Books for Quick Reading
Savannah Winkler, Public Services Supervisor
Finding the time to read an entire book can be difficult. As someone who works full-time while completing my master’s degree, I know too well the struggle of actually finishing a book. I recently counted the number of books I’ve read this year and was disappointed with my progress. I’ve checked out dozens of books from the public library in 2023, but I read almost none of them. I started feeling a sense of defeat each time I returned a stack of unread books to our Circulation desk. Then it dawned on me. The books I had checked out were long, most between 400 to 600 pages. I simply didn’t have the time to finish these large books. After that realization, I decided to make a change. For a couple of months, I would only check out books that were 200 pages or less. Here are a few titles I enjoyed.
The novellas that make up Seanan McGuire’s “Wayward Children” series are the perfect bite-sized fantasy stories. The first book, “Every Heart a Doorway,” introduces readers to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children and its unusual residents. The young people who live at the Home have one thing in common, they’ve all gone through a doorway and found themselves in a magical land. And like Alice or the siblings from “Narnia”, they eventually return to the normal world. But this world no longer feels like home and most would do anything to find their doorways again. Each novella follows a different character’s journey. If you end up loving this series as much as I do, you’ll be happy to learn there are currently eight books with more on the way.
The best way to experience “Comfort Me with Apples” by Catherynne M. Valente is by knowing little about the plot before reading. This mysterious story follows Sophia, a woman who is happily married to her husband. Everything about Sophia’s life is perfect. Her husband is hardworking and her home in Arcadia Gardens is beautiful. But despite everything being perfect, Sophia begins to worry about strange things she can’t explain. Like why her husband is gone for long periods of time and the locked basement she isn’t allowed to enter. As strange and dark events unfold, Sophie begins to question everything she’s ever known.
Another title I enjoyed this year was “Convenience Store Woman” by Sayaka Murata. The protagonist of this short and unique story is Keiko Furukura, a thirty-six-year-old woman who has worked in a Japanese convenience store for eighteen years. Keiko has been considered strange her whole life and her family worries about her future. But when she starts working at the convenience store, she finds security in the repetitive tasks and easy-to-follow rules in the employee manual. Keiko is content with her life, but she knows she’s not living up to her family’s and society’s expectations. And when a cynical new employee begins working at the store, Keiko starts to wonder if it’s time for a change.
Checking out books at the library is easy, but actually reading them is much harder. I found that checking out shorter novels meant I was much more likely to finish them. As a result, I felt motivated to read even more books. If you’re looking for another motivator to read, consider joining the library’s Summer Reading Challenge. This year’s theme is “All Together Now” and the reading challenge is going on now and will continue until the end of July. All ages are welcome to join and win prizes such as coupons and books. If you’d like to join, stop by the library or sign up at mhklibrary.org/sr.
Manhattan Public Library is a cornerstone of free and equal access to a world of ideas and information for the Manhattan, Kansas, community. Manhattan Public Library serves more than 75,000 people in the Riley County area through curated book and other media collections, knowledgeable staff, relevant programming for all ages, and meeting space. Learn more at mhklibrary.org.