10 Books You Can (And Should) Read On Your Lunch Break

A woman reads a book as she relaxes in a park in central London during hot weather on September 7, 2012. Much of central and southern England have been experiencing hot weather this week with temperatures up to 25 degrees celsius with the warm spell expected to continue into the weekend. AFP PHOTO / CARL COURT (Photo credit should read CARL COURT/AFP/GettyImages)
Source: CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images

Even if you love your job, having to go to work day in and day out can occasionally feel a bit challenging. Between meetings, deadlines, and office politics the daily grind can start to feel as though it's living up to its name. And, in the midst of a busy day, it's easy to forget that your eyes, your mind, and your soul need to see beyond your lackluster cubicle. 

But, what's the best way to spend your precious lunch break? Thanks to science, there are myriad research-backed benefits to reading a book — from reducing stress to boosting memory to improving empathetic skills — most of which will even help you do your job better. So, take a break from responding to those emails (trust me, they'll be there when you get back) and grab a good, old-fashioned book to boost your midday morale.

These safe-for-work books are ideal for quick, light-hearted lunchtime reading. Just be sure to set an alarm before you get too carried away; otherwise, you'll be reading well into that 1 o'clock meeting. And, who knows, maybe your new lunchtime routine will inspire a coworker book club.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Use your lunch break to lighten up with a novel that's part comedy, part drama, part mystery, and 100 percent charming. When Bernadette abruptly goes missing, her precocious 15-year-old daughter, Bee, is determined to discover her whereabouts. In the process, Bee stumbles upon emails, letters, school memos, and even F.B.I documents, which not only add to the surprising plot (and hilarity), but also make for great stopping points when the time comes to eventually return to your desk.

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

Escape your mundane tasks with a bestselling comedy that is so side-splittingly funny you'll wish you could keep reading 'til quittin' time. In this collection of essays, American humorist David Sedaris chronicles his to move to France and his attempts to learn the language and adjust to the culture. If you're in an off mood, this book is a foolproof way to pull you out of a midday slump.

Lizz Free or Die by Lizz Winstead

If you're a fan of Tina Fey's Bossypants, it's safe to say you'll enjoy this collection of autobiographical essays by comedian and Daily Show co-creator Lizz Winstead. From struggling to find her voice to using humor to combat life's challenges, her hilarious and empowering essays offer pieces of wisdom that you can apply to your career and your real life. I highly recommend this collection to anyone who's skeptical of "the Man." 

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

What makes someone extremely successful? Their intelligence? Their ambition? What about their birth date? Malcolm Gladwell explores the unexpected factors that contribute to high levels of success in this fascinating work of nonfiction. Warning: His 10,000-Hour Rule might inspire you to get back to your desk ASAP if you're interested in a promotion. 

Heartburn by Nora Ephron 

The demise of the perfect marriage may not sound like the plot of a light-hearted novel, but trust me, Nora Ephron's semi-autobiographical novel will have you laughing out loud. Rachel, the novel's seven months pregnant narrator, finds out her husband is in love with another woman, and then promptly oscillates between wanting him back, wanting him dead, and sharing comfort food recipes. If work is making you wish you had a pie to throw in someone's face, this novel will be cathartic for you.

Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris

If you were a diehard fan of the mockumentary sitcom The Office, then you'll love Joshua Ferris' satire of a failing advertising firm in Then We Came to the End. From the magnetic draw of free bagels to the sadness of eating lunch at your desk to the paranoia surrounding layoffs, Ferris' portrayal of the modern workplace is poignant and bitterly funny.

Personal Days by Ed Park

Looking to commiserate with someone about the daily grind? Who better than a fictional character? Because, let's face it, complaining to your coworkers won't do your career any favors. Ed Park's comic portrayal of a white-collar office in Personal Days is for anyone who has ever wondered: What does my boss do all day? Where does the time go? And, why is Microsoft Word malfunctioning?

Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker

If you're going to read on your lunch break, you might as well read a book about someone on their lunch break, right? In this hilarious steam-of-consciousness account of what goes through one man's mind during his lunch hour, even the smallest observation is treated with the utmost importance (including the correct office bathroom etiquette, obviously).

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

If you constantly find yourself fantasizing about an exciting life beyond your cubicle, this book is for you. Clay, an unemployed web designer, takes a job working the late-night shift at a 24-hour bookstore owned by the enigmatic Mr. Penumbra. As the mysterious inner workings of the bookstore, its cliental, and its owner unfold, Clay embarks on an adventure that results in technology and literature colliding in a beautifully modern way.

How to Write a Novel by Melanie Sumner

Sometimes things don't quite work out as planned. While following a 30-day plan to write a novel, 12-and-a-half year old Aris attempts to pen a bestseller based on her dysfunctional family, but runs into some problems when a dark family secret is revealed. Full disclosure: The precocious protagonist might remind you of you when you were young and inspire you to start working toward that dream job you've been putting off.

Must Reads