Believe it or not, it’s almost 2020! If you’re like us, you’re wondering—where did 2019 go? As we gear up to make some brand-new New Year’s resolutions, we can’t help but look back on last year’s list and see that we’re a few books short of meeting our reading goals for the year. With basically only one month left to go, it’s time to crack down and speed through a few final—but fantastic!—2019 reads. Needing to read books fast is no reason to sacrifice quality. Join us in whipping through a few of these last-minute reads that may be short in pages but not in complexity.
Page count: 160
Young Bess fills her days with hard farm labor after her father, Bellman, abandoned her to chase a myth that monstrous remains reside in western lands. Bess ignores her own female coming-of-age as she clings to the letters her father sends her that describe a wild frontier, heedless adventures, and the mindless desire to go ever further. Both epic and fable, Carys Davies’s WEST transposes the domestic against American self-delusions of grandeur.
Page count: 160
Scott Carey may not be the biggest fan of his neighbors—a lesbian couple whose dog’s favorite toilet is his front lawn—but he certainly doesn’t think they deserve the pushback they’ve gotten from their community since opening a new, local restaurant. As Scott grapples with his own mysterious condition that has him steadily and unstoppably losing weight, he must also face the prejudices buried deep inside himself and those around him in order to stand up for those he believes deserve it.
Page count: 115
In this short but powerful meditation on love and regret, master storyteller Gabriel García Márquez takes a look at the taboos of sexual relationships to determine what is most tender and human in us all. In a struggle against his on coming ninetieth birthday, one man hires a young, virgin prostitute for a final night of carnal exploits. But as he gets to know the 14-year-old girl he has bought, the exhaustion and loneliness of each of their lives brings him closer to her than he ever thought possible.
Page count: 110
Over the last 25+ years, Sandra Cisneros’s THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET has become a highly acclaimed coming-of-age staple tackling questions of girlhood, identity, and fragmented families. Esperanza Cordero is a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, telling and retelling her stories through a series of funny, poignant, and expansive vignettes. By turns joyous and rageful, Esperanza’s voice is sure to captivate readers of all ages with its heart and sincerity.
The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero. Told in a series of vignettes – sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous – it is the story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become.
Page count: 160
Desperate to escape the hometown where she accidentally killed her best friend in a drunken golf cart accident, Jo lets her mother enroll her in a private boarding school. While Jo thinks nothing worse than her past could be waiting for her around the bend, she soon becomes entangled in the emotional web of a popular professor. Haunting and timely, HIS FAVORITES tells the story of a man who builds his ego on the vulnerability of others and a girl struggling to separate what he taught her from who she is.
Page count: 192
In this provocative, slow-burn psychological thriller, a nameless narrator develops an obsession with her beautiful, successful neighbor. Where she has a handsome husband, dazzling apartment, and charming children, the narrator has a run-down apartment and her ex-husband’s cat. After a botched attempt to connect at the annual block party, the narrator loses herself in a destructive tailspin that will leave both households reeling. Razor-sharp and mesmerizing, LOOKER translates obsession into something undeniably real.
Page count: 192
Eden is finally on death’s door after years of serving as a marine and stockpiling dark secrets of his own. His wife, Mary, spends every day beside his hospital bed, waiting for him to recover, while his best friend, who died during their deployment, waits patiently for Eden to finally join him on the other side of life. Elliot Ackerman’s novel offers an emotionally raw and imaginatively drawn portrait of the complex web created between three people across time and space.
Page count: 176
A modern masterpiece, Jean Rhys’ last and most famous novel, WIDE SARGASSO SEA, returns to one of literature’s most infamous characters: the madwoman in the attic of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. Sold to a stranger, taken miles away from her home by land and sea, Antoinette Cosway is a vibrant, sheltered young girl who becomes enmeshed in the violent machinations of another person’s story and is consequently lost to time and empathy—until now.
Jean Rhys's reputation was made upon the publication of this novel, in which she focuses on one of fiction's most mysterious characters: the madwoman in the attic from Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre. Rhys portrays a society so driven by hatred, so skewed in its sexual relations, that it can literally drive a woman out of her mind.
Page count: 96
From the author of the beloved A MAN CALLED OVE comes another moving, insightful meditation on aging, loss, and the moments that mean the most to us. An elderly man struggles to hold on to all of his most precious memories as he approaches the end of his life. Meanwhile, his family clings to him in the present, wishing nothing more than to pull him back from the inevitable precipice of death.
Page count: 146
Master of horror Shirley Jackson’s most macabre and memorable novel brings the reader into the isolated and deviant Blackwood family home. Eighteen-year-old Merricat may seem just peculiar at first, but as this gothic, slow-burn progresses, and a distant cousin comes to stay with her estranged family, things may just turn murderous. A spellbinding, uncanny gothic tale, WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE simultaneously charms and terrifies its readers.