Short books to read on the shortest day of the year

With busy schedules, it’s not always easy to find time to read an entire novel. If you’re looking to spend the day lost in a book, these are some of our favorite novellas that you can finish in 24 hours or less. Here are our favorite short books to read on the shortest day of the year.

Swearing Is Good for You: The Amazing Science of Bad Language by Emma Byrne

Dictionaries omit it, parents forbid it, and you can sure as heck that Grandma won’t be hearing any of it. Swearing – we all do it – but the latest scientific research reveals that swearing and cursing can actually have some surprising benefits. This quick read is a whirlwind of humor, history and research.


Mem by Bethany C. Morrow

Mem is a small book carrying very big ideas. Set over a century ago, history is altered as a scientist discovers a way to extract memories. Once extracted, those memories are relived by the Mem and repeated until death. But when one Mem becomes capable of creating her own memories, her story blossoms into the heartbreaking history of Montreal’s now forgotten slave trade.


Many Love by Sophie Lucido Johnson

In this debut novel of 272 pages, Johnson shares about an unconventional life of love as she explores her sexuality, her values and the types of love most accepted by society. Dating apps, jealousy, female friendship and identity are all themes touched upon as she examines what happened when she stopped looking for “the one.”


Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

When August runs into a childhood friend, memories of her past resurface to when she and her friends used to roam the streets of Brooklyn, feeling safe, brilliant and beautiful. But she’ll also be taken back to a dark place, a time where it might be better to let the memories stay below the surface. Dark and gritty, this is a story of moving from childhood to adulthood and what that meant for four young friends.


Beside the Sea by Véronique Olmi

In this heartbreaking book, a mother takes her two sons on a short vacation she knows will be their last. A story about mental illness, a struggling mother and the desperation of trying to survive, this short book will leave a huge impact on anyone who reads it.


Binti by Nnedi Okorafor 

At only 96 pages, this story of aliens and one brave young girl will have you in suspense from beginning to end. Binti has been given the rare opportunity to attend a new school for higher education when the fate of her galaxy falls into her lap. If she wants to save herself and those around her, she’ll have to make a decision she hadn’t anticipated.


Death Going Down by María Angélica Bosco

In this crime novel, a beautiful young girl is found dead in the elevator of a fancy apartment in Buenos Aires. When all the suspects seem to be hiding secrets, the detective on the case will have a hard time pinpointing just exactly went wrong.


Home by Toni Morrison

After escaping his hometown by joining the army, Frank Money returns to the place he hates when he hears his younger sister Cee is in trouble. Throughout his quest to bring Cee home, there will be secrets revealed and Frank will learn the importance of home and what it means to be a man.


If You’re Not Yet Like Me by Edan Lepucki

If You’re Not Yet Like Me is a slightly twisted romantic comedy wrapped into just 55 pages. Joellyn tells her unborn daughter the story of how she met Zachary, a man who is unemployed and dresses very poorly. This hilarious novella is a very short and satisfying read.


Different Seasons: Four Novellas by Stephen King

It may take you a few days to read this entire book but each story can be completed by the time the sun goes down. This collection includes the story that served as the basis for The Shawshank Redemption as well as three more dark stories that also inspired other cinematic classics. If you’re in the mood for a horror story or two, this is the collection of novellas for you.

(Feature image courtesy of @the_spines)
Alison Luther

Alison Luther is a freelance editor and writer based in Fredericksburg, TX, where she lives with her husband and two children. Her background is in digital consumer content and marketing strategies, but today she focuses on small business marketing, ghostwriting, and writing about all things books on She Reads. In addition to raising longhorn, chickens, and children, she loves to cook and is a voracious reader.

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