7 Novels You Can Knock Off in a Long Weekend

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Remember books?

Woman reading a book on her lap

So, you’ve got plans for the Easter long weekend – that is to say, you’ve got no real plans at all (apart from a whole lot of Netflix and chill). While we’re fans of a great doco – here’s our round up of the best ones to binge if you’re interested – we think it’s also important to unplug. The best way to spend your time in the interim? Something super old-fashioned you might have encountered before called reading books. Forgotten how to do it? Fling yourself into these small but mighty titles that won’t take longer than a long weekend, and you’ll soon pick it up again.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Shirley Jackson
Most who have read this classic written in 1962 devour it in two days or less – it’s kind of like how you felt listening to Serial except in, you know, book form. It’s unsettling, thrilling and mysterious, the definition of a page turner.

The Stranger, Albert Camus
As one of the most widely read French novels of the 20th century, we suspect the masses of people who’ve indulged in this existentialist classic can’t be wrong. The French-Algerian narrator of Mersault gets himself in trouble after the death of his mother, but it’s the writer’s philosophical stance as an absurdist that takes this novel, first published in 1942, into timeless territory.

The Passion, Janette Winterson
Only this writer could make the background of the Napoleonic war seem romantic. Following the relationship between French soldier Henri and Villanelle, the daughter of a Venetian boatman, you’ll be swept away with this carefully written tale, which The New York Times called “a deeply imagined and beautiful book”. Bonus points if you have your significant other read it aloud to you.

The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway
Admit it: you’ve been trying to find the time to squeeze in a classic like this since time began. A long weekend is the perfect opportunity – at under 130 pages (depending on the edition, of course), you can finally tick this off your classics list. Having gone an extended amount of time without a bite, Cuban fisherman Santiago is due to face his biggest battle yet – just him, the sea and a giant marlin off the coast of Florida. As the winner of the 1953 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, it’s a lot more than just a fisherman and a fish, but not much more, and that is Hemingway’s genius.

Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer
The best way to draw you back into reading? A thriller, or horror as The Guardian suggested, explaining that this book will make you “afraid to turn the page”. Let us at it, we say! The protagonist’s husband has just returned from Area X – an abandoned stretch of coastline, held under strict quarantine by a mysterious government agency called the Southern Reach – and is completely unlike himself. As the first of a trilogy, it’s enough to get you hooked (and ready for next weekend’s reading session).

The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes
It may be small but it will pack a punch emotionally. It follows retiree Tony Webster confronting his past and what follows is his journey through missed opportunities, regret and revelation. It’s also been turned into a film with the fabulously thoughtful Jim Broadbent, if you want to break your film-watching fast (only after reading its 168 pages, of course).

The Orange Eats Creeps, Grace Krilanovich
Hobo junkie vampires sound like perfect characters for weekend reading? We thought so. Although there are endless reviews that spout adoration for this book, you’ll have to bear with it – it’s not exactly straightforward. But the folks at NPR (the producers of all great podcasts) have said: “The book feels written in a fever; it is breathless, scary and like nothing I’ve ever read before. Krilanovich’s work will make you believe that new ways of storytelling are still emerging from the margins.” Reason enough for us.

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Jess

The Meursault Investigation would be a nice accompaniment after reading The Stranger.

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