ideas like Beauty and Sleep, to more specific ones that discuss the scientist Copernicus or classical mythology. They break down complex ideas and theory so that you can understand them with ease.

Simple and articulate, these books are perfect if you’re trying to learn something new or are even just hoping to whip out some knowledge at your work friend’s next dinner party.

5. The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson

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Favorite excerpt: “Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened, but go on in fortune or misfortune at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm.”

Okay, so you might have already been forced to read this for school at some point (or maybe you skimmed the Sparknotes on it — we won’t tell). Regardless, this book is definitely worth reading on your own too. The story follows London lawyer Gabriel John Utterson as he investigates the mysterious links between Dr. Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde.

While the book starts off as a bit of a slow burn, it quickly becomes a page-turner. It’s a perfect fit for someone looking to get wrapped up in a book.

Bonus 6: The Elements of Style, by William Strunk Jr.

Favorite line: “Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.”

This is a bonus pick for anyone who wants to better their writing. Strunk speaks with precision, clarity and humor. Surprisingly witty, this book teaches you how to write well—something we all could use.

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