27 Short Books You Can Start (& Finish) Over Thanksgiving Weekend
Between cooking the turkey (and millions of sides) and scrambling to score all of the best Black Friday deals, Thanksgiving weekend can get a little stressful. And what better way to chill out that to crack open a good book—especially if you can start and finish said book before you go back to work on Monday (ugh). You might be thinking, I can't read a whole book over the weekend, what are you talking about?! But here's the thing: If we can binge-watch four seasons of a Netflix series in a weekend (guilty), we can—and should—do the same for books. Allow us suggest 27 quick reads that you can start and finish over Thanksgiving weekend.
1. we are the brennans by tracey lange
When 29-year-old Sunday Brennan wakes up in a Los Angeles hospital, bruised and battered after a drunk driving accident she caused, she swallows her pride and goes home to her family in New York. But it's not easy. She deserted them all five years before with little explanation, and they've got questions. The longer she stays, however, the more she realizes they need her just as much as she needs them. In the vein of Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney's The Nest, We Are the Brennans explores the redemptive power of love in an Irish Catholic family torn apart by secrets.
2. everyone knows your mother is a witch by rivka galchen
In 1618, in the German duchy of Württemberg, plague is spreading and the Thirty Years' War has begun. In the small town of Leonberg, Katharina Kepler is accused of being a witch. An illiterate widow, known by her neighbors for her herbal remedies and the success of her children, Katharina has done herself no favors by being out and about and in everyone's business. Accused of offering a local woman a drink that has made her ill, Katharina—with the help of her scientist son—must try to convince the community of her innocence.
3. fake accounts by lauren oyler
On the eve of Donald Trump's inauguration, a young woman snoops through her boyfriend's phone and makes the startling discovery that he's an anonymous—and popular—internet conspiracy theorist. Left with no reason to stay in New York and increasingly alienated from the people around her, the unnamed narrator flees to Berlin, where she experiences dating apps, expat meetups, open-plan offices and bureaucratic waiting rooms. Along the way, she’s confronted by delusions, gaslighting and the confluence between fiction and reality in the internet age.
4. the incendiaries by R.o. kwon
Phoebe and Will meet their first month at college. Soon, Phoebe is drawn into a secretive religious extremist cult. When the group bombs several buildings, Phoebe disappears and Will devotes himself to finding her.
5. Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill
Offill’s suspenseful love story is a portrait of a marriage, as well as a rumination on the mysteries of life: intimacy, trust, faith, knowledge and more. The novel’s protagonist, “the wife,” confronts the usual catastrophes—a colicky baby, a faltering marriage, stalled ambitions—with an analytical nature that nods to both Keats and Kafka.
6. The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan
When she graduated magna cum laude from Yale in May 2012, Keegan had a promising literary career ahead of her and a job waiting at The New Yorker. Tragically, five days after graduation, Marina died in a car crash. This posthumous collection of essays and stories articulates the struggle we face as we figure out what we want to be and how we can harness our talents to make an impact on the world.
7. with teeth by kristen arnett
Sammie is afraid of her son, Samson, who resists her every attempt to bond with him. Uncertain about how she feels about motherhood, she tries her best while growing increasingly resentful of Monika, her confident but absent wife. As Samson grows from feral toddler to surly teenager, Sammie's life begins to deteriorate into a mess of unruly behavior, and her struggle to create a picture-perfect queer family unravels.
8. Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
The late, great actress and writer Carrie Fisher adapted this, her only memoir, from her smash-hit one-woman show and it's nothing short of wonderful. From growing up with famous parents and achieving massive success at the age of 19 to struggles with mental health and near constant relationship drama, Fisher is candid and hilarious. (And it really makes you wish she could've been around for a little longer.)
9. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
This daring novel about a woman trapped in a marriage essentially ended Chopin’s career and was the last thing she published before her death in 1904. Still, it has become a landmark work for its frank commentary on the psychology of infidelity and honest depictions of female sexual desire. Though it certainly won’t shock you the way it shocked readers in the early 20th century, you’ll definitely appreciate Chopin’s willingness to cover territory previously uncharted…especially by a woman. *Faux gasp*
10. BAD FAT BLACK GIRL: NOTES FROM A TRAP FEMINIST BY SESALI BOWEN
In this witty memoir, entertainment journalist Bowen reflects on growing up on the south side of Chicago while navigating Blackness, queerness, poverty, sex work, self-love and more. Combining personal essay and cultural commentary, Bowen presents a searing interrogation of sexism, fatphobia and capitalism within the context of race and hip-hop.
11. normal people by sally rooney
Rooney's second novel (after 2017’s Conversations with Friends) is about Connell and Marianne, classmates in a small Irish town, where Connell is popular and Marianne is essentially friendless. Despite their differences, they form an unlikely couple. They eventually enroll at the same college, where their roles are flipped and suddenly Marianne's the cool one. They date, break up and make up—a few times over—in a will-they-won’t-they relationship that will keep you hooked to the last page.
