[WORD PEOPLE] 13 Short Books to Read on Long Journeys


Here at ProEdit, we like to read. And apparently we like lists too, because this is our third one this month. The following books are perfect for that business trip across the country or for your vacation down to Jamaica (I would have gone with you if you had asked). All genres are included, and each book is short enough to read on a plane, train, or car ride (all less than 200 pages) yet meaningful enough to leave a lasting impression.

1. Tinkers

by Paul Harding

George Washington Crosby is dying, and that’s the only teaser I’ll give you. Simultaneously heartbreaking and life affirming, Harding weaves a powerful story about love, loss, illness, faith, and the unfailing beauty of nature.

2. This is Water

by David Foster Wallace

DFW has a remarkable gift of making you laugh and yet feel introspective and slightly depressed after just one sentence. It’s not exactly a peppy read, but it is inspirational and thought provoking nonetheless.

3. Night

by Elie Wiesel

Searing, horrific, and painstakingly moving, Night is a poignant autobiographical account of Wiesel’s survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps.

4. Animal Farm

by George Orwell

This classic is an allegorical and dystopian novel that’s even got communism bacon. What else do you really need in a book?

5. Interpreter of Maladies

by Jhumpa Lahiri

This Pulitzer Prize-winning book comprises nine meticulously crafted short stories that address cultural differences between India and America and how they affect interpersonal relationships and worldviews.

6. The Old Man and the Sea

by Ernest Hemingway

Don’t rule this book out because of a seemingly boring title: It was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1953.

7. The Prince

by Niccolo Macchiavelli

Even though the author died in the 16th century, this is a must-read for all those interested in seizing a country or destroying their enemies—political philosophy at its finest.

8. Steal like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

by Austin Kleon

This is a great and humorous read for all creative types in the age of digital devices and the debate of re-appropriation.

9. The Great Gatsby

by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The book is always better than the movie, and this American classic is no exception. Sorry, Leo.

10. A Christmas Carol

by Charles Dickens

Both chilling and heartwarming, this masterpiece has never been out of print and won’t be as long as it reigns as the best Christmas story ever told.

11. We the Animals

by Justin Torres

This contemporary novel is an autobiographical short story about a boy trying to understand the adult world and his place in it.

12. The Time Machine

by H. G. Wells

One of the first and finest science fiction books, The Time Machine is centered on a distant time where humanity is divided into two social classes, telling a tale both vivid and disturbing.

13. The Bridges of Madison County

by Robert James Waller

I cheated on this last one. It’s 208 pages, but, because it’s the bestselling hardcover of all time, I deemed it worthy of mention.

Sources: Barnes & Noble, Good Reads, Good Reads

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