I wrote a list about the big books I hope to read during quarantine, but of course, since I want to take advantage of this time at home and I need something to take my mind off everything that is happening in the world I also have a list of short books that I hope to read. These are books that are about 100 pages each that can easily be read in one sitting. All of them I could have read by now, but I kept putting them off. So now one of my goals is to read at least three of them.
The Dry Heart by Natalie Ginzburg
The Dry Heart begins with a very matter of fact statement: ”I shot him between the eyes.” A reviewer noted this first line in the first review I read of this book. I immediately went out and bought a copy because why would I NOT want to read a book that begins like that? As the plot description on the back of the book reveals, the narrator shoots her husband and that is where the book picks up. It holds so much mystery: why did the narrator shoot her husband? What occurred in their marriage that led to that decision? SO many questions that I have because of that line. I’m particularly interested to read how Ginzburg manages to fit a tale of an unhappy marriage into 88 pages.
Ongoingness: The End of a Diary by Sarah Manguso
Ongoingness: The End of a Diary is a short non-fiction volume that I’ve had for a while now. Funny story, I actually completely forgot about this book and it fell behind a row of books on my bookcase and lived there for about a year and I only rediscovered it when I was rearranging my bookcases last year. I want to read this book because as someone who has also kept a diary for the majority of her life as a need to record everything that has happened, I want to read about someone else’s experience. From what I’ve gathered about the book, the fragments from Manguso’s diary that are in the book are powerful and explore her need to keep a record of everything and how it became a sort of meditation.
104 pages. Buy it here.
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
Shamefully, I haven’t read any Virginia Woolf books before. Or maybe I did in high school, but I have no recollection of it. I really do not know what has taken so long, but quarantine has given me the opportunity to rectify that. A Room of One’s Own is considered by many to be a fundamental part of feminism and women’s studies. In it, Woolf explores women’s role in society and how women have to have a way to create, a room of their own. How many women could have gifted us books, visual art, music had they had the opportunity to create? The means to create?
137 pages. Buy it here.
Agua Viva by Clarice Lispector
Agua Viva is a book that you have to read to grasp what it is about. Or at least that’s what I am figuring out. There’s not much in the way of a description on the back of the book except that it is a meditation on the nature of life and time. It is a philosophical book that explores everything from life and time to sleep. This is one of those books that I’ve heard great things about but I am going into it not really knowing what to expect.
105 pages. Buy it here.
Tell Me How It Ends by Valeria Luselli
After reading The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio and watching all the news reports about the children being separated from their parents at the border, I knew that I had to move this book up in my TBR list. As the book description states on the back Luiselli forces the reader to confront the treatment of undocumented children, the part that America has played in creating the dangers that plague their homelands, and the ideals of the American dream versus the reality of American racism and fear. She speaks with asylum seekers about their experience crossing over and their experience once in America. Much like The Undocumented Americans, this is presented as recommended reading and I have no doubt about that. I see this as a book that will educate me and inspire me.
57 pages. Buy it here.