The stockings have been unstuffed, the egg nog and candy canes devoured, and the carols caroled. The day after Christmas is the perfect time to close yourself off and relax with a book — a book that's short enough and absorbing enough to cut through the holiday hangover. Maybe you are trying to avoid another visit from great aunt Margaret or your 15 nieces and nephews who need help setting up their new toys from Santa after OD-ing on them yesterday. Or maybe you scheduled your flight for the day immediately after Christmas to hurry back home. Either way, you will need the company of a good read — and, frankly, there's no better excuse than having your nose in a book to not have to talk to anyone around you.
These 10 novels, short story collections, and novellas will wrap you up with their engaging stories, making you forget all the cleaning that needs to be done or that you're still sleeping on a couch at your in-laws' house. There are murders, magic, and even the strangely interesting mundane that will pull you into the stories for at least a few hours while your brain comes down from all of the loud, boisterous holiday festivities.
The Night Circus by Ellen Morgenstern
Though at nearly 400 pages, you probably won't be able to binge your way through The Night Circus in one sitting, the world Morgenstern creates will whisk you away into a magical (literally) fantasy land and several hours will probably go by before you look up and remember where you are. Her work is as wondrous as her titular circus itself.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
When Neil Gaiman's character Coraline ventures behind the old locked door in the drawing room, you won't be able to help but follow her, and for around only 150 pages, you, too, will be locked in her terrifying adventure in an alternate world. And what will really pull you in is the accompanying drawings that bring the whole adventure to life.
The Isle of Youth by Laura van den Berg
There's an urgency in Laura van den Berg's The Isle of Youth that will have you flipping through the around-250 pages in no time at all, like you got caught in a whirlwind. Though it's a short read, you'll be so invested in the fractured lives of the women the author portrays and it will stick with you for long afterward.
Nobody Is Ever Missing by Catherine Lacey
If you've been trapped in a house with your whole extended family for a couple of days, you might wish you could take a spontaneous one-way flight to New Zealand like Catherine Lacey's protagonist in Nobody is Ever Missing. But Eat, Pray, Love, this book is not, and it will wrap you in and envelop you for the entire 256 pages with its all-too-real depiction of an existential crisis at work in a young woman.
Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? by Lorrie Moore
The best friends in Lorrie Moore's novella Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? are driven by their own restlessness and tiredness of their surroundings — so you may be able to relate when you're snowbound with the in-laws. As Moore's works tend to be, it's both hilarious and heartbreaking, and you'll be along for the dangerous ride with the two young girls caught in an ephemeral teenage friendship complete with stealing cigarettes, sneaking into bars, sleeping in cars, and other wild nights.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Frankly, it will be hard not to read E. Lockhart's We Were Liars in one sitting. The haunting, mysterious novel will bring you along on the Sinclair family's fateful summer vacation on a private island, and you'll be whipping through the pages until you can uncover all of Lockhart's secrets.
The Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker
At only around 135 pages, you can probably tear through The Mezzanine in an afternoon, and it's so mesmerizing that you'll wonder where the time went. The entire novella takes place over one escalator ride, and you'll never again look at a break from work the same way.
Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill
Dept. of Speculation is a quick read at less than 200 pages, but it's not the short length that will make you want to speed read until the end, it's Offill's incredible prose and expert hand in describing a crumbling marriage.
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie's whodunnit about 10 strangers, each with a secret, who are lured to a private island and killed off one by one will have you so wrapped up guessing the murderer that you probably won't look up until dinnertime.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
After four family members were suspiciously killed by arsenic poisoning, members of the Blackwood family isolated themselves in their home. But Shirley Jackson's story of what happens when that isolation is breached is full of secrets, incredibly atmospheric, and absolutely un-put-down-able.
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