I love a good tome, but many of my favourite novels are sharpened little gems. It’s immensely satisfying to finish a book in a single day or two. In this post, we have an eclectic mix of strange horror, a charming short story collection, a twisty thriller, lyrical historical fiction, tear-jerking YA, and quirky contemporary Japanese fiction. So, without further ado, here are six fiction books you can read in a day.
Frying Plantain by Zalika Reid-Benta
Length: 272 pages
Frying Plantain is a vibrant collection of twelve interrelated short stories about a Jamaican-Canadian girl coming of age in Toronto. It explores how, in one charged moment, friendship and love can turn to enmity and hate, well-meaning protection can become control, and teasing play can turn to something much darker. In her brilliantly incisive debut, Zalika Reid-Benta artfully depicts the tensions between mothers and daughters, second-generation Canadians and first-generation cultural expectations, and Black identity and predominately white
Each progressive glimpse into Kara’s life is touching, poignant, and I blissfully read the entire collection in one sitting. Reid-Benta grapples with cultural and class differences between neighbourhoods in Toronto. I was most moved by her nuanced depictions of how Kara and her friends—all from this melting-pot neighbourhood of Caribbean culture—clashed with each other over who was the “most authentic” in their group. And yet, although we see Kara grapple with a split cultural identity and shouldering the impossibly high expectations of her Jamaican mother and grandmother, there was still something so beautifully universal in this collection. I can’t wait to read more work from this author.
Verity by Colleen Hoover
Length: 333 pages
Verity is a clever, meandering maze of a story in which struggling writer, Lowen Ashleigh, is on the brink of financial ruin and is employed by Jeremy Crawford to complete the remaining books in a successful series that his injured wife, Verity, is unable to finish. While sorting through Verity’s chaotic office, Lowen stumbles upon an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity’s recollection of what really happened the day her daughter died…
Morally-questionable characters, a disturbing manuscript, a shop full of plot twists, I thought this was excellent. Never have I ever flew through a book and felt so many emotions in a short space of time. Happiness, disgust, shock, sadness; you name it, I felt it. Hoover expertly leads us on a winding trail of lies and manipulation and left me questioning everything. If you’re looking for your next favourite mystery or thriller, look no further. This was uttering enthralling and one you can easily read in a day.
The Revolt by Clara Dupont-Monod
Ruth Diver (translation)
Length: 208 pages
Richard Lionheart tells the story of his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine. In 1173, she and three of her sons instigate a rebellion to overthrow the English king, her husband Henry Plantagenet. What prompts this revolt? How does a great queen persuade her children to rise up against their father? And how does a son cope with this crushing conflict of loyalties
Replete with poetry and cruelty, this story takes us to the heart of the relationship between a mother and her favourite son – two individuals sustained by literature, unspoken love, honour and terrible violence.
The Revolt brims with lovely and lyrical writing, and Clara Dupont-Monod infuses the historical tale with a touch of modernity to tell an engaging fictional narrative. Ruth Diver’s translation is also exquisite from cover to cover, bestowing the reader with some of the most beautiful metaphors and imagery you’ll have read this year. With richly detailed characters, clever manipulation of language, and boldly feminist themes, The Revolt is a pleasure from beginning to end.
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Length: 237 pages
Conor has the same dream every night, ever since his mother first fell ill, ever since she started the treatments that don’t quite seem to be working. But tonight is different. Tonight, when he wakes, there’s a visitor at his window. It’s ancient, elemental, a force of nature. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth. Ness captures the emotions which others struggle to articulate and does so with wonderful lyrical quality.
This book grapples with a delicate subject, yet it has a poignant beauty that transmutes the darkness into something palatable for the reader. A powerful message lies within a tiny book. I went into A Monster Calls not knowing too many plot details and I think you should too. Just be prepared to cry, a lot.
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
Ginny Tapley Takemori (translations)
Lenth: 176 pages
Convenience Store Woman is a quick, quirky, and satirical story about one woman’s life working at a convenience store. Keiko takes the job while at university in an attempt to calm her parents’ worries and fit in with the world around her. However, 18 years later, she is still there. She is deemed as a misfit and socially inept, but Keiko, meanwhile, is perfectly content and relishes the job’s routine. The convenience store has become her life, to the point that she mimics the mannerisms of her co-workers to appear ‘normal’ and the sounds of the workplace infiltrate her dreams.
This short book serves as a powerful social commentary on conformist culture and captures Japanese society’s strict gender norms. Sayaka Murata brilliantly captures the atmosphere of the familiar convenience store that is so much part of life in Japan. With some laugh-out-loud moments prompted by the disconnect between Keiko’s thoughts and those of the people around her, she provides a sharp look at Japanese society and the pressure to conform, as well as penetrating insights into the female mind.
Bunny by Mona Awad
Length: 307 pages
Bunny introduces us to graduate student Samantha who is suffering from some severe writer’s block. Being from a poor background, she doesn’t fit in with her fellow rich-girl workshop partners who call each other by the pet name ‘Bunny’. On the periphery of these toffee-nosed girls, she finds their excessive enthusiasm and sycophantic compliments of one another’s work nauseating. Yet, there is something about their mini-cupcakes and the sparkling world that draws her in. What she discovers when invited into their inner circle happens to be the very opposite…
Awad has created a dark, wicked tale. Rather than girly, gossiping sleepovers, these girls are gathering for some casual, light murder. Samantha’s imaginative mind often trails off to visceral and gross realms – described as ‘angry’, and ‘mean’ by the Bunnies – while suffering the extremities of loneliness and obsession. It’s by no means for the faint of heart. The whimsical characters and unexpected plot twists also emanate a fairy-tale quality, albeit a gruesome one. Overall, it was bonkers and you’ll be strangely compelled to read in a day.
What fiction books have you read in a day?
Read my previous post for 6 more fiction books you can read in a day