Top Ten Tuesday – My Ten Most Recent Reads

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future weeks’ topics can be found here. This week’s topic is…

My Ten Most Recent Reads

Between working, studying, and preparing to publish a novel (six weeks until Other People’s Butterflies gets published!) I’ve not had much time for reading, and this list takes me right back to 2020.

Educated by Tara Westover

It’s not an easy read but, despite the brutality of Westover’s upbringing, this isn’t your average misery memoir. It’s hugely insightful, and sheds light on the type of rural, religious family that’s often reduced to a caricature.

The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century by Steven Pinker

I’m a relatively “unschooled” writer, so I feel like I should be reading more books like this one. It’s an unstuffy writing guide that offers lots of helpful tips for making your writing snap. But some of the grammatical stuff is pretty intimidating!

Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery

I loved Anne of Green Gables as a kid, but wasn’t so keen on the other books in the series. Was this because the books decrease in quality? Or did I find “grown-up” Anne less easy to relate to than Anne as a child? Definitely the latter. Anne of Avonlea is beautifully written and an ideal comfort read. Also, it turns out that “grown-up” Anne is only 16!

Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass by Lana Del Rey

If you’re a fan of Lana’s music, this is a must-read. Her poetry explores similar themes to her lyrics, but in a slightly different (perhaps more vulnerable) way.

Desolation Island by Patrick O’Brian

Hooray for reliable escapism! This is the fifth book in O’Brian’s series and has sea battles, spies, and the ever-entertaining friendship between main characters Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin (who are basically an old married couple at this point).

Common Bonds by various authors, including me!

Obviously I read my contributor’s copy of Common Bonds – an anthology of short stories and poetry centred on aromantic characters and platonic relationships. Seriously, if you’re looing for aro representation, or heart-warming stories of friendship, family, found-family and platonic partners, this is the book for you.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

SPOILERS, but I kinda wish Little Women ended halfway through. Poor Beth! And poor Jo, marrying some guy who’s twice her age and calls her stories trash!

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkein

I finally got around to reading this, and it’s not my cup of tea. I don’t mind a slow-paced story as long as there’s a lot going on inside the characters’ heads. But these guys just spend forever deciding where to walk.

The World for a Shilling by Michael Leapman

If I had a time machine, The Great Exhibition of 1851 would be my first stop. Technologies and treasures from all over the world – including a 16 foot telescope, rare diamonds, and a precursor to the fax machine – were displayed in a purpose-built “crystal palace”. The book gives a vivid impression of what it must have been like for visitors.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

A murder-mystery that wastes very little attention on the murderer and contains one of the oddest sex scenes in mainstream fiction. Come for the weirdness, stay for the heart-wrenching portrayal of loss and grief.

Okay, not a bad bunch of books. Have you read any of these? What are some of the best books you’ve read recently?

What to Read When You Don’t Have Time to Read

Grad school is kicking my arse at the moment. Juggling work and study is much harder this year because the structure of the course has changed due to COVID, and because the teachers are making up for the lack of face-to-face teaching by giving us extra homework. The end result is that I have very little time to read. A depressing state of affairs for any bookworm.

So, I’ve been thinking about the sort of thing a book lover can realistically read when she’s short of time. There’s not much point getting into a chunky historical novel or epic fantasy series, but here are some ideas for quick reads…

All the poetry! (But especially chapbooks)

Poetry can contain complex events, fully-formed characters or even entire worlds in just a few lines. Being short of time is the perfect excuse to indulge in poetry, particularly chapbooks.

In case you’re not familiar with chapbooks, these are short, pocket-sized poetry collections, often based on a specific theme. If you’re not a poetry afficionado, these are less daunting (and cheaper) than a full-length collection. Dancing Girl Press has some great ones, and they’re going to publish mine later this year. 😊

Short stories

Seriously, why don’t short stories get more love? There are some brilliant collections out there. Three of my faves are The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter, Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood, and Grand Union by Zadie Smith.

Middle Grade

MG novels are usually shorter than adult or YA novels, with brisk pacing that encourages a quick read. Trust me, some of them are every bit as good as you remember. Which brings us nicely to…

Re-reads

I’ve always found that re-reading is easy to do in short bursts. You know what’s coming next (unless you read it ages ago) so you’re less likely to read ten chapters at a time because you just have to know what happens.

