Reading a book is one of the simplest and most beautiful ways to spend your time, especially now our lives demand so many hours with eyes locked to a screen. When your to-do list is as long as your arm, taking time out to read a truly feel-good book can be luxurious! That's why we've trawled the best of Amazon and Waterstones for our favourite books to enjoy between Friday night and Sunday evening.
From titles by Toni Morrison to Adam Kay and Naoise Dolan — we've picked our top 10 with the aim of recommending you quick, easy, and satisfying reads. Whether they're short novels by famous authors you worried you'd never surmount, or new release debuts by talked about young writers, there should be something for everyone here.
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Table of Contents
Let's start with the basics. Think about what you fancy reading this weekend; something based in fact or an adventure of imagination? Obviously, both are great, but there are some distinct differences.
Often works of fiction can take longer to digest and may be more descriptively dense, meaning they tend to be suited to reading over an entire weekend with no other big commitments, or even a week or more.
Non-fiction, on the other hand, sticks to the facts and is usually less descriptive, so they're usually able to be dipped in and out of. We've done our best to find quickly digestible books of both kinds in our ranking.
Our recommendations include new release books along with a few older novels that have gained a reputation and are well on their way to 'classic' status. Getting to know a classic can be a worthwhile way to spend your weekend, as can reading a book that's at the cutting edge of our cultural moment.
Decide while shopping whether you'd like to find a beloved book from a world-renowned author or to sample some newer writing, perhaps even a debut from a younger writer. The choice is yours!
Among our picks you'll find a few different genres we think are best suited to weekend reading. Crime thrillers, for instance, are natural page-turners, with plot twists abounding from chapter to chapter. The very nature of a thriller keeps you intrigued to know where the story will go next, meaning you're likely to finish it quicker!
Other genres that can be easily enjoyed in a weekend are laid-back literary fiction and memoirs. Celebrity autobiographies are a good choice as they tend to be heavy on action and light on gratuitous adjectives!
Likewise, diary-style memoirs and real-life stories of struggle and survival in different walks of life are also great for a couple of days of reading. They not only offer page-turning action and plenty of interesting characters, but they allow you to immerse yourself in an extraordinary perspective or situation.
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Take a look at which formats the book is available in — paperbacks are lightweight and convenient to hold when reading. They are also much more flexible and comfortable when you're tearing (not literally!) through its pages on the settee.
Unfortunately, sometimes new releases only come out in hardcover versions, which are slightly more expensive than paperback versions. But how else are you going to join the debate on some of the most talked-about debut writing of the year?
Another benefit of hardback books is the fact they make beautiful gifts, look great on your shelves or coffee table and are likely to stay in good condition for longer.
Looking for a place to display your ever-expanding book collection? Here are the Best Bookcases!
For many devoted book lovers, the thought of a digital version is utter sacrilege — but if you're short on storage space or want to take your book outside or on a weekend trip — you may want to see if your chosen title can be downloaded to your eReader.
Sadly this style of reading doesn't free you from the stresses of the screen, but it does avoid the bookworm's dilemma of a to-read pile that expands from the living room shelf to the bathroom! For those who are often on the go and like to listen to stories via headphones, many books now come in audiobook or CD format too.
The daily commute is the perfect time to squeeze in some reading — check out the Best eReaders!
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If I Had Your Face
A Much-Talked About Debut Novel Exploring Contemporary Seoul
Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots
A Fascinating Memoir Exploring Life as a Hasidic Jew in New York
The One Everyone's Been Talking About
The Bluest Eye
A Must-Read Novel from a Nobel Prize Winning Author
This Is Going to Hurt
Multi-Million Selling Diaries of a Junior Doctor
A Compulsive and Gasp-Heavy Thriller
Postcards From the Edge
Carrie Fisher's Wry Fictionalised Memoir
Convenience Store Woman
A Deadpan Ode to Rejecting Social Expectations
A Dark, Sensory Tale Set in 18th Century Paris
Bestselling Return to the Characters From Call Me By Your Name
With all the buzz that surrounded its debut, this book a great choice if you love to whizz through a book in a weekend, then chat about it with others come Monday. Exploring female friendship, cosmetic surgery, and the themes of beauty and patriarchy in South Korea, this book is easy to follow and irresistible to discuss.
Frances Cha paints contemporary Seoul in all its dazzling neon glory and creates characters that allow her to examine what it means to be an attractive young woman in South Korea today. A vital feminist read in a world where men still pay to sit next to pretty women and no one ever talks about the Kardashians' original faces.
