The end of the year is almost here, and bookworms everywhere are scrambling to make sure they reach the goals they set for themselves in January. To help you hit your target, we’ve rounded up a list of 2020 books that pack a big punch in a little package. All of these picks clock in at under 235 pages, making them perfect quick reads even for those who have already hit their challenge goal.
Let Her Be by Lisa Unger
The best thrillers are the ones you never want to put down, and at just under 60 pages, Lisa Unger’s novella is perfect for reading in a single breathless sitting. Writer Will finds himself compulsively drawn to his ex-girlfriend’s social media, searching for clues that her perfect life is a lie. His cyberstalking takes a sinister turn when he convinces a friend to help him investigate.
Long Way Down: The Graphic Novel by Jason Reynolds, illustrated by Danica Novgorodoff
This graphic novel adaptation of Jason Reynolds’ powerful young adult novel is one readers will remember long after they’ve turned the final page. When his brother Shawn is murdered, 15-year-old Will knows he has to follow their neighborhood’s rules: don’t cry, don’t snitch, get revenge. He grabs Shawn’s gun, gets in the elevator, and hits the button for the ground floor. But it’s a long way down, and before Will reaches the bottom he’s visited by six people from his past, all victims of gun violence, who make him question what he knows and what he plans to do. Novgorodoff’s watercolors and sparing use of color perfectly match Reynolds’ moving verse.
Rest and Be Thankful by Emma Glass
If you’re looking for some short fiction, pick up Emma Glass’ novella about a pediatric nurse who is haunted by a strange vision. Laura works the night shift on a neonatal unit in London. Though the work is fulfilling, Laura’s unhappy with her home life and how sleep-deprived her job leaves her. She begins seeing a dark figure in her dreams. When the figure starts to appear during her shifts, she starts to fear she’s losing her mind.
Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark
In Nebula Award winner P. Djèlí Clark’s latest, director D. W. Griffith is a sorcerer who uses his film The Birth of a Nation to cast a spell on Americans and bring the Ku Klux Klan into power. Sword-wielding Maryse Boudreaux is determined to stop him, but she’ll need help and the strength to face her own demons if she hopes to succeed.
Bottle Rocket by Erin McLellan
Erin McLellan’s So Over the Holidays novella series is ideal for romance readers who love a good holiday romance. There’s a Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and newly-released New Year’s Eve book, but one of my personal favorites is Bottle Rocket, which takes place on the Fourth of July. This is the third book in the series features a sweet and steamy reunion between high school sweethearts, who never quite stopped loving each other.
Guantanamo Voices edited by Sarah Mirk
Sarah Mirk edits this nonfiction collection featuring work by more than a dozen artists. Each artist contributed a piece based on an interview with ex-prisoners, guards, lawyers, and more people who spent time at Guantanamo Bay prison. Approximately 780 prisoners have been held in Guantanamo Bay, with 40 still remaining. This short but powerful book will leave a lasting impact on readers.
Chili Cauldron Curse by Lynn Cahoon
The Kitchen Witch series kicks off with a novella sure to please fans of cozy mysteries with a magical twist. Mia Malone travels to Magic Springs, Idaho to help her grandmother set up a local food bank. Once she arrives, she stumbles across the body of a local coven leader and must act fast if she hopes to find who killed him. Dive into this book now while you wait for the series’ first full-length novel to hit shelves in January 2021.
American Christmas by Adriana Herrera
Adriana Herrera returns to her Dreamers series with a holiday novella perfect for reading by the twinkling lights of a Christmas tree. Ari rarely takes the time to slow down, and Yin is determined to change that this Christmas. They’ve worked so hard towards the life they’ve built together, and Yin’s planning on celebrating that in style with a huge gift for Ari. Little does he know, Ari’s also working on a very special present this year.
Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey
If the phrase “librarian spies” has you intrigued, you definitely want to check out this novella from Hugo award winner Sarah Gailey. Drawing inspiration from pulp Westerns, this near-future story follows Esther, who stows away in a traveling Librarian’s book wagon after Beatriz, her best friend and the woman she loved, is executed for possessing illegal reading materials. To Esther’s surprise, the Librarians are queer spies en route to rescuing a group of refugees. Under the guise of distributing government-approved propaganda, the Librarians are able to safely move from town to town. But Esther soon uncovers that one of their own could be hiding secrets that put them all at risk.
Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera, illustrated by Celia Moscote
This bestselling YA novel was adapted into a graphic novel this year and makes the perfect quick read for both fans of the original and new readers. Juliet Takes a Breath introduces readers to Juliet Milagros Palante, a queer Puerto Rican girl from the Bronx who is trying to figure out… well, everything. Over the course of one summer, she travels, meets people who do and don’t understand her, and learns to embrace her identity. Moscote uses pinks, purples, and peach hues to capture the changes in Juliet’s life and the bright future ahead.