I’ve always loved short books, but recently bookish.cori on Instagram has gotten me reenergized about bite-sized reads. It’s such a perfect descriptor for a particular kind of book: not just short books, but books you can gobble up in one sitting. Settling down to read a book and not coming up for air until it’s done is such a satisfying feeling.
There are so many scenarios that call for bite-sized books. Maybe you’re looking for a quick dose of comfort in book form. Maybe you need an hour of really good escapism. Maybe you’re up for a challenge but only have one free afternoon. Maybe you’re looking for the perfect book to help you through a breakup or a move, or maybe you want to try a new genre but aren’t ready to commit to A Reading Project.
Whatever situation you find yourself in, there’s a bite-sized book for you! These are a few of my recent favorites, books I’ve devoured in an hour or two. Because it’s me, I made them all queer. They’re all under 200 pages, with one exception (I promise it’s still bite-sized). Beyond that, they don’t have much in common. I included nonfiction and fiction and poetry, silly books and serious books, fantasy and contemplative literary novels.
The best thing about bite-sized books: if you want, you can add all of these to your TBR without too much overwhelm, because they’re all so fast to read!
If You’re Procrastinating and Need a Book you Won’t Be Able to Put Down
We Had to Remove This Post by Hanna Bervoets tr. by Emma Rault
Contemporary Fiction, 160 pages
I sat down to read this on a Sunday morning, thinking I’d alternate between it and a few other books. Nope. I did not stand up again until I’d finished it. It’s a brilliant, chilling book about the internet and social media and how they define our lives — but it’s worth going into it knowing nothing else about it. It only took a few hours to read but I’ll be thinking about it forever.
If You’re in the Middle of a Breakup
Finna by Nino Cipri
Speculative Fiction, 136 Pages
This is one of those books I recommend to everyone: it’s funny and silly and warm, guaranteed to make you laugh. It’s set in a vast furniture store modeled after IKEA, only this store is riddled with wormholes to other universes. When a shopper accidentally falls through one, two recently broken-up employees are sent in after her. As they adventure together through time and space, they both come to understand a little more about themselves, their relationship, and what they want.
If You’re Up for the Best Kind of Challenge
The Cancer Journals by Audre Lorde
Nonfiction, 96 pages
Audre Lorde packs an incredible amount of wisdom into this short book, a combination of essays, lectures, and journal entries. She writes about her experience with breast cancer as a Black lesbian feminist, the ways in which the medical industrial complex fails women, and the intersections of beauty, health, race, illness, and gender.
If You’re Overwhelmed, Outraged, and Grieving About the State of the World
Grievers by adrienne maree brown
Speculative Fiction, 204 pages
I read this book after an especially bad news week, and it felt like a balm, a release, and a call to action all rolled into one. A mysterious illness descends on Detroit — people are struck suddenly, in the middle of their daily lives, and become unresponsive. Dune, whose mother is the first patient, travels through the slowly emptying city, trying to make sense of the disease that’s destroying the home she loves. It’s a gorgeous meditation on what it means to grieve, and what happens when we don’t.
If You’re Dreading a Big Life Change
People Change by Vivek Shraya
Nonfiction, 112 pages
I hate change, and I know I’m not the only one. If you, too, get anxious thinking about change, this is the book for you. Shraya writes about change from a variety of angles, exploring her own transition and music career, celebrity comebacks, divorce, and more. She reflects on the possibilities present in even the scariest changes, and argues for celebrating change for its own sake, rather than trying to run from it.
If Your Slack Notifications Are Out of Control
Several People are Typing by Calvin Kasulke
Speculative Fiction, 256 pages
Don’t be fooled by the fact that this book is 256 pages — you can easily read it in one sitting. It’s written entirely in Slack messages, which means there’s often more white space than text on each page. The premise: an employee at an NYC PR firm accidentally uploads his conciousness into Slack and gets stuck there. Slackbot is a whole thing. There’s a lot of office drama. It’s very weird, definitely surreal, hilarious, surprisingly tender, and ultimately optimistic.
If You Need a Dose of Queer Joy
Cheer Up by Crystal Frasier and Val Wise
Graphic fiction, 128 pages
If you’re feeling down, this burst of queer joy is the ultimate pick-me-up in graphic novel form. I actually did a little dance when I finished reading it. It’s a heartfelt love story between a trans cheerleader and a prickly lesbian who joins the cheer team in order to make friends and have some extracurriculars for her college applications. Yes, there’s some serious stuff in this. But also banter! First love! Friendship! A grumpy lesbian! It’s perfect.
If You’ve Always Wanted to Try Poetry but Feel Hesitant About It
Nature Poem by Tommy Pico
Poetry, 78 pages
This might not be the easiest poem to read, but I think it’s a great one to start with if you’re hesitant about poetry because it’s so fun and irreverent and witty and creative. Pico writes in one long stream of consciousness about being Indigenous and living in the city, about dating, hookups, and queer culture, about nature and making art and history. It’s full of pain and wisdom — it’s not fluffy — but it also doesn’t always take itself seriously. It’s the opposite of stuffy.
If You’re Sick of Living in the City (or Wish You Lived in a Small Town)
Small Beauty by jia qing wilson-yang
Contemporary Fiction, 160 pages
This is a gorgeous, contemplative book about Mei, a Chinese Canadian trans woman who returns to the small town where she grew up after her cousin dies. She spends a year living in his old house, grieving, remembering, and visiting with old friends and family. I’m still in awe of all the layers in this novel; it’s a short book that feels like it’s four times as long. The characters and setting are so strikingly real.
If You Just Moved to a New Place
After the Dragons by Cynthia Zhang
Fantasy, 160 pages
This is a lovely, quiet fantasy set in a near-future Beijing ravaged by climate change. A mysterious new disease has become common among the humans, while the city’s dragon population is slowly dying out due to prolonged drought. Kai is a college student who takes care of abandoned dragons when he can. He falls for Elijah, an American medical researcher who came to Beijing hoping to learn more about his deceased grandmother. It’s a tender romance set in a vividly described world.
Looking for more great books you can read in one sitting? Check out these must-read short books and these short, fast-paced books. And if it’s more queer short books you’re hankering for, you can’t go wrong with queer short story collections!