According to Nielsen Holdings, the average length of a Super Bowl broadcast is 3 hours and 35 minutes. We’ve rounded up nine novels, novellas, and chapbooks you can read in less time than it takes to watch the biggest game of the year.
Families Among Us by Blake Kimzey
Blake Kimzey’s collection of stories can probably be read in the time it takes to get to the second quarter. Small and special, the characters in these six stories sprout wings and slither. They grow snouts, claws, and fur. Kimzey’s stories have been called, “beautifully written universes” and they are exactly that. Take a Super Bowl break and enjoy this wonderful little chapbook.
An Elegy for Mathematics by Anne Valente
Anne Valente’s recent story collection By Light We Knew Our Names is one of the best books we read last year and her chapbook, An Elegy for Mathematics, is just as special. Valente’s prose takes us to fantastic worlds in thirteen beautiful short stories. The perfect Super Bowl oasis from Origami Zoo Press.
Together Apart by Ben Hoffman
Together Apart is another beautiful chapbook from Origami Zoo Press. Ben Hoffman won the press’s first-ever chapbook contest. The characters in his collection are constantly grappling with the difference between their desires and the realities they are presented with. It is in this impossible, transitional space that Hoffman’s stories flourish. Duck out of the game and enjoy this little gem.
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
The book came before the movie and in our opinion has more to offer. In this creepy zombie/end-of-the-earth/vampire novella, a man is left alone to deal with dangerous changlings that emerge at night. Stephen King and Dean Kootz have both cited I Am Legend as a major inspiration for their work. It was considered a groundbreaking story for its time and is one that inspired an entire zombie and vampire movement in literature.
Sleep Donation by Karen Russell
In less time than it takes to get to the halftime show, transport yourself with Karen Russell’s novella about an insomnia epidemic turned deadly. In this story, Russell’s protagonist, Trish, works for an organization called Slumber Corps, traveling the country telling the story of her sister’s death in hopes of gather “sleep donations” from healthy sleepers. In our review of the novella Sadye Teiser writes: “…we may be alone in our dreams, but as Sleep Donation shows us, we are useless without them.”
A Familiar Beast by Panio Gianopoulous
Publisher Nouvella books describes this title as: “In the wake of an affair that has cost him his marriage and career, Marcus is a lost man. Desperate for reprieve from his loneliness and regret, he accepts an invitation to go to the outskirts of North Carolina and visit Edgar, an old high school classmate burdened with mysterious troubles of his own. In Edgar’s beautiful, empty home, their separate sorrows draw Marcus into a series of unnerving situations, culminating in a proposed deer hunt.” It’s a wonderful read and the perfect way to spend an afternoon.
We Have Always Lived in The Castle by Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson’s novel about the Blackwood sisters who live in isolation on the outskirts of town is a mysterious tale about a dark family secret. This scary story is quick and complex, and will keep you on your toes throughout. You won’t soon forget the agoraphobic Constance and the increasingly volatile Merricat.
Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer
Annihilation begs to be read. Vandeermeer’s story about Area X, which has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decade, begins with four women who are part of an expedition to provide information on this strange land. An anthropologist, surveyor, psychologist, and biologist must gather data and avoid contamination if they hope to return home. Annihilation is the first in a trilogy of stories that are impossible to put down.
Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner
Ben Lerner’s book about a young poet in Madrid is a difficult title to summarize, simply because nothing suffices to capture just how special it is. This much-awarded short novel is a funny and poignant meditation on the arts. James Woods says: “Lerner is attempting to capture something that most conventional novels, with their cumbersome caravans of plot and scene and ‘conflict,’ fail to do: the drift of thought, the unmomentous passage of undramatic life. . . .” Need we say more?