Best Short Reads |
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Whether you’re looking for a quick read to keep you entertained through your morning commute, or want a book you can whizz through in a weekend, we’ve gathered a list of the best story collections and short novels for a quick literature fix.

The Passion by Jeanette Winterson, £8.99 | Waterstones

Winterson’s short novel is ostensibly set in the Napoleonic Wars of the early 19th Century, although considerable liberties are taken with the historical setting that play with time and place to take The Passion far beyond period fiction. This is a story about gender, sensuality and the power of desire.  

Dept. Of Speculation by Jenny Offill, £12.99 | Amazon

A consideration of the mysteries of intimacy, trust, and chaos of married life – in which Offill’s heroine is known only as “the wife”. The tender writing is made all the more vivid by the depth of learning and intelligence just beneath the surface, elucidated by references to everyone from Keats to Russian cosmonauts. This story is driven by longing, rage and wit.

Glaciers by Alexis M.Smith, £17.94 | Amazon

Glaciers follows twenty-something thrift store shopper Isabel through a day of her life – repairing damaged books, gathering trinkets and flirting with the former soldier who comes to fix her computer… all set against a stunning but withering Alaskan landscape as the glaciers of Isabel’s childhood recede into nothingness.

Goodnight Beautiful Women by Anna Noyes, £9.35 | Amazon

Flitting across New England, USA, this group of intertwining stories brings us into the sultry, mysterious inner lives of the region’s women and girls as they navigate the dangers and struggles of growing up. 

If You’re Not Yet Like Me by Edan Lepucki, £9.03 | Amazon

Snarky and insecure Joellyn tells her unborn daughter the story of her courtship with an unemployed man named Zachary. A barbed, perverse and grimly hilarious piece of work, If You’re Not Yet Like Me is the ultimate anti-love story. 

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn, £2 | Amazon

Following Gone Girl, which catapulted Flynn to international fame and led to a blockbuster Hollywood movie, The Grownup is a slippery tale of dark corners with all the thrills of her most celebrated work mixed with the enthralling, timeless trappings of gothic horror.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid, £8.99 | Waterstones

Having cast off his Pakistani roots for a Princeton education and high-flying role business role in New York, Changez looks at last set to clasp the American dream. That all changes when the World Trade Centre is attacked and Changez is shocked to feel a spark of gladness in seeing a symbol of American domination and wealth torn from the sky. Hamid’s keen observational prose shines in this complex portrait of self-realisation and cultural isolation.

The Sense Of An Ending by Julian Barnes, £8.99 | Waterstones

This book presents a rare opportunity to zip through a Man Booker Prize winner in the space of a day. A retired man named Tony Webster reflects on his childhood and the divergent paths taken by those who pledged to be friends forever, resulting in a poignant and beautiful testament to the ever-changing nature of life.

Very Good Lives by J K Rowling, £9.99 | Waterstones

In 2008, J. K. Rowling delivered a deeply affecting commencement speech at Harvard University, which has now been published in book form. Rowling draws on personal experience to deliver answers to the profound questions facing anyone at a turning point in life: how can we embrace failure and how can we use our imagination to create a better life for ourselves and others?

What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi, £5.99 (was 7.99) | Waterstones

This playful and ambitious collection of short stories is built around the theme of keys: keys to the houses, hearts and secrets of Oyeyemi’s compelling characters. Ranging effortlessly from vivid fantasies to fables, these stories defy expectations and conventions to keep you rapt.

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