Short reads for breaks between readings

Five books for busses, breaks and everything in-between

Every reader in university knows the disappointment of putting off pleasure reading because of their schedule.

If you’re like me, you’ve made several New Year’s resolutions over the years to read more books. Yet come the following January, your bookshelf is just as bare. 

University students juggling coursework, jobs and social lives often find it hard to read anything that isn’t a textbook or a menu. Fear not — there are plenty of classic books under 200 pages that can easily fit in your backpack — and schedule. 

These books vary in style and substance, but are all perfect for a light read on a West Campus bus commute or in between classes.

If Only They Could Talk by James Herriot

Animal lovers will be charmed by this collection of true stories written by a veterinary surgeon living in England’s picturesque Yorkshire Dales. Herriot’s memoir showcases the deep connections between humans and their animal companions. This book is the perfect escapist read for anyone else who once loudly proclaimed their dream of becoming a vet when they grew up.

A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

Arthur Conan Doyle’s original Sherlock Holmes novels served as inspiration for the BBC Sherlock series as well as nearly every modern mystery story. These gripping reads have aged incredibly well in the 130 years since their publication dates. A Study in Scarlet, the first installment of the series, is a tight novella that introduces readers to characters Sherlock Holmes, Dr. John Watson and the Victorian-era London in which they reside. The case is a whodunit puzzle, involving Mormons, cabbies and strange rings that will surely keep you on the edge of your seat.

A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor

The 10 stories that make up this collection are short and strange, painting a picture of roadside murderers, Catholic guilt and the dark edges of well-mannered Southern society. O’Connor’s prose is unique and instantly recognizable. This short story collection is a staple of the Southern Gothic literary tradition that includes Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams.

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

Fun Home tells the story of Alison Bechdel, a young woman who learns more about her father’s hidden life after his suicide. It’s a graphic novel, but don’t expect a fluffy action comic. Bechdel’s illustrated memoir is heart-wrenching and deeply personal. It’s a fascinating examination of sexual orientation, family, mental illness and self-discovery. 

The Ocean at The End of The Lane by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman is probably best known for his landmark novel, American Gods—now a popular television show. But he has also created a deep body of work that similarly combines elements of urban fantasy and surrealism while raising complex questions about our everyday lives. The Ocean at the End of the Lane tells the story of a middle-aged man’s homecoming and the darker elements at play in his small English hometown.

All of these books combine humor, tight plotting and gripping subject matter to create easy reads that won’t make you fail your midterms. They’re somewhere to start if you’re looking to increase your pleasure reading as a university student and make you aware of some shorter books that pack the same punch as your lengthy favourites.



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