Five New Books You Can Read in a Weekend

March 21, 2017 Book Lists 37

New Books You Can Read in a Weekend


I’ve been on a short books kick recently and get really excited when I find tiny books that still pack a serious punch. The books on this list are all relatively new releases and are under 300 pages…short enough for you to read in a relatively plan-free weekend.

Five New Books You Can Read in a Weekend

A Separation, Katie MitamuraA Separation by Katie Kitamura
Fiction (Released February 7, 2017)
240 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Purchased (Publisher: Riverhead) 

A Separation has catastrophically been described as a “whodunit” (by Elle Magazine) and “the literary Gone Girl of 2017″ (by The Millions). It is NOT either of those things. It is, however, a gorgeously dark rumination on a troubled marriage. It’s most definitely a “style” book (i.e. don’t look for a fast-moving plot), but I immediately adored the narrator’s voice and tone. Kitamura, through the wife’s perspective, creates emotional tension that propels the story (much like Tender, one of my 2016 favorites). This book is not for everyone. But, try the first few pages…if the writing connects with you, then you should probably keep reading! 

What would be irrational would be to remain in this state of indecision, neither in nor out of the marriage, neither with nor free of this man. The sooner I was able to deliver myself from this situation the better, I could not remain beholden to two separate and antagonistic sets of expectation […]

All Grown Up, Jami AttenbergAll Grown Up by Jami Attenberg
Fiction (Released March 7, 2017)
208 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Publisher (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) 

All Grown Up is a raw, compact story of a young woman (Andrea) trying to find her way in the world, but it’s taking longer than society says it should. Attenberg uses little snapshots of Andrea’s life to share her struggles with being single in New York City (a situation I could relate to from years ago) and provide “yes, that’s exactly how it is” commentary on how society treats single ladies in their thirties. Andrea’s floundering is frustrating, but also relatable and endearing. What really made All Grown Up for me was the unexpectedly funny writing. It’s snarky and filled with the type of dry, morbid humor that’s not for everyone, but is for me. All Grown Up tackles the quarter-life crisis theme in a brutally honest rather than grating way (I’m looking at you, The Futures) and is one of my favorite books of 2017 so far!

People architect new lives all the time. I know this because I never see them again once they find these new lives. They have children or they move to new cities or even just to new neighborhoods or you hate their spouse or their spouse hates you or they start working the night shift or they start training for a marathon or they stop going to bars or they start going to therapy or they realize they don’t like you anymore or they die. It happens constantly. It’s just me. I haven’t built anything new. I’m the one getting left behind.

The Roanoke Girls, Amy EngelThe Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel
Fiction (Released March 7, 2017)
276 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Publisher (Crown) 

The Roanoke Girls features quite possibly the most dysfunctional (although, supremely F’d up is probably more accurate) family I’ve ever encountered in fiction. It’s the kind of book that I was slightly embarrassed to be reading, but was completely unable to put down. The extent to which Engel pushed the premise of this book is preposterous (think The Flowers in the Attic on steroids mixed with a bit of Sweet Home Alabama) and the characters’ decision-making is frustrating, but I was impressed with the writing and was even able to tolerate a bit of a love story (which is rare for me). It’s a fast, if not demented and twisted, read and would make a great vacation accessory.

I’ve been back in this house for less than an hour, and already I feel like I’m losing my mind, the Roanoke reality slithering into place. Where a tornado is a bit of wind or a missing woman is simply out having fun.

The Rules Do Not Apply, Ariel LevyThe Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy
Nonfiction – Memoir (Released March 14, 2017)
224 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Publisher (Random House) 

I immediately fell for the writing in this searing memoir of self-examination by a current New Yorker staff writer (also a native of my current town). Levy takes a brutally raw and honest look at her life including love, massive loss, and bad decisions. Her style is rambling – covering topics from crafting her career as a professional writer to gardening to covering the Caster Semenya story (the South African runner who was gender-tested at the 2009 Berlin World Championships) to her views on marriage in general and gay marriage specifically (she’s a lesbian) to infidelity to Mike Huckabee to late-in-life pregnancy – but it flows seamlessly. It’s a risky thing to market a book as “for readers of Cheryl Strayed” and, while I’m not putting Levy on equal footing with the giant, the comparison is not unfounded.

