Last week I suggested that reading shorter works could kickstart a reading habit stalled due to short attention span. But maybe you’re a reader who wants a loooooong read. Short novellas have fast pay off, but the reader does have to do the work of getting into the world created by the author. A long book lets you do that feat of imagination once and then reap the benefits for hundreds of pages. If you want to get lost in a long story, here are a few doorstops to immerse yourself in.
Vagabonds by Jingfang Hao – 100 years after Mars gains its independence from Earth, they send a group of Martian students to Earth, essentially as exchange students. Five years later those students return to Mars, and grapple with dissatisfaction over their return and questions as to why they were sent. Continue reading “Make It Long”
How are our attention spans these days? I had a project to keep me reading last year, but in 2021 I have lost my reading focus. To try to get back in the groove I’ve been turning to novellas, short works that tell a complete story in less than 200 pages. I’m hoping the momentum of finishing a few of those will launch me back into regular reading – maybe it will for you, too.
The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo – In this fable-like story, young novice Chih and their bird companion are the first inside a remote compound following the death of the Empress of Salt and Fortune. With the aid of an old woman named Rabbit, Chih sifts through the items left behind and discovers the true story of the Empress. Continue reading “Keep It Short”
Each year, groups of librarians from across the country hole up in a room (this year, a virtual room) to discuss and select the best books from the year before. The Notable Books List features literary fiction, nonfiction, and poetry; the Listen List is all about outstanding audiobooks; and The Reading List, which I want to tell you about today, highlights outstanding genre fiction in eight genres: Adrenaline (aka thrillers, adventure stories), Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Relationship Fiction, Romance, and Science Fiction.
While each genre has a winner, it also has a four-title shortlist of runners up. Taken together, the five books in each genre represent a range of the types of stories a reader can find in that genre, with the idea that both longtime fans and folks new to the genre can find a title of interest. If you are looking to branch out into new areas of fiction reading, it is a great place to start. Check out the 2021 winners (for books published in 2020) below, with annotations from the ALA Reading List Council, or in our catalog.
When the library closed for the pandemic on March 13th and I contemplated the altered days ahead, I had a revelation. I decided that I would tackle a goal I had long held–to read more short stories.
Every year I feel hard pressed to read enough of the newly-published fiction and nonfiction to feel grounded in my work as a readers’ advisor. Not to mention all of the older books I also keep meaning to get to, or that I hear about from colleagues and patrons. I used to think that I didn’t have time for short stories or that I preferred novels. Where did that idea come from?
Yes, short stories can slow you down. You have to make space for the world a short story creates, and each story, even in one collection or anthology, has a different pace, tone, cadence, and perspective that you are thrown into. Short stories are the gems of literature–they can be rough cut or burnished, but each story offers a prism through which you will discover a new voice, perspective, or world. When I thought that I did not like short stories or did not have time for them I was wrong, and I was missing out. Continue reading “Lessons learned from reading a short story a day”