Comics

It’s delicious to lose a whole afternoon to comics – getting lost in the artwork and enjoying the nuances of the story – but it’s just as fun to whiz through them like a nine-year-old who’s eaten too many Haribo.

I’m embarrassingly basic when it comes to comics, and mostly read superhero stuff (Marvel for the heroes, DC for the villains of course). Lately I’ve been loving The Umbrella Academy by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá.

Audiobooks

Audiobooks must be the ultimate time saver, which is why it’s very weird that I haven’t listened to any since the 90s, when they were called “books on tape” and my mum played them to stop me complaining on long car journeys.

Now seems like the perfect time to start listening again, but I want to start with a really good one. In particular, I’m looking for something where the narration adds something to the story. Any recommendations?

Top Ten Tuesday – New-to-me Authors I Read in 2020

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future weeks’ topics can be found here. This week’s topic is…

New-to-me Authors I Read in 2020

Since 2020 was such a clusterf*ck of a year, I did a fair bit of comfort reading. But amongst all the books by familiar old favourites, I did manage to find some new authors who I’ll be reading again.

  1. Gillian Flynn

I finally read Gone Girl and I feel like this is one of those occasions where the hype is justified. Sharp Objects is high on my TBR.

2. Lauren Groff

I read The Monsters of Templeton after my mum recommended it. Mother knows best, of course – Groff is a superb writer and the book is a great family saga with some subtle supernatural elements.

3. Nicholas Eames

Kings of the Wyld is one of the most purely fun books I read in 2020. Somebody please make this rip-roaring, daft-as-balls adventure into a movie. Or a TV show. Or both.

4. Becky Chambers

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is one of the reasons I am determined to read more sci-fi in 2021.

5. Arthur Ransome

You’re never too old for a children’s classic, and Swallows and Amazons is as classic as they get. There are twelve books in the series and I expect I’ll be dipping into it again when summer arrives.

6. Alice Sebold

The Lovely Bones is such a rare thing – a book that begins with a murder and DGAF about the murderer. More victim-focussed crime books, please.  

7. Hank Green

I’d read a couple of John Greens, but this year I read An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green and found it both an excellent sci-fi and a thoughtful exploration of fame, especially “internet fame”.

Since most of the authors I’ve mentioned so far are well-known, I’m going to narrow my focus a little. I read an anthology of fairytale retellings called Unburied Fables in 2020. And while I’m always up for a fairytale retelling, I particularly enjoyed these ones because so many of the stories feature characters who, like me, are asexual or aromantic or both. The stories also have lots of other forms of LGBT+ representation.

The authors all write beautifully, so which story you would prefer probably depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re after a sweet, grounded, m/m romance, I recommend The Last Lost Boy by George Lester. If you prefer sci-fi with richly detailed world building, you’ll like The Suns of Terre by Will J. Fawley. But three authors I really hope to read again are…

(SPOILERS for these stories)

8. Laure Nepenthes

No prizes for guessing which fairytale Handsome and the Beast is based on, but it’s the first story I ever read with a “happily ever after” ending for a platonic relationship.

9. Moira C. O’Dell

O’Dell’s story Satin Skirts and Wooden Shoes is a retelling of Cinderella. I’ll never get tired of aromantic characters using magic to wriggle their way out of unwanted marriages!

10. Minerva Cerridwen

Match Sticks is waaaay less depressing than the fairytale it’s based on, and a celebration of so many different types of love and relationships.

2020 Reading Recap

There’s no getting around it – 2020 was a shit show. And books, as always, were a reliable source of comfort, escapism and inspiration. I finished 27 in total, which I know is hardly anything compared to some committed readers, but I feel like 2.25 books a month is pretty respectable.

As for the type of books I read, I did notice a couple of trends. I read more non-fiction than usual this year (inevitable for a grad student) and I read more books from series. I also stepped out of my comfort zone and read some very girly, fluffy chick lit.

My favourite/least favourite books of 2020

Maybe this makes me a basic bitch, but I finally read Gone Girl and I absolutely adored it. I want to read everything Gillian Flynn has ever written and get a tee-shirt with Amy Dunne’s “cool girl” monologue on it!

