We still have a few weeks left in the year, which means you might still have a chance to finish however many books you need to hit your reading goal. Or, at least fit a few more in. And there are a lot of great ways to do that. You can read some graphic novels or comics, a few novellas, children’s books, plays. All of them count towards your reading goal, and there are some really great options in each category.
But, today, I thought I’d share some of the adult books I really enjoyed that are both diverse and under 200 pages. I think there’s some really great representation in the list below. There are books with LGBTQ+ characters, characters of color, and disabled characters. Most of these authors are also LGBTQ+ or persons of color. And two of them are even translated.
These are perfect options if you want to read more diverse books this year (and you should) and also pick up something really short so you can fit in a few more books before the end of the year.
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
I can not say enough good things about this series. Easily one of my all-time favorites, and one that reminded me of why I love fantasy so much. This is the first book in the Wayward Children series, which is about children who have traveled to different worlds (like Narnia), but came back and have to learn to live with no longer being on the other side of their door. There are plenty of amazing queer characters in this series, and I love them all. There are also another four (very short) books in this series, so you can just binge-read them all before the sixth one comes out next year. I think I’ve read all of them in just a few hours each. Easy way to increase your read count for this year!
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
If you’re more into sci-fi than fantasy, I highly recommend this one. It’s so, so good. I finished it over the course of a lunch break at work, so it probably took me just about an hour to read. And I was absolutely blown away by what Nnedi Okorafor accomplished in less than a hundred pages. This feels like a whole novel with it’s own intricate world. It’s absolutely brilliant. And it’s actually a trilogy, so you can definitely continue with the other two books (though I liked this one the best).
The Hole by Hye-Young Pyun
I had never heard of this book when I picked it up. And, honestly, I wasn’t sure I liked it all that much until I got almost to the end. I think it was mostly my fault because I was expecting a thriller, and this was more a quiet, slow kind of thriller. The ones that aren’t scary, but just kind of eerie and creepy. But it grew on me, and I ended up really enjoying it. I’m honestly still thinking about it. It’s translated from Korean, and it definitely gave me major Korean thriller vibes (which I didn’t realize was a thing until I read this). It kind of reminded me of The Vegetarian by Han Kang (thought I liked this one better) and Parasite. Really good, subtly creepy, and wonderfully weird. If you liked Parasite, you need to read this.
The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle
This is more supernatural creepy thriller. It’s super weird, but I was kind of expecting that having already read Victor LaValle’s The Changeling. But wow, this book exceeded my expectations for creepy. But more than being a supernatural thriller, this book is a great commentary on racial relations in America. For being set in turn-of-the-century New York, it felt oddly relevant to the discussion happening in 2020. And I really enjoyed it.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
He was the editor of French Elle when, in 1995, Bauby suffered a massive stroke and was left completely paralyzed. He suffered what is known as “locked-in syndrome”. He could not speak or move. And it kind of blows my mind that he published this book less than three years later. Because he wrote his entire memoir by blinking his left eye. His assistant would read out the alphabet, and he would blink. And that’s how he told his story. It’s unbelievably inspiring and one of the best testaments to the human spirit I have ever come across.
The Reason I Jump: The Innner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism by Naoki Higashida
Translated from Japanese, this is the memoir of a thirteen-year-old boy with autism. He explains how he views the world, why he reacts to things the way he does, and just how the world makes sense to him. I honestly think it’s something everyone should read. I came away from it with a newfound sense of empathy for those who are neurodiverse. They may be different, but that does not make them any less human, or any less valuable. And this book does an absolutely brilliant job of illustrating that.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
I’m sure you’ve heard of this book, in which Ta-Nehisi Coates explores issues of racism in a letter to his son. If I’m being totally honest, it didn’t impact me personally as much as I was expecting, but it’s still a really valuable book. If you want to educate yourself against racism (which everyone should), this is a great addition to that reading list. It’s a short read that explores both history and the racial issues of the past and how we are facing those same issues now. If you haven’t read this yet, I would definitely recommend adding it to your TBR.
Heart Berries by Therese Marie Mailhot
This is the coming-of-age memoir of a woman who grew up on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation. It’s about her identity, but also about her struggles with mental health – namely, post traumatic stress disorder and bipolar II disorder. She is given a notebook to write her way out of her trauma, and this memoir is the result. It’s just really raw and beautiful, and such a great memoir.
The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
I have no idea why I let this sit on my shelves so long before reading it, but I was pleasantly surprised when I finally did. This is a memoir about the exploration of sexuality, experiences with fluid sexuality, and creating a family. The author explores her relationship with a fluidly gendered partner, her pregnancy journey, and her experiences starting her family. As a cisgendered straight person, I really value books like these that teach me about the experiences of others and what they’ve had to go through in life.
A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea by Masaji Ishikawa
In this memoir, Masaji Ishikawa describes his experience escaping from North Korea. He had to leave everything in search of a better life. He also talks about his life in North Korea, where he was never really accepted because he was half Japanese. What he had to go through is heartbreaking, but it’s also inspiring to know what he overcame. I don’t think any of us will ever be able to fully understand what he went through in search of a better life, but I do think it’s important that we learn his story.
That’s it for this list! I hope you found something great to add to your TBR, and maybe something to add to your reading list for this month!
Have you read any of these books? Are there any you would add to this list?