This book first came out in 2012 but has seen a resurgence in popularity since the release of the Netflix Original series Unorthodox, which was critically acclaimed (we highly recommend it too, if you haven't already watched it!)
The book is a detailed account of Deborah Feldman's experience as part of the Hasidic community in Williamsburg, Manhattan. It's written with wit and a buoyant turn of phrase that makes it easy to read and devour in a couple of days. Sensitively told, it's packed with interesting insights into a little-documented community.
It's perhaps trite to say young Irish writers are sparkling lately, but with the success of Sally Rooney's Normal People and the rise of Caroline O'Donaghue, it's not far off the mark. Naoise Dolan is hailed as one of Ireland's brightest young authors and the only way to find out whether you agree is to zoom through a copy of her much-talked-about debut over a weekend.
The main character in Exciting Times is Ava, who lives in Hong Kong but hails from Dublin, and considers love to be little more than a functional transaction. The short, blunt sentences are what make this a time-efficient read while at the same time adding to the wry, withering humour that sets it apart.
This book is one of those that stays with you long after you've read it. If you've been meaning to read Toni Morrison, this is an excellent place to start, being both one of her most loved and lauded works and a relatively quick read that is somehow expressive, complex and comfortable to follow at the same time.
The main character Pecola dreams of having blue eyes like her white classmates, and the various characters in this book struggle through some deeply disturbing episodes which pay poetic tribute to the relentless suffering of black people in the US. Magically written and hard to put down.
We reckon you'll race through this hilarious and touching book, which is pretty timely now that we're all prouder than ever of our NHS. If snot-laughing and ugly-crying are your favourite reading moods, this book will give you great reasons to do more of both.
After 12 years of studying and working in hospitals, Adam Kay faced tragedy in his senior role within obstetrics and gynaecology — and decided to leave what had been a health-ravaging, social-life-destroying, heart-breaking job and share the trials and chuckles in this tender memoir. With the recent BBC adaptation, there's never been a better time to enjoy this book.
Another more typical page-turner for our list — this newly released crime thriller is one you'll power through in one sitting if you're a seasoned speed-reader, while it'll last closer to a weekend for the rest of us. This book is packed with believable dialogue and precise, powerful descriptions.
Magpie Lane begins as Scottish nanny Dee is questioned by police on the disappearance of voluntarily mute, 8-year-old Felicity. It then leads us through the lives of the child's father, his beautiful new wife, an eccentric scholar named Dr. Linklater, and even Dee herself. An eerie and cleverly plotted tale.
This is basically Carrie Fisher's personal memoir, disguised as fiction. It's dry, pithy and witty; you can really hear Carrie's husky, disdainful tone in a lot of the dialogue and diary-style prose.
Divided into postcard-style vignettes, the story is told from a few different perspectives. From the drug user drowning in denial whose bag of cocaine explodes across his running bath, to the Hollywood starlet, as she grits her teeth through career desperation and toe-curling showbiz parties.
This super-brief read has been popular with critics because of its eccentric portrayal of a close to universal experience; the sensation of being an outsider. Funny and hard to resist, this story sees two outcasts considering the benefits of teaming up to appease the judgmental world around them.
As it's one of the shorter books on our list at just 160 pages, the faster readers among you might manage this in as little as a day. For a gentler pace, though, reading it over the weekend would be perfect. A clever investigation of what it means to fit in, and the pitfalls of refusing to do so.
This is one of those books people have been telling you to read for years and when you eventually pick it up, you'll see it's a page-turner of substantial proportions (don't worry, it's actually only 272 pages long). Add it to your to-read list as soon as you can!
Patrick Suskind creates a properly sinister protagonist, the perfumer Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, who has no personal odour (told you he was creepy) but boy, can he smell stuff. Alive with the stench of humanity across every page, this book is gloriously gross at moments and divine at others. Through some grim twists and turns, this book races towards a horrifying climax.
This bestselling paperback sees the return of the characters Oliver and Elio, whose blossoming love was the subject of Aciman's previous novel which became an Oscar-winning film. The characters don't actually meet until the brief coda at the book's end, but instead, experience their own love stories in this novel of three parts.
If you're willing to believe romance can bloom on a short-lived train journey and can invest in a world where every character quotes classical philosophy like they're reciting the alphabet —this ravishing whirl through the streets of Rome is quick to read and hard to forget.
Written and researched by Annie Hopkins
No. 1: Frances Cha｜If I Had Your Face
No. 2: Deborah Feldman｜Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots
No. 3: Naoise Dolan｜Exciting Times
No. 4: Toni Morrison｜The Bluest Eye
No. 5: Adam Kay｜This Is Going to Hurt
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