Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, where book bloggers are invited to share their top ten lists centered on a certain theme.
This week’s theme was novellas/short stories. I rarely read novellas or short stories, so I decided to talk about my top ten quick reads. These are all books that can be read in a short span of time, and are perfect for reluctant readers.
1. Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
The jury had all they needed to convict Mary: a dead white baby and a young Black suspect. Mary spent her childhood in jail for the crime she allegedly committed, but never said what really happened. Now, a pregnant teen just out of prison, Mary must finally prove her innocence before her baby is taken from her.
Allegedly looks like a long book, but it’s such an engrossing, addictive story, that it’s impossible to put down. Tiffany D. Jackson delivers such a chilling, complex plot that pulls no punches. This is the kind of book that you want to sit down with all day and frantically turn the pages until the end.
2. Dear Martin by Nic Stone
After being handcuffed and assaulted by a white police officer, Black teen Justyce McAllister turns to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for guidance and begins to write letters in his journal to Dr. King. When Justyce and his best friend are shot at by an off-duty police officer, Justyce finds himself caught in a media frenzy.
At just over 200 pages, Dear Martin is a quick read with a very appealing and easy-to-read voice. Parts of the dialogue are written in a script-like format, which makes this such a good recommendation for reluctant readers or those who find it difficult to read large blocks of text. I love recommending Dear Martin to fans of Angie Thomas, Jason Reynolds, or Walter Dean Myers.
3. Nothing Left to Burn by Heather Ezell
After being evacuated from her home due to a raging wild fire, teen Audrey Harper must grapple with the knowledge that her home could be lost forever, while she worries about Brooks, the volunteer firefighter with whom she has fallen in love. In the 24 hours after evacuation, flashbacks reveal Brooks’s troubled past, and readers witness Audrey being pulled towards Brooks, the fire, and the truth.
Nothing Left to Burn is an engaging, chilling book. It has a fast pace that keeps readers interested, and the wild fire acts as a perfect mirror for the fire of Brooks’s character and Audrey’s relationship with him. Beyond that, it’s also a very real look at how messy falling in love can be.
4. My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma
Winnie and Raj’s love had been foretold by a prophecy (seriously!) but when they break up, Winnie is ready to give up on finding true love. After developing feelings for Dev, a handsome classmate who loves film as much as she does, Winnie must decide if she wants to take a chance on love, or return to the comfort of Raj.
Winnie is such a loveable, hilarious, and relatable character! The book is interspersed with Winnie’s dreams of Bollywood stars, and her passion for film makes readers root for her. I love reading about teens who have huge passions that consume their lives. Also, as a huge Bend It Like Beckham fan, I was loving the Gurinder Chadha references.
5. We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
On the day her grandfather disappeared, Marin hopped on a plane with nothing but her phone, wallet, and a photo of her mom, and she never looked back. After hiding from the truth for months at her college in New York, Marin must finally face her past, her home, and her family when her best friend Mabel comes to visit.
Nina LaCour has such a gorgeous writing style that brings emotions to the surface. We Are Okay is about love, pain, forgiveness, memories, and family, and it explores these themes in such a poetic way that you just want to take it all in during one sitting. Also, can we talk about that cover? It’s probably my favorite book cover EVER and I wish I could buy a print of it!
6. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
When Will’s older brother Shawn is murdered, Will only has one option: revenge. Armed with Shawn’s gun, Will gets in his apartment building elevator to travel down to find Shawn’s murderer. But as the elevator descends, it stops on each floor. The doors open—and a ghost from Will’s past gets in.
Long Way Down totally deserves all the hype it’s gotten. It’s chilling, haunting, and masterfully written, just like all of Jason Reynolds’s books. Told in verse, Long Way Down can be read in just a couple of hours, and is perfect for hooking new YA readers.
7. Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E. K. Johnston
Hermione Winters is a competitive cheerleader—she lives, sleeps, and breathes cheer. But after being sexually assaulted at cheer camp, her life is uprooted and she is forced to make difficult decisions that she never expected. Hermione refuses to be seen as a victim or as a cautionary tale, and with the help of her BFF, Hermione works to move on and find solace in cheer again.
Exit, Pursued by a Bear is an uplifting story different than many other novels about sexual assault. It presents survivors in such a positive way and focuses on Hermione’s strength and how friendship carries her through the aftermath of rape. E. K. Johnston has a really appealing, easy-to-read style that makes this one a quick read.
8. The Closest I’ve Come by Fred Aceves
Marcos yearns to be loved, but with neglectful mom, and friends who aren’t exactly talking about their feelings, he knows he’s not going to get it. When Marcos is signed up for an after-school program for teens with unmet potential, he forms an unlikely friendship with Amy, a punk girl, and Zach, a dorky theater kid. These new friendships change the way Marcos sees the world, and himself.
This is another book that has a very easy-to-read style and a relatable voice. I love that it explores toxic masculinity, and the socio-economic factors that effect communities & families of color. Readers will love watching Marcos grow and open his eyes to new ideas, experiences, and friendships.
9. They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
On September 5, Mateo and Rufus both get phone calls from Death-Cast, a company that predicts deaths with 100% accuracy, telling them that they will die today. Total strangers, Mateo and Rufus meet each other through an app called Last Friend, that helps connect people on their last days. Together, they try to squeeze in a lifetime of experiences in a single day.
This is my favorite book on this list, and it destroyed me (pro tip: don’t read this book in your work breakroom unless you want your coworkers to see you cry). This is an #OwnVoices queer, intersectionally diverse novel written so beautifully. Adam Silvera is the master of writing characters that readers fall in love with, and Rufus & Mateo are no exception.
10. Cat Boy by Benji Nate
When Olive wished that she could hang out with her cat Henry like a real person, she didn’t really think it through. She ends up with a human-sized, talking cat as a roommate. Shenanigans ensure as Olive & giant Henry figure out how to navigate life together.
It’s no secret that graphic novels are great quick picks for reluctant readers. Catboy in particular is such a hilarious, adorable story that I couldn’t stop reading. This is a must-read for cat people, and I especially love that the characters subvert a lot of gender & sexuality norms. Plus, the outfits that Olive and Henry wear are the cutest!
Do you prefer short or long books? Do you ever read short stories/novellas?