27 June 2019

10 Books Under 300 Pages You Can Crush This Long Weekend

We each know a handful of people who "just don't have time to read". What this actually means is that they don't like reading, but for those still in denial we've put together a list of 10 books under 300 pages that you can easily blow through this long weekend. We've included some classics, some essays, and some fun ones, so there are really no more excuses.

This short read is collected from Joan Didion's notebook during her trip to Alabama and Louisiana, and then wraps up with more thoughts on growing up in California. I would put Joan Didion on any list we do (and honestly pretty much all of her books are less than 300 pages) but this one is especially relevant for a hot-weather long weekend. So much of the language deals with heat and humidity and how uncomfortable it makes you. Here's an example I loved so much: "When we got back to the hotel I stood in the shower for almost a half hour trying to wash myself clean of the afternoon, but then I started thinking about where the water came from, what dark places it had pooled in." This is literally how I feel any time I spend more than 30 minutes laying out at a beach.

The book is also a quick read at 160 pages but it's also quick because of how it is laid out. It isn't one giant narrative. It's broken up into a ton of small sections and reads more like a stream of consciousness or reportorial notes. You can read my full review here!

Everybody wants to read this book or they're lying to themselves. It's a fantastic piece of pop culture This long weekend is the perfect time to bang this book out, or even to re-read it if it's been a while, which I'm debating. This is kind of a weird/horrifying story but I always think of it as being sort of a fun read. It's about a group of five sisters who have a suicide pact, and the story is written in first person but from the perspective of a group of neighbourhood boys observing the Lisbon sisters. I've always found this perspective especially interesting and it makes the story more relatable. If you're not into reading, you can still get a great experience watching the movie, but it's only 249 pages so it should be the perfect read for a laid back long weekend.

I actually just recently re-read this book because of how short it is (190 pages). I was first introduced to Desperate Characters through an essay by Jonathan Franzen. He mentioned that he finds himself revisiting this book over an over because of how compelling it is. Paula Fox's short novel is about a young married couple whose strained relationship comes to the forefront when one of them is bit by a rabid cat. This book has everything I love in it: paranoia, marital discord, fear of pain, etc. One of the final scenes is set out of the city in the couple's cottage - a perfect setting to read it! You can read my full review here!

While I wouldn't consider this an 'easy' read, it's only 226 pages and is a great look at Judaism, religion, and adulthood in general. If you've been looking for a good piece of fiction to sink your teeth into, this is a great choice, and not a lengthy commitment. I wrote a whole review on this book here, but it's essentially about Orthodox Jewish lesbians, one of which has sort of revolted from the community, who are reunited after the death of a family member. Alderman is an incredibly talented author, this book won the Orange Award for new writers in 2017 and Barack Obama had it on a bunch of his infamous reading lists.

Everyone has to read The Bell Jar. I don't know what else to say other than that this is a classic and can be enjoyed at any age. This is Sylvia Plath's only published novel and it's one of those books that is referenced so often in pop culture that you can't ignore it. I first read this book in my second year of undergrad and now feel like I should revisit it given that it's only 244 pages. It's obviously quite bleak but you'll feel accomplished after crossing it off your list of literary classics.

Production companies have been trying to make a film adaptation for decades but have never had a ton of success. I'm so excited (and anxious) because it was announced a few years ago that Kirsten Dunst was going to take a shot at it for her directorial debut. It was rumoured that Dakota Fanning would star as Esther. This team was made for me but who knows if this will take off. God I hope it does.

Moneyball was one of my favourite books I read in 2018. You can read my full review here. I imagine most people know/love the movie and the book delivers whether you've seen it or not. Reading this book would be a great way to spend your long weekend, even if you don't like baseball or know anything about it. Lewis takes a deep dive into the year Billy Beane tried a new draft strategy and led the Oakland A's to a record number of wins, but it's also about baseball culture in general and what it means to be a part of it. My edition is just shy of 300 pages, and if you have been 'meaning to read this' there's no time like this weekend.

If you want to be so disturbed by a book that you feel like you shouldn't be reading it on a public beach than do I have a recommendation for you! Stefan bought me this for Christmas years ago and I remember reading it uncomfortably in the Convent Garden Market while I lived in London. I was constantly hoping no one was reading over my shoulder but much like a car accident it was hard to look away. But this is sort of why you feel compelled to finish the book - to see what horrible state the characters are left in.

Bret Easton Ellis was christened into the literary Brat Pack in the 1980s where he had early success. I know Ellis can be a bit of an asshole and has some (very) unpopular opinions, but I think his work is worth exploring. Ellis is obsessed with Joan Didion and it is so apparent in his own writing. The first page alone was so reminiscent of Didion's prose style and that's what I enjoyed about this short (208 pages), dark, deranged novel.

Meghan got me into Chuck Klosterman at least five years ago and this is my favourite book of his I've read. It's a collection of essays, each taking a close look at an individual pop culture 'villain' (O.J. Simpson, Perez Hilton, Hitler, etc.) and how they influenced society. Klosterman is an amazing observer and thus writes some of the best non-fiction on culture. Not only are essays incredibly easy to whip through, but the content here is so interesting and so widely approachable that you'll be finished it in no time. It's only 225 pages and you'll feel so educated in villainy and ready to talk anyone's ears off back at work on Tuesday.

I don't usually love short story collections but I understand that sometimes they are the easiest books to fly through. Miranda July is a filmmaker and visual artist who has been writing short stories forever. I believe No One Belongs Here More Than You was her first published collection of stories and it's 224 pages altogether. This collection is definitely weird but if you know anything about July then you won't be surprised, but if you are looking to expand your selection of authors then give her a try! Meg reviewed her novel The First Bad Man in full here.

I just believe in my soul that no summer reading list is complete without an Elin Hilderbrand novel. The Love Season is my absolute favourite and just squeaks onto this list at 294 pages. It's about a complex web of relationships that spans across generations and is set on beautiful Nantucket Island. This is the perfect book to relax with poolside or on the beach. I don't think you can go wrong with any Hilderbrand novels this long weekend, but this one is particularly short, allowing you to ideally finish by the time The Bachelorette starts on Monday. I wrote a whole review on it here.

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