Thanksgiving dinner is over and you're biding your time until a) you come out of your food coma, and b) can hit the mall and tackle someone who was eyeing the flat-screen you wanted. In the meantime, you could watch football or a Christmas movie, but we recommend a book. Start with one of these 13 titles that are short enough to read before the holiday weekend is over.
All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg (208 pages)
Andrea is 39 years old, single and child-free. She’s got 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: a no-frills protagonist whom you’ll feel you’ve known forever.
My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem (352 pages)
From her itinerant childhood to her career as a journalist and her first experience with activism, My Life on the Road is a fascinating account of the noted feminist’s incredible adventures up through the early 2010s. Read it before the film adaptation—starring Julianne Moore—comes out in 2018.
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri (291 pages)
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 onto their roots. You can read this one quickly, but the story will stay with you for way longer than a holiday weekend.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote (176 pages)
Yes, the movie is amazing, but Capote’s novella about the eccentric Holly Golightly is wistful, mesmerizing and lovely.
The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller (192 pages)
Waller’s first novel describes the profound love between a photographer and an Iowa farmer's wife, who, together for only four days, never lose their feelings for each other. Whether or not you’ve seen the movie, this one’s worth a (tear-jerking) read.
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (240 pages)
If you haven’t yet, it’s time to read the book you’ve been hearing about all year. Hamid’s tale of two people who fall in love—and are then forced to escape their country as it’s torn apart by violence—is lush, powerful and evocative. It’s both a timeless love story and a timely commentary on immigration.
Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill (192 pages)
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.
A Separation by Katie Kitamura (240 pages)
A young woman and her husband agree to separate—and to keep the news of the separation to themselves. Just as she begins her new life, she receives word that her ex has gone missing in Greece. She reluctantly goes to try to find him (though she’s not even sure if that’s the result she wants), and ends up discovering how little she knew about the man she shared her life with.
The After Party by Anton Disclafani (400 pages)
An entrancing woman and her lifelong best friend navigate life as wealthy women in 1950s Houston. Their relationship is fascinating, obsessive and decidedly unequal. As one’s scandalous lifestyle starts to get out of control, the other’s involvement throws a wrench into her own stable marriage.
Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo (272 pages)
Adebayo’s debut novel follows a young married couple in Nigeria as their relationship is torn apart by their inability to have a child. Told alternately from the husband’s and wife’s perspectives, Stay with Me is a heartbreaking meditation on love, betrayal, desperation and grief.
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie (288 pages)
After years of watching out for her younger siblings after their mother’s death, a young woman accepts an invitation to go to America to follow a long-buried dream. But she can’t stop worrying about her sister in London and their brother, who’s disappeared in pursuit of his own dream of carrying on the dark legacy of his jihadist father.
Money by Martin Amis (368 pages)
John Self is a commercial director who epitomizes the greed and lust of the 1980s. His misadventures and downward spiral would be depressing if Amis’s prose weren’t so darkly funny.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (80 pages)
Not much to say about this total quick-to-read classic other than than 'tis the season.