12. on earth we're briefly gorgeous by ocean vuong
Poet Ocean Vuong’s debut novel is written as a letter from a son, Little Dog, to his mother, who can’t read. The letter unearths the family’s history, and is simultaneously a story about the fraught yet undeniable love between a single mother and her son and a broader exploration of race, class, and masculinity.
13. Of Love and Other Demons by GABRIEL GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ
The Colombian writer is best known for his masterful One Hundred Years of Solitude, but if you’re looking for a briefer intro to García Márquez’s world of magical realism, pick up this slim volume about Sierva Maria, the only child of a noble family in an 18th-century South American seaport. When she’s bitten by a rabid dog and believed to be possessed, she is brought to a convent for observation, where things get even stranger.
15. i hope this finds you well: poems by kate baer
This latest collection of poems by Baer (What Kind of Woman) was born out of notes she's received from followers, supporters and detractors. From advice and opinions from strangers to outright harassment, Baer decided to transform the cruelty into art. By subverting the harsh negativity and hate women often receive—and combining it with heartwarming messages of support—Baer shows the reader how we too can turn bitterness into beauty.
16. ghosts by dolly alderton
The newest book from Alderton (Everything I Know About Love) is about Nina, a woman who is happily single, owns her apartment, is about to publish her second book and has tons of friends. When she downloads a dating app just to see what’s out there, she meets a great guy, Max, on her first date. But when Max ghosts her, Nina is forced to deal with everything she's been trying so hard to ignore, from her father's Alzheimer's to her editor’s hatred for her new book idea.
17. a slow fire burning by paula hawkins
Calling all thriller fans: Hawkins (The Girl on the Train) is back with another page-turner, this time about a young man found gruesomely murdered in a London houseboat and three women who are connected to the victim: Laura, the troubled one-night-stand last seen in the victim's home, Carla, his grief-stricken aunt and Miriam, the nosy neighbor clearly keeping secrets from the police. Expect twists, turns and, yes, murder.
18. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
In just 209 pages, Nigerian-born Achebe crafted a powerful account of precolonial African life. Told through the fictional experiences of Okonkwo, a wealthy and fearless Igbo warrior in the late 1800s, this 1994 novel explores a man’s futile resistance to the devaluing of his Igbo traditions by British forces, and his despair as his community surrenders to the new order.
19. you can't touch my hair by phoebe robinson
Proof you can be funny and inspiring. Robinson discusses serious issues like institutionalized racism and misogyny along with lighter ones like being U2’s biggest fan and her Magic Mike movie obsession.
20. trick mirror: reflections on self-delusion by jia tolentino
One way to get reading done during busy times? Grab a book that’s broken up into shorter sections. One of your best bets is New Yorker culture writer Jia Tolentino’s debut essay collection. Tolentino has often been called her generation’s Joan Didion and the likeness is spot-on.
21. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
This winner of the 2015 National Book Award for Nonfiction is written as a letter to Coates’s teen son and explores the sometimes bleak reality of what it’s like to be black in the United States. It’s a must-read for young people as well as anyone who could use a reminder of the subtle—and not so subtle—ways people of color are discriminated against every day (read: most people).
22. 100 THINGS WE’VE LOST TO THE INTERNET BY PAMELA PAUL
Love it or hate it, the internet has changed, well, everything. In this incisive glimpse into the pre-internet world, New York Times Book Review editor Paul reminds us of the ways—big and small—that our lives have changed. Think little things like postcards, an adolescence largely spared of documentation and genuine surprises at high school reunions and larger ones like weaker memories, the inability to entertain ourselves and the absence of privacy.
23. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
Lahiri’s first novel (after her Pulitzer-winning story collection, Interpreter of Maladies) follows the Ganguli family from Calcutta to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where they attempt—with varying degrees of success—to assimilate to American culture while holding on to their roots. You can read this one quickly, but the story will stay with you for way longer.
24. The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy
First published in 1958, Dundy’s cult classic details the exploits of a young Missouri native who moves to Paris. There have been countless coming-of-age stories since (maybe too many), but Dundy’s iteration is impossibly charming without being too far removed from the struggles of young adulthood. It’s the best lazy-day-at-home reading.
25. All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg
Andrea is 39 years old, single and child-free. She has a great job in advertising, cool friends and a close family. So what’s the problem? It’s not that she wants the whole husband and kids thing, she just doesn’t want to feel like an outcast for not having them. Above all, she’s real: This is a no-frills protagonist you’ll feel you’ve known forever.
26. Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen by Marilyn Chin
Under the watchful eye of their dominating grandmother, the twin sisters in this short story collection try desperately to become somebodies as they work as delivery girls, encountering constant challenges and threats to their heritage along the way.
27. Miss Lonelyhearts by Nathanael West
Set in New York City during the Great Depression, West’s 1933 book is a super quick, darkly comedic read. Here, the titular Miss Lonelyhearts is an unnamed male advice columnist who is regarded as a joke by the entire staff of the newspaper where he works. Boozing and philandering ensue.