Unforgettable reads: Short books to read in a day

Erin Kodicek on March 12, 2020
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Unforgettable reads: Short books to read in a day

Each month we choose the best books of the month: an overall top ten of favorites, plus picks in popular genres like biography and memoir, history, mystery, romance, science fiction and more. This is great fun for us because we relish recommending great reads, but we didn’t want to be limited to just endorsing new titles. All bookworms have special gems we can't forget—beloved books that over the years we are still telling people: You gotta read this! So we launched a feature in January called Unforgettable Reads.

To rein ourselves in we decided to choose a different theme each month. For March we give you short books to read in a day. We hope you enjoy these bite-sized reads as much as we did.


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Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Not only will you gobble down Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti in a day; you’ll immediately snatch up the next two books in this trilogy. The first of her people to leave Earth, Binti flees her family in the night and joins students traveling to a far-off university that will hone her already epic mathematical skills. But a platoon of humanity’s enemies storm the vessel and kill everyone aboard except Binti. As she struggles to survive, Binti wobbles between wisdom and second-guessing herself. Just as endearingly, she also wobbles between leaning on her culture and recognizing new ways of thinking. Binti mixes soul searching with action-packed alien encounters, delivering a fun and rewarding read. —Adrian Liang



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Waiting for Eden by Elliot Ackerman

Waiting for Eden is a hauntingly spare, poetic, and emotional story about an injured Iraqi soldier who lies in a hospital bed—unresponsive. His wife is there by his side, only leaving to give birth to their daughter and later on, for Christmas. The book is narrated by his best friend and fellow soldier who unravels just how intertwined the three of them are. We learn about their pain, their regrets, and the unspoken and dark dreams they each hold. While you may need a tissue, this slim and powerful book can be devoured in an afternoon and will make you think differently about sacrifice, love, and war. —Al Woodworth


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Classic Krakauer by Jon Krakauer

Not only is this a short book, coming in at 174 pages, but it’s a book of essays. Which means that there are a handful of self-contained stories inside this short book. I took Classic Krakauer with me on vacation last week and, even though I’ve read much of his work, I was genuinely surprised by the quality of Krakauer’s short-form writing. The subjects he chooses. The details. The narrative choices he makes. Maybe all of his writing assignments didn’t reach the heights of something like “Mark Foo’s Last Ride,” but there isn’t a stinker in this entire collection of essays about people challenging themselves in the wild. They are all great. —Chris Schluep


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Look Alive Out There: Essays by Sloane Crosley

In this collection of essays, Sloane Crosley demonstrates, yet again, a knack for making the mundane miraculous. Reading Look Alive Out There is like listening to your smartest, funniest friend regale you about their (mis)adventures, be it waging war on a rude neighbor, making an ill-conceived climb up a volcano, or helping a swinger couple pick out a third (as you do). And like a friend, Crosley is not afraid to veer into vulnerable territory, which reveals the growth of a writer who first displayed her sardonic wit and keen appreciation of the absurd in I Was Told There’d Be Cake. It’s as good a time as any to be reminded that life is full of good humor, but only a select few do that as well as Sloane Crosley. —Erin Kodicek


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And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

When you pick up Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, be prepared to hunker down until the very end. Ten strangers are invited to a secluded island by a mysterious host, who then accuses each of them of murder. Their next nasty surprise is that they have no way off the island, and in the days that follow, each person begins to reveal their darkest secrets. Then one by one they begin to die. Christie is the master of suspense and this book is an unparalleled mystery of the highest order—one that will keep readers turning the pages until they get to the final, stunning conclusion. —Seira Wilson


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My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

My Sister, the Serial Killer may only be 240 pages long, but Oyinkan Braithwaite sure packs a lot into it. Korede’s a nurse with a work crush at the Lagos hospital in which she works, a crush who’s just fallen in love with Korede’s younger sister Ayoola. Which is a problem for a whole host of reasons, not least of which is the fact that Ayoola killed her last two boyfriends and Korede, stuck with clean up duty both times, is finally drawing a line in the sand. Sly, slick and daring, readers will devour this darkly funny serial killer tale. —Vannessa Cronin


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