Top Ten Tuesday: Books to Read When You Are Short on Time


I love reading books – when I’m reading for pleasure and not for work – slowly, one chapter at a time, over the course of a week or two. Once mandated by hours at school and doing homework, reading slowly is now a luxury: reading slowly means I live more fully in each part of the story, that I carry the characters and world with me to a greater depth than speed-reading allows: I can live immersed in the story.

And isn’t that part of the pleasure of following a comic book series or a webcomic, that the wait between each episode’s release pushes you to read and reread each panel, analyzing the characters with a close attention to detail and the construction of the story that wouldn’t be so implicitly encouraged if you could read the whole thing in one go?

That said, not all books are constructed in a way to allow the reader to put them down, mull, and return hours later. Here are a few books that recently let me indulge slowly without losing the flavour of the narrative:

  1. The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison. The names, the names! Linger over every name and title, speak them aloud and relish their syllables, and before long the Elf and Goblin systems of pronunciation will flow naturally off your lips. So much love for this world and its inhabitants!
  2. Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho. One of my favourite go-to books for court politics (I may have a thing for *fictional* political maneuvering), and a must read for anyone who likes historical fiction, fantasy, race and gender politics, dragons, the Regency era, murder, Jane Austen, folklore, slow burn romances, vampires, women with power, or indomitable heroes. If you only like one of that list, this is still the book for you. *floats off in a cloud of heart-shaped bubbles, murmuring Prunella and Zacharias’s names*
  3. Year of the Griffin by Diana Wynne Jones. Jones’s criticism of “result-driven reforms” to the university system is biting and hilarious. The circle of friends who serve as protagonists proves endearing and resourceful during their run-ins with professors, policy, assassination attempts, librarians, cafeteria food, kidnappings, and other family-related misfortunes.
  4. The Hidden Life of Deer by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas. Non-fiction. An anthropological and poetic account of several years observing whitetails, most particularly during the bitter winter of 2007-2008, when the author put out corn for the local wild turkeys and found herself feeding several families of deer as well.
  5. Always Human by walkingnorth. (Episode 1 here) The comic is constructed so that scrolling down for the next image is part of the story. The use of white space and colour (COLOUR!!!) is fabulous, the storylines and character development are superb, and *drools* the drawing itself is amazing. It is perpetually tempting to cosplay Sunati.


Short on time? Who isn’t? Whether you’re juggling school, work, family responsibilities, and social life, or all of the above, finding time to read can be a real challenge in today’s crazy busy modern life. Here are a few great books that are perfect for fitting in whenever you get a quick break.

  1. Flying Lessons and Other Stories edited by Ellen Oh. Short story collections are an ideal choice for the harried reader, allowing you to read a story here and a story there, without having to keep track of a longer narrative. This bold collection is an absolute winner, covering an incredible variety of subjects and topics, and bringing together some of the greatest voices in contemporary children’s literature, include Kwame Alexander, Walter Dean Myers, Tim Federle, Jacqueline Woodson, Grace Lin and more. Get it, read it, love it.
  2. Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky. This is a great collection of short stories celebrating fearless, pioneering women. Read a few pages, explore the life of a fearless female, then repeat!
  3. The World’s Worst Children by David Walliams. Funny, funny, funny! David Walliams tells the stories of “five beastly boys and five gruesome girls” in this tongue-in-cheek celebration of bad behaviour that is best enjoyed with a sense of humour.
  4. Dragons at Crumbling Castle by Terry Pratchett. How could I pass up an opportunity to include one of my favourite authors in this list? This hilarious fantasy collection is perfect for readers with limited time, packing humour and heart into each and every one of its fourteen stories.
  5. Unnatural Creatures edited by Neil Gaiman.  This collection of short stories celebrates the weird, wonderful and sometimes terrifying creatures that live in our minds, myths and legends. As in most collections, some stories are stronger than others, but on the whole this is a fascinating array of fantasy tales.


I read picturebooks!


  1. Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona
  2. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates*
  3. The Second Mango by Shira Glassman**
  4. Kim’s Convenience by Ins Choi
  5. Ghost Girl in the Corner by Daniel Jose Older

*Not a long book, just a hard one.

**A long-ish book that feels very short.