The most disappointing book I read was probably Death Comes to Pemberley. I was all set to enjoy Elizabeth and Darcy solving murder cases together, but that dream was just too good to be true. Elizabeth hardly gets a look in, and Darcy gets embroiled in a boring courtroom drama.

My reading goals for 2021

  • Read more YA. This is appalling, but I didn’t read a single YA book in 2020. I plan to make up for it in 2021.
  • Read more sci-fi. I generally lean more towards fantasy (sci-fi’s hippy older brother) but in 2021 I will give sci-fi the attention it deserves.
  • Read more indie-published/self-published books. Find hidden gems and support scrappy authors making a living outside the mainstream? Yes please.

Recommendations are very welcome. If you can recommend an indie-published or self-published YA with sci-fi elements I will be eternally grateful!

Top Ten Tuesday – Authors I’ve Read the Most Books By

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future weeks’ topics can be found here. This week’s topic is…

Authors I’ve read the most books by

I like to think I have some good qualities as a reader. I’m open-minded in terms of genre, not remotely snobby (yay for the trashiest of trashy thrillers) and won’t give up on a book just because the first chapter doesn’t grab me. But one quality I seem to lack is loyalty.

Rather than commit to an author I like, I hop around between them, never getting too invested in any of them. For some of the authors on this list, I haven’t read more than four or five of their books. But for me, that’s a big commitment! Here are my top ten…

  1. Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl probably bears at least half the responsibility for my love of reading, dark humour and female villains! As a kid, I read almost all his children’s books and could recite whole chunks of James and the Giant Peach. But my favourite was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, because chocolate.

2. Jacqueline Wilson

Maybe I was a more loyal reader as a kid, because I read heaps of Jacqueline Wilson books along with the Roald Dahls. Looking back on them, I’m really impressed that she managed to write about heavy stuff like homelessness, mental illness and eating disorders in a way that was neither overly scary nor patronising.

3. Diana Gabaldon

I rarely read long series, but I’m hooked on the Outlander novels. I’ve been reading them since I was fourteen, which is maybe too young considering all the sex, violence, sexual violence, gory surgical scenes, etc. But I’m addicted to Jamie and Claire’s adventures, and the Lord John Grey series is just as good.

4. Margaret Attwood

I first read The Handmaid’s Tale as a seventeen-year-old, and the “particicution” scene was the most disturbing thing I’d ever read. It probably still is. Luckily, this didn’t put me off Attwood’s amazing writing. I’m not sure how many of her books I’ve read, but it’s a fair few. My personal favourite is The Robber Bride.

5. Philip Pullman

The His Dark Materials trilogy is brilliant, obviously, but he’s written plenty of other fantastic books.

6. JK Rowling

To address the big, transphobic elephant in the room, I am no longer a fan of JKR. But there will always be a special place in my heart for the Harry Potter series. The books and films are pure magic, and so is the wonderful, creative, diverse fandom.

7. Nicholas Evans

I think that reading Nicholas Evans at thirteen was the first time I consciously recognised “good writing”. Specifically, I noticed his ability to get right inside the minds of his characters and give each one a distinctive voice, and was very impressed.

8. Jane Austen

Austen didn’t write many novels but I’ve read all of them. It wasn’t exactly love at first read because I used to get frustrated with the stifling, judgemental world her characters inhabit. But then I realised that in many ways, it’s not so different from 21st century Britain, and I finally started to appreciate Austen’s subtle satire.

9. Patrick O’Brian

O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series has about 20 books and I’m not even halfway through it. But I’m fully committed to finishing it because this shit is amazing! It has oodles of old-school adventure, plus brilliantly written characters, lots of humour and a complex, heart-warming central friendship.

10. Terry Pratchett

I was a latecomer to Sir Terry’s satirical fantasy. I read The Colour of Magic a few years ago and I’m still playing catch-up with his series of 41(!) Discworld novels. My favourite so far is the festive classic, Hogfather.

I’m kind of annoyed with myself that certain authors haven’t made it onto this list. Why haven’t I read more Zadie Smith? Surely Neil Gaiman should be on there? If you’ll excuse me, I have A LOT of reading to do.

