Is it just me, or is reading a whole book in one sitting really satisfying? Don’t get me wrong, long books are great, and it’s perfectly fine to dip in and out of them over the course of days or weeks… but going cover-to-cover without ever having to stand up? That’s god-tier, right there. Here are ten books you can read in one sitting, so that self-satisfied feeling can be all yours.
I’m Thinking Of Ending Things by Iain Reid
I’m Thinking Of Ending Things is a road trip novel in the psychological thriller/horror vein. Most editions don’t have a blurb or anything else to hint at what the story’s about, so you truly go in blind. It begins with a nameless narrator and her boyfriend, Jake, in a car on their way to visit Jake’s parents for the first time. The narrator is thinking of ending things, but Jake doesn’t know that yet. I read it all in one sitting because I’m very sure I would have had nightmares if I’d tried to put it down and go to sleep, so I suppose it’s really a book you’re forced to read in one sitting. It’s spooky as all heck! Read my full review of I’m Thinking Of Ending Things here.
Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon
Weather Girl is one of the most delightful books you can read in one sitting: a charming, low-stakes romance that ticks all the boxes. Television weather reporter Ari Abrams teams up with the cute but reticent sports reporter, Russell, to get their bosses back together and fix the broken culture of their workplace. The plot is just the right level of ridiculous for a rom-com, the characters are well-developed and well-intentioned, and it has plenty of snort-laughs to offer. Best of all, though, were the steamy and – this is key – realistic sex scenes! Read my full review of Weather Girl here.
Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix
Grady Hendrix is the new(ish) king of horror-comedy, and Horrorstor is the best of his to start with if you’re looking for books you can read in one sitting. The book itself is gorgeous, designed to look like an IKEA catalogue, complete with an order form for a copyright page and product descriptions for chapter headers. The story is set in Orsk, a furniture superstore clearly (but not officially, not at all) based on the Swedish conglomerate. A group of employees find themselves roped into staying in the store overnight, to try and track down the vandals tearing the place up after everyone goes home. Here’s the thing, though: the store is haunted. As if a night at
IKEA Orsk wasn’t scary enough! Read my full review of Horrostor here.
Her Body And Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
Normally, short story collections lend themselves to being picked up and put down; there’s natural breaks in the “flow” that you don’t get with (most) novels. But that’s not the case with Her Body And Other Parties. Even though the eight stories are wildly different – ricocheting from magical realism to horror to science fiction to comedy to fantasy to epistolary – they blend together so well, you’ll down them all like a shot. The stories aren’t linked by character or plot or even style, but they all address similar themes: sex, death, queerness, vulnerability, women, and their bodies (as the title might suggest). Read my full review of Her Body And Other Parties here.
My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
As much as we all love a bit of mystery and intrigue, sometimes it’s nice to read a book with the premise laid out right up front. My Sister, The Serial Killer gives you exactly what it says on the tin: the story of Korede and her sister, Ayoola, who has the unfortunate habit of killing her boyfriends. The story unfolds in short, punchy chapters. The family backstory – abusive father, complex mother – is revealed incrementally, in a way that naturally parallels and informs the rollercoaster of the love triangle and the will-she-or-won’t-she (kill again). It’s delightfully readable, despite – or perhaps because of – the subject matter. Read my full review of My Sister, The Serial Killer here.
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
And Then There Were None is the world’s best-selling mystery, with over 100 million copies sold – and I’d bet a fair chunk of those books were read in one sitting. They don’t call her the Queen of Crime for nothing, folks, and this is Christie at her best! Ten strangers are lured to an isolated island mansion. On the first evening, while they’re all finishing up dinner, a recorded voice piped into the room by gramophone accuses them all of having a guilty secret. Specifically, each one of them has committed (or contributed to) a murder. By the time they’ve stopped reeling from the announcement, one of the guests is dead – and they won’t be the last. C’mon, are you telling me you won’t gobble down this story? Read my full review of And Then There Were None here.
Pizza Girl by Jean Kyoung Frazier
Pizza Girl is Jean Kyoung Frazier’s debut novel, a slim little tome that portends great things to come from the young American writer. Sure, it’s kind of easy to name such a short book as one of the books you can read in one sitting, but the characters in this particular book are captivating enough that it’d be a quick read at twice the length. The story revolves around an eighteen-year-old pregnant pizza delivery girl who becomes obsessed with the stay-at-home mother who phones in a desperate order. It might leave you wanting more – but all the best pizzas do! Read my full review of Pizza Girl here.
The Weekend by Charlotte Wood
I never run out of reasons to recommend The Weekend – it has everything going for it! It’s short and propulsive enough to read in one sitting, though you could just as easily space it out if you want to savour it. It features strong middle-aged female characters, an annoyingly underrepresented group – how often do you read a book about a woman over fifty who has a full and interesting life? It’s also set against the stunning backdrop of an Australian beach town, where a group of women are responsible for clearing up the holiday home of a late friend. Read my full review of The Weekend here.
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
Keiko has known since childhood that she was “different” from everybody else, but she learned early on that expressing herself in ways that feel natural to her does not go down well in her conservative and conformist culture. Everyone’s relieved when, aged 18, she takes a “normal” job in a convenience store (a konbini) – including Keiko. But eighteen years later, when Convenience Store Woman begins, the bit is starting to wear thin. Keiko is forced to take unprecedented steps to fool everyone into thinking she’s normal – but will it make her happy? This short, highly-readable book was translated into English from the original Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori. Read my full review of Convenience Store Woman here.
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
If you’re interested in classics, forget about Jane Eyre – pick up Wide Sargasso Sea instead, the adaptation you can definitely read in one sitting. It’s much shorter than the original, sure, but it packs one heck of a punch. Jean Rhys draws our attention to Bertha (whom she re-names Antoinette Cosway), the “madwoman in the attic” obstacle from Brontë’s classic tale. In Rhys’s hands, the crazed first wife becomes a three-dimensional character, a sensual young woman sold into marriage to a wealthy coloniser, and taken away from everything she’s ever known – enough to drive anyone mad, wouldn’t you think?
April 15, 2023 at 8:46 AM
The Weekend and Convenience Store Women sound interesting. The last Japanese book I read was The Travelling Cat Chronicles which was sad and humorous.
April 22, 2023 at 7:37 PM
Oooh I’ve heard that’s really good – I love a sad and humourous combo!
April 26, 2023 at 6:19 PM
“And then there were none”, good choice, only I cheat now and tend to hear it via audiobook.
Another candidate is “Messiah’s Handbook, Reminders for the Advanced Soul, The Lost Book From Illusions” by “Richard Bach” it’s so small it can comfortably fit in the breast pocket of a shirt.
Of course it would be a bonus to have read “Illusions, The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah” first for it to make proper sense. That might take an hour or two to get through but it is a great book.
April 28, 2023 at 11:37 PM
Reading the audiobook is hardly cheating Phil 😂 And thank you for the recommendation!!