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10 Short Reads for the Shortest Month of the Year

by  | February 18
10 Short Reads for the Shortest Month of the Year

Where did February go? It always feels like this month flies by, which is unsurprising given that it’s the shortest month of the year. With the days rushing past, it feels like we’re running out of time to get any reading in. Thankfully, there are lots of short reads out there that you can power through to keep up with reading challenges, or just your desire to get a good book in before March starts. Here are 10 books, all under 250 pages, that you can read before the shortest month is through.

(And if you’re looking for new fiction, we’ve got you covered!)

Elevation

Elevation

by Stephen King

Page count: 160 pages

King is known for producing massive tomes, like IT or The Stand, but he’s also fond of short stories and novellas. Elevation follows lawyer Scott Carey, a resident of the infamous town of Castle Rock and a man who is losing weight steadily, then alarmingly, while otherwise looking exactly the same. But it is when Carey confronts, and later defends, his married lesbian neighbors that the story reveals its center. Less horror and more hope, King delivers a story for a divided time that asks if there is not some way that we can find the common humanity in each other.

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Gmorning, Gnight!

Gmorning, Gnight!

by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Page count: 207 pages

Sometimes you need a little pep talk to get you through the day, or to send you off to dreams of a better tomorrow. And no one provides concise words of wisdom quite like musical genius and epitome of sunshine Lin-Manuel Miranda. This book is a collection of his tweets that greet his followers every morning and night, mostly words of wisdom, encouragement, and a little fun. The accompanying endearing illustrations by Jonny Sun complete the quietly cute feel of this short read. A great one to pick up if you’re feeling the mid-winter slog.

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You Know You Want This

You Know You Want This

by Kristen Roupenian

Page count: 225 pages

Many readers might be familiar with the viral “Cat Person” story that Roupenian published in the New Yorker, one that sparked tons of discussions about dating, consent, and male rejection. Now there’s a whole collection of stories from this up-and-coming author that teeter right on the edge of being uncomfortable but are always insightful. Some stories you won’t soon forget—including the ones where a couple becomes obsessed with a friend watching them be intimate; a little girl uses her birthday wish for “something mean;” and a woman finds a particular library book that gives her what she’s really looking for. Sneak a few of these stories in during your lunch break or in between classes on these cold winter days.

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We Have Always Lived in the Castle

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

by Shirley Jackson

Page count: 146 pages

If you were one of the people who discovered the magic spookiness that is Shirley Jackson’s prose through The Haunting of Hill House (or its Netflix adaptation), then you might be craving some more of those gothic vibes. Thankfully, there’s a lot of great stories by this hero of horror, including this short novella about a family that keeps hidden away in the house after a grisly murder. However, there’s something dark afoot when a new member of the family comes to stay, and everyone becomes on edge. Jackson marries our fears of what lurks in the dark with our mistrust of others, even those who know us best. It’s certain to send chills down your spine, despite its brevity.

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The Incendiaries

The Incendiaries

by R. O. Kwon

Page count: 224 pages

Sometimes the search for meaning can take us to some seriously dark places. R. O. Kwon’s beautifully written book looks at two college students as they struggle with their faith. One joins a violent cult before disappearing, while the other struggles to stay afloat while looking for his missing girlfriend. Playing with perspective and drawing on real-life issues, The Incendiaries creates a narrative of love, loss, and violence that makes us question what we would do in the name of our beliefs.

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Looker

Looker

by Laura Sims

Page count: 192 pages

If you love a good Hitchcock film, you’re going to be obsessed with Looker. The novel follows an unnamed narrator who becomes entranced by a beautiful actress who seems to have it all, including a house on her block. Our narrator, on the other hand, is a hot mess with a job she hates and dwindling self-esteem. However, as the narrator becomes more and more preoccupied with her neighbor, we see something dark and twisted emerge. With allusions to famous poets, and some pretty dark fantasies mixed in, this thriller is satisfying in how it quickly spirals and resolves, making it a perfect short read.

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Another Brooklyn

Another Brooklyn

by Jacqueline Woodson

Page count: 192 pages

Nostalgia can tint our memories rose-colored, with even the darkest of times seemingly illuminated by it. As August comes to find, however, memories can create tension between the past and present, as she remembers growing up in Brooklyn with her three best friends. As these teens navigate coming of age, love, and pain, Woodson’s gorgeous language paints a vivid picture of what it’s like to be young, and also provides a look into being Black in 1970s New York. This short, sweet novel will have you reflecting on how your memories have shaped you, and ask you to go back to where you come from.

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Pretend I'm Dead

Pretend I'm Dead

by Jen Beagin

Page count: 240 pages

February’s cloudy skies and slushy weather can put even the cheeriest of us in a funk. Take a literary trip to sunny New Mexico, where Beagin’s less-than-sunny protagonist, Mona, gives us a brutal but funny look at her life as a cleaner. With a broken heart and sardonic wit, Mona encounters some strange characters during her work—which give her insights into the world—as well as crafts stories within the novel, which make for an enthralling and layered read. A must get for those who lean on the darker edges of quirky or who are looking for a personal journey with Hunter S. Thompson flair.

BONUS: After finishing Pretend I’m Dead, read Jen Beagin’s follow-up Vacuum in the Dark!

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Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

by Lee Israel

Page count: 144 pages

Desperate times call for desperate measures. And for author Lee Israel, desperate measures meant forging letters and other documents of famous authors after her writing career ended. Israel’s memoir details how she forged an estimated 400 documents from a number of famous authors, replaced authentic documents from archives and libraries with forgeries, and then sold both in order to make a profit. The book fascinatingly details how she goes through the process of each forgery, showcasing the skill with which she uses the voices of other authors to add intrigue, and value, to the letters. You can read it as a desperate woman’s attempt to keep afloat, or as the tale of a writer looking to game the system—and both make for an engaging read. Additionally, the book is short enough so that you can definitely finish it by the time the film version comes out on streaming services.

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The Dark Between Stars

The Dark Between Stars

by Atticus

Page count: 240 pages

A good book of poetry can inspire you, pulling together words and sentiments in a way you never thought to do. Poet and social media influencer Atticus does just that with his latest poetry collection. Focusing on the dualities of our lived experiences, he looks at love, relationships, and loneliness in carefully crafted poems about dancing, Paris, and rainy days. The perfect read for those thinking about love and connection during February, or just on a hunt for a spark to light the night.

If you’re inspired to read even more poetry, check out “Modern Poets You Need to Read!”

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A reporter by trade, Sara Roncero-Menendez is a lover of horror, sci-fi, and all things pop culture. From indies to classics to even the strangest genre pieces, all movies, TV shows, and books are fair game for a binge-fest. Follow her on Twitter @sararomenen or at her website, www.sara-roncero-menendez.com