Meanwhile, have you read any of these authors? Are any of them on your top ten list?

My 2020 TBR

Since I have a lot of reading to do for my MSc, I’m keeping my TBR for 2020 short and sweet. There are a couple of next instalments from series that I love, a couple of children’s classics and a couple of authors who I’ve been meaning to read more of. What books are on your list for the new year? And have you read any of these ones?

  1. Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames. An epic fantasy about a gang of middle-aged, washed-up mercenaries, full of adventure and humour – Yes please!
  2. The Mauritius Command by Patrick O’Brian. Because I did the 2019 Reading Women Challenge, I haven’t read any Patrick O’Brian in a year and I’ve missed him. Time to get back to the nautical adventures of Captain Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin.
  3. A biography of Sir Isaac Newton. I don’t read much non-fiction (except for my MSc) but I do like a good biography and Isaac Newton fascinates me. I want to find out more about his experiments with alchemy, his nervous breakdown, and what exactly happened with the apple.
  4. The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante. I am in urgent need of the fourth and final instalment of The Neapolitan Novels. What the hell happened to Lila?!
  5. Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome. This is one of those classics that I never read as a child, but I like the sound of it. It’s about a bunch of kids having adventures in the Lake District, in the days before anyone worried about health and safety.
  6. Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield. Another children’s classic that I never got around to reading. Possibly because I gave up ballet at age 5.
  7. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. I can’t quite believe I’ve only read two and a half Neil Gaiman novels (I consider Good Omens to be 50% a NG novel, since he co-wrote it with Terry Pratchett). I plan on remedying this by reading a bunch of NG in 2020, starting with this one.
  8. Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust. I’m a sucker for a fairytale re-telling, and this one is described as “Frozen meets The Bloody Chamber”. Gimme gimme gimme!
  9. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. I’ve heard many good things about this award-winning space opera.
  10. Swing Time by Zadie Smith. I’ve just finished Smith’s Grand Union Stories and I want more of her impeccable writing. I love stories about close but complicated friendships, and have high hopes for this one.

The 2019 Reading Women Challenge – What I Learnt

So far this year, I’ve read nothing but female authors. I feel like I’ve learnt a few things from the 2019 Reading Women Challenge. Mostly about my own reading habits, but also about the different things that male and female authors focus on when we write.

Differences between male and female authors

I wish I’d noticed something more profound but honestly, the first thing I noticed is that female writers seem to focus more on food. When reading an epic fantasy written by a man, I’ve found that it’s normal to get through the whole quest without anyone stopping for a bite to eat. Does that happen in the same kind of novel written by a woman? Hell no.

Food is mentioned in every book I read for the challenge, often in lingering detail. There are probably all sorts of complex reasons for this. Historically speaking, women have been mainly responsible for food preparation, and it could be argued that women have a more complicated relationship with food because we’re under constant pressure to be skinny. Whatever the reason, I’m glad female authors focus on food because it’s such an important part of everyday life.

The next difference I noticed was that when writing about a character’s appearance, female writers tend to focus on different body parts. You know how women like to make fun of male writers who focus too much on a female character’s tits? (“She breasted boobily down the stairs”) Well, it turns out some female writers have an equally obsessive focus on eyes.

If a male character is attractive, his eyes are often described in rather ridiculous ways. They are given all sorts of flowery adjectives. They are always doing something sexy, like flashing or smouldering or turning the colour of storm clouds, rather than just sitting there like two blobs of jelly with a biological function.

Where are the male authors writing female protagonists?

All books read for the Reading Women Challenge had to be by or about women. So I could have read male authors as long as their main characters were women, but there don’t seem to be many men writing female protagonists. This is surprising, as women buy more books than men, so surely a male author would want to appeal to female readers.

Maybe they’re just not interested in writing female characters, but I suspect the reality is much more complex and beyond the scope of this blog post. I’d just like to say to any male writer who wants to write interesting female characters – Do it! It may be more difficult than writing male characters, but it will be worth it!

