books to read when you have no time

For the students out there who just finished their first week of classes, or for the working professional continuously struggling at their daily grind–this is for you. 15 minute break between classes? There’s a book for that. Half an hour lunch break? There’s also a book for that.

As someone who consumes books like popcorn (frantically grabbing for more and ignoring the few bad kernels that get stuck between teeth because there’s always the buttery perfect kernels in there somewhere), I have personally dealt with the “no time to read” dilemma and trust me, I know it is horrible. Being too busy to read is a terrible thing, but sometimes it just takes having the right book to make it work. There is hope.

Option #1: Re-read

howl's moving castle

Often, during times of high-stress (mid-terms anyone?), your mind needs a break. No time for fresh material when you’re trying to cram. The solution? A re-read. Grab a favorite off your shelf and be comforted by the familiar words of The Hobbit or The Sorcerer’s Stone. My go-to? Howl’s Moving Castle.

Option #2: Fluff

books to read: delirium lauren oliver

Sometimes, light and fluffy is the only way to go. If there isn’t sufficient time to delve into a book by Haruki Murakami, then there’s no shame in picking up a Sarah Dessen novel. Some suggestions might be Don’t Look Back by Jennifer Armentrout, or Scarlet by Marissa Meyer. Although not-necessarily “chick-lit,” a good place to start might be with a book by Lauren Oliver. I recently read Delirium and it was very fast-paced and easy to get into.

Option #3: Graphic Novel

books to read, allie brosh, hyperbole and a half

Too pressed for time to even read a 300pg YA? It’s time to bring out a graphic novel. My top suggestions include Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh, and This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki.

Option #4: Non-fiction

books to read: heartbreaking work of a staggering genius by dave eggers

For some people, non-fiction may not be what you pick up when you want to just read for a good time, but those people clearly have not read the right non-fiction, because non-fiction is fantastic. Sitting by my bedside this week is a copy of Annie Dilliard’s For the Time Being as well as A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. Sometimes it is easier to pick up and read a handful of pages from a book when there isn’t an intense plot to rush through.

Option #5: Classics

books to read, a tree grows in brooklyn by betty smith

Sometimes this will mean a re-read, sometimes it will mean a fluff-read–either way, no matter the circumstances, it is good to have one classic book close at hand. I have found that, despite having tried ardently to make my way through this list of top 25 books to read, I always discover another great highly-acclaimed work that I have not read. The other day I checked out A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, because somehow I’ve made it twenty-one years without having read it. Other suggestions might be On the Road by Kerouac or maybe The Color Purple by Alice Walker.

Option #6: Poetry

books to read, ariel by syvia plath

There is always time for a poem. Poetry is usually short, usually interesting, and still, almost always, rich and vivid and fulfilling. I always finish reading a poem feeling more educated and somehow spiritual, (but maybe that’s just me). At any rate, poems are typically small and can be read in small time-segments. My top suggestion, for those acquainted with poetry and those who are unfamiliar, is Sylvia Plath’s Ariel.

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