The GBSP Bookshelf: Short Reads for the Short Month of February

February is a short month, and fewer days means less time to reach your reading goals. We at GBHQ are all about savoring books that you can’t let go of, and devouring books when you can’t wait to know what’s next, but we also know sometimes you just have to read quickly. Here are recommendations to swiftly carry you through the next 28 days.

OceanAtEndLandThe Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Clocking in at 181 pages, this short novel started as a short story, and reads like one. It’s about a man returning home and dredging up a dark, fantastical past that is perfectly Gaiman-esque. (Find Heather a book list category, she will find you a Gaiman book that fits it.)

The Symposium by Plato

Craving some philosophy during this short month? Look no further than The Symposium, one of Plato’s shorter reports of Socrates’ philosophical dialogues. The seven scholars in The Symposium each deliver a speech on the genesis and nature of Eros, or Love—an excellent primer for Valentine’s Day.

Passing by Nella LarsenPassing

Though only 102 pages in length, Passing is a novel of incredible beauty and remarkable depth. It chronicles the reunion of two mixed-race women, childhood best friends Clare and Irene, in Harlem in the 1920s. The central theme—and central tragedy—of this short novel centers around Clare’s passing as a white woman in order to marry her white husband, Jack. Nella Larsen is worth reading all year long, and is especially relevant in February during Black History Month.


Can’t and Won’t: Short Stories by Lydia Davis

Lydia Davis’s most recent collection of work is critically acclaimed for its poetic ability to tell beautiful, complicated stories in very few words. Many of the pieces in this collection might be considered Flash Fiction, which focuses on conveying narrative in as few words as possible. Flash fiction is an extreme way to get your reading done quickly this month, and Can’t and Won’t is a gorgeous place to start.

Murakami-Strange-LibraryThe Strange Library by Haruki Murakami

Graphic novels are a great go-to when your reading time is compressed. Because words share space with pictures, there is less to read, and meaning is usually conveyed in more ways than one. This is certainly true of Murakami’s 96-page masterpiece about a young boy who is locked in a library and forced to memorize the books he wishes to learn from. Unfortunately, he soon learns there will be consequences to such book learning. We at GBHQ are huge fans of Murakami’s lovely strangeness, and—of course—even bigger fans of books about books.

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