My reading habits

This reading challenge has taught me a lot about my own reading habits, and one thing that has become clear is that it often takes me a while to “warm up” to a book. Sometimes I love a book from the first page, but sometimes it takes me a few chapters to get into the style. DNFing a book before the halfway mark is a very bad idea for me.

I also realised that the only books I really dislike are the ones that disappoint me. If I suspect from the beginning that a book is going to be cheesy or have under-developed characters, I can still enjoy it for what it is. But if a book shows loads of promise and then screws everything up, I’ll never quite forgive it.

This challenge has pushed me out of my comfort zone a few times and I’m glad about that. But it has also reminded me that when it comes to books, I should follow my instincts rather than the opinions of others.

For example, I was planning on reading “Gods Behaving Badly” by Marie Philips for Challenge #13 – A myth retelling. But then I read a bunch of recommendations for “The Song of Achilles” and bought it instead. I didn’t hate the book, but I certainly didn’t see what all the fuss was about (this often happens with romantic books). I suppose there’s a delicate balance to be struck between reading outside your comfort zone and acknowledging that you know your own taste.

2019 Reading Women Challenge – The End of the Road

Hooray, I did it! I completed the 2019 Reading Women Challenge and I’m feeling pretty good about it. I’m glad I took the opportunity to explore the wealth of female talent out there, from the 11th century writer Murasaki Shikibu to modern visionaries like Anjali Sachdeva. Here are my thoughts on the final books I read, which may contain spoilers!

Challenge #16 – A book by an Indigenous woman

For this challenge, I chose Heart Berries: A Memoir by the First Nation Canadian writer Terese Marie Mailhot. It doesn’t read like a traditional memoir, with its disjointed timeline and poetic style. It also eschews easy lessons or neat resolutions as it recounts her mental health struggles and her relationships.

It is, frankly, a mess. At times it is a beautiful, inspiring mess, but at other times it is like holding your chaotic friend’s hair back while she word-vomits all over the place. Mailhot doesn’t come across as likeable, and I doubt she intended to. Her rawness is exhausting and I had to read it in small doses.

Challenge #1 – A mystery or thriller written by a woman of colour

Murder in Montego Bay is the first book in the Preddy and Harris series of detective novels, and I don’t think I’ll be reading any of the others as this one just wasn’t my cup of ganja tea (Detective Preddy’s favourite brew).

The pace is leisurely, bordering on glacial, for the first half of the novel. This wouldn’t be a problem if there were more depth to the characters, but none of them seem particularly complex or interesting.

When events kick off towards the end of the novel, there are one or two neat plot twists, and the whole thing develops a filmic, blockbuster kind of feel. Unfortunately, the lack of depth lets the novel down again when the killer is revealed. I didn’t find their motivation entirely convincing, so it worked for me as a “whodunnit” but not as a “whydunnit”.

Challenge #7 – A book featuring a woman in science

I really wanted to like this one, but The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict was a disappointment. It’s about Albert Einstein’s first wife, Mileva, who was also a physicist and is claimed by some historians to have helped him considerably with his ground-breaking theories.

This novel portrays Mileva as Albert’s intellectual equal, who (SPOILER ALERT) comes up with the theory of relativity herself while grieving for her daughter, who dies of scarlet fever. Albert claims the idea as his own, and Mileva’s genius is lost in the shadows while Albert becomes increasingly famous.

Despite an intriguing plot, I didn’t like the book. I found the writing flat and exposition-heavy, and Mileva is portrayed as unrealistically flawless and selfless. Even when she’s angry about not getting credit for her ideas, it’s not for her own sake – it’s because she wanted the ideas to be a tribute to her daughter. It didn’t ring true for me, and I would have rooted for her more if she just wanted fame and recognition because she earnt them, dammit!

Challenge #10 – A book about a woman athlete

Trudy’s Big Swim by Sue Macy is a lovely picture book about Gertrude Ederle – the first woman to swim across the English Channel. It should appeal to a wide age range, as younger readers can enjoy the main story and illustrations, while older readers have background information such as sports timelines to read before and after the main story.

It’s an ideal book for sporty girls (and boys, of course). It’s full of fun little details like people on a boat singing songs to encourage Trudy, and passing her fried chicken in a net to keep her strength up. But it doesn’t try too hard to be a “kids’ story”, and the illustrations are realistic, with Trudy looking more like a real swimmer than a Disney princess.

