By JENNE BERGSTROM
Summer may be winding down, but there’s still plenty of time for relaxing and reading among all your other favorite vacation and sunshine activities.
At the beginning of June, it felt like a luxury to pick up an 800-page epic novel and tune out the world, but by August you might want something a little more manageable.
Here’s a list of great novels that leave a big impression despite their small size — they all come in under 250 pages. Plus, if your reading session morphs into naptime, it won’t hurt if you drop one of these books on your foot!
“Housekeeping” by Marilynne Robinson is a beautifully written story of two eccentric sisters growing up in a small town in the West. Robinson’s writing isn’t showy, but every sentence is perfect.
“True Grit” by Charles Portis follows the quest of a 14-year-old girl to hunt down the men who killed her father. Despite this rather grim premise, the book is hilarious, with one of the most distinctive character voices you’ll ever read. The audio version narrated by Donna Tartt is also a delight, and available to download through the Libby app.
“Slade House” by David Mitchell is a short, visceral horror novel about a creepy house that you can’t leave. David Mitchell loves to mix genres and time periods to kaleidoscopic effect, and he manages to fit a whole world into a tiny space.
“The Daughter of Time” by Josephine Tey is a mystery novel with an unusual premise: a police detective who’s recovering in the hospital solves a historical mystery (did Richard III really kill the princes in the tower?) without ever leaving his bed. A classic!
“The Queen’s Gambit” by Walter Tevis is the book that the recent Netflix series was based on. It’s a gripping story of a young woman chess prodigy in the 1960s. Even if you know nothing about chess, his descriptions of games will have you on the edge of your seat, and the main character is unforgettable.
“A Company of Swans” by Eva Ibbotson begins with a young Englishwoman who has led an extremely sheltered life with ballet as her only creative outlet. When she is offered the opportunity to go to Brazil with a dance company, will she take the chance and escape her dull home life?
Come and see us at the library and get more book recommendations in person. We are open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and 24/7 online at SDCL.org with ebooks, downloadable audio, streamable StoryTimes, and much more!
— Jenne Bergstrom is managing librarian at the La Mesa Branch of the San Diego County Library.