There are times in my reading life when commitment seems scary to me, when I look at a thick novel and am overcome with the anxiety of starting it and the fear of failing to finish it. It looks a little something like this:
When this happens, I have found that picking up a one-night stand at the library or book shop really helps to ease my apprehension about a longer-term commitment. I only have to devote myself to this book for one night; it won’t sit by my bedside for days or weeks, reminding me each time I lie down that I’m still not finished with it. Plus, if it’s not my favorite, I’m only obligated to it for a short period of time.
Here are a few of my recent one-night stands that are worth your while:
Warning: this book makes you feel things. It's a stunning and tragic graphic memoir about the author's daughter, Rosalie, who died unexpectedly at age two. The range of emotions that go along with the grieving process are portrayed with honesty and bravery in this book, making the work powerful and relatable. It's ideal to read in one evening because it's a tear-jerker, perfect for a night you can set aside for a short burst of emotion.
John Darnielle (lead singer of The Mountain Goats and author of Wolf in White Van) published this slim novella as a part of the 33 1/3 series, using Black Sabbath's Master of Reality as a musical backdrop to tell the narrator's story. Darnielle introduces readers to Black Sabbath's iconic album through the voice of a teenager being held in a psychiatric facility in 1985. The narrator, Roger Painter, describes the album with rich and passionate detail, in part because his Walkman has been taken away and he can no longer listen to it. You don't have to love the album to enjoy this work; Roger loves it enough for both of you. However, if you are a fan of the music, you'll likely love this book on an even deeper level.
This short novel takes the reader on a brief and bizarre journey with a boy who goes to the library to return his books and ends up being held captive by a librarian and guarded by a Sheep Man. If you haven't read Murakami before, this sounds outlandish; if you have read Murakami before, you'll notice that this sounds right on par. However, unlike his other works, The Strange Library incorporates a visual element to the story, making you feel even more like you've just survived a strange and jarring fever dream from inside Murakami's own twisted, exquisite, weirdo mind.