Challenge # 15 – A book written by a South Asian author

It’s not hard to see why The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy won the Booker Prize in 1997. It’s just magic. Go read it!

It’s the story of Estha and Rahel – twins from a complicated family. It can be difficult to write from a child’s-eye view, but Roy manages it with aplomb. The minor characters are also fully formed, so that nobody is a hero or a straightforward villain (except perhaps the Orangedrink Lemondrink man, who is a POS).

There’s some very dark content in the story, but it’s told with wit, a surprising streak of scatological humour, and a real playfulness with language. The structure can be confusing at times, but a novel this rich is worth a few mental gymnastics.

Challenge # 12 – A Lambda Literary Award winner

I don’t read much hard sci-fi, but Autonomous: A Novel made me want to read more of it. Set in the 22nd century, the world-building is phenomenally detailed and imaginative. The future isn’t presented as a hellscape (people routinely live past 100 and eco-friendly technology is commonplace) but there are also some very Orwellian elements.

Some of the characters aren’t as fleshed out as the world they live in. Threezed’s sarcasm is “told” more often than shown, and I never understood why Eliasz got so hung up on being attracted to a male robot rather than a male robot. Is LGBT+ acceptance so crappy in the future that it’s seen as more acceptable to fancy robots than someone of the same gender?

Despite these flaws, this novel takes a brave stab at tackling huge issues like identity, capitalism and personal freedom, and it’s also just a damn good adventure story with great action scenes. Overall, I’d say I’m ending the 2019 Reading Women Challenge on a high.

Novellas: Why write them? Why read them?

As you already know if you’re a regular follower of my blog, I’m getting my novella, “The Misfortunes of Oscar Goldberg”, published in The Fantasist (though later than expected due to unforeseen delays). I’m really excited about it, so it’s a little annoying that when I tell my less bookish friends and acquaintances, their response is often “What’s a novella?”

To spare us all some potential embarrassment, I’ll just casually mention that a novella is a piece of fiction, somewhere between a short story and a novel in length. They are roughly 18,000-40,000 words.

Novellas are the overlooked middle children of the literary world. Novels are where the money’s at. They are the bestsellers and blockbusters. People queue up at midnight to get their hands on some of them. And short stories, nestled securely in literary magazines and winning prestigious prizes, generally get the respect they deserve.

So why aren’t more writers working on novellas? Why don’t these compact little books get the marketing attention that weightier tomes have? I’m a huge fan of novellas – from “The Call of the Wild” to “On Chesil Beach” and here are my reasons for writing and reading them.

Why write them?

  • Sometimes a novella is the perfect length for a project. If you have a storyline that is fairly slight, it may not be enough to sustain a novel, but could be just right for a novella. Novellas can also be great for stories that take place over limited timelines. “The Misfortunes of Oscar Goldberg” takes place over one night and one morning (plus a lot of flashbacks) and there just wasn’t enough narrative space to make it into a novel.
  • Writing a novella can be an ideal palate cleanser between bigger projects. If you’re writing a series of chunky, epic fantasy novels, writing a breezy, 20,000 word novella in between them could seem almost restful!
  • A novella could also be the perfect project for NaNoWriMo. Okay, so the goal is to write 50,000 words. But come on, what the hell is that? It’s too long for a novella, and most publishers would consider it too short for a novel. Realistically, it’s two thirds of a short novel or half of a long one. Instead of devoting the whole of November to manically writing half a first draft, why not dedicate it to writing a complete first draft of, say, a 30,000 word novella? More satisfying and less exhausting.

Why read them?

  • If you’re in a reading slump, novellas are ideal for pulling you out of it. When big, fat books look unappealing, an easily digestible novella can sharpen your appetite for books once again.
  • Novellas are useful books when it comes to taking a risk. If you’re not sure about a particular author, or you feel like trying a new genre, you may not want to commit to a long read. But a novella is less intimidating, and sometimes cheaper.
  • The best thing about novellas is that they are absolutely perfect for binge-reading. You can often finish one in an afternoon, or an evening. You can start one after dinner, read until you’re done, then look at the clock and realise it’s not 2am!