People have been telling me since I was a little girl that I was too fervent, too forceful, too much. I thought I had harnessed the power of my own strength and greed and love in a life that could contain it. But it has exploded.

Woman Next Door, Yewande OmotosoThe Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso
Fiction (Released February 7, 2017)
288 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Purchased (Publisher: Picador) 

The Woman Next Door was a fantastic surprise for me…and it’s likely to end up on my Underrated Gems of 2017 list. It’s like Grumpy Old Men crossed with Desperate Housewives set in South Africa and involving race. The story kicks off with snarky humor before taking a more contemplative turn. Two next door neighbors (Marion and Hortensia) can’t stand each other and are constantly plotting how to figuratively take the other one down, yet The Woman Next Door ends up being a story about friendship and regret and a lesson in how you never really know what’s going on in someone else’s life. Plus, the writing shines!

It wasn’t like Marion to give away such easy points but, while she was being generous, it was Hortensia’s aim to collect. Their rivalry was infamous enough for the other committee women to hang back and watch the show. It was known that the two women shared hedge and hatred and they pruned both with a vim that belied their ages.

What great books have you read in a weekend?

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37 Responses to “Five New Books You Can Read in a Weekend”

  1. Susie | Novel Visits

    I like that you focused on new books. I thought about including All Grown Up on my list, but since I haven’t reviewed it yet, decided not to. I guess I’m going to need to give The Woman Next Door another shot!

    • Sarah Dickinson

      Did try Woman?? I didn’t realize that!

      And – I’ve been trying to move away from full length reviews and more towards lists with short blurbs…I actually already had this list in progress when the TTT categories came out, so I shoved it in!

  2. Tara

    I think I’ve become rather spoiled with shorter novels, Sarah; I seem to have trouble getting through the ones I’ve been reading lately. These are fantastic recommendations; I still have A Separation and The Woman Next Door on my list; I think I’m going to go the audio route for The Rules Do Not Apply. Thanks for sharing these!

  3. AmberBug

    This is a great list! I need to start my 2017 reading (right after the Tournament of Books). I’ll have to check some of these out.

  4. Danica @ Shelves of Spines

    I love that all of these are new releases! I definitely want to check them all out. Thanks for sharing!

    Danica @ Shelves of Spines
    My Top 10

  5. lisa

    Off to find The Woman Next Door and All Grown Up (in spite of “People architect”????) THANKS–great list today!

  6. Greg

    I love it when I can get through a book in a weekend! Both All Grown Up and The Rules Do Not Apply sound interesting to me.

  7. Kate @ Parchment Girl

    I have ‘The Roanoke Girls’ and ‘A Separation’ on audio. I’m looking forward to both! I need something short and sweet after the long slog of ‘Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?’ (not good as an audiobook).

    • Sarah Dickinson

      I’d say go with Roanoke Girls if you need a fast-paced, easy read to get back after a slog. A Separation is great, but is more of a style book rather than plot. Sorry you’ve just had a slog…those are so annoying!

  8. Kathy @ Kathy Reads

    I’m waiting on all of these except All Grown Up. I don’t think it’s for me, even though I loved Saint Mazie. The others are waiting for me at the library when the hundreds of readers ahead of me return them.

    • Sarah Dickinson

      I had a feeling when I was reading it that it was definitely not a book for everyone, but I really loved it.

  9. Catherine

    All right, you’ve convinced me- I’ll give All Grown Up another try. I absolutely lived the single in NYC in my 30s life so I must not have given this a chance.

    Roanoke Girls- yikes! Agree completely on the WTF factor in this book and it’s a lightening fast read. I’m just not sure who to recommend it to- it needs the right reader.

    • Sarah Dickinson

      Haha – yay! However, I do think it’s a book that won’t appeal to everyone, but since you were single in NYC in your 30’s…it might resonate with you.

      And you’re so right about not knowing who to recommend Roanoke Girls to…it’s a nerve-wracking one!

  10. Naomi

    I thought at first you meant all 5 could be read in one weekend – ha! I just read one on the weekend that would be a perfect addition to this list, except that being new out in Canada might mean that it’s not available in the U.S. right now. I think it fits nicely into your category of “brain candy”. “Mitzi Bytes” by Kerry Clare.

  11. Jenny @ Reading the End

    I loved The Woman Next Door! And I’ve been thinking about trying A Separation, even though it’s not exactly my kind of book. I just read something by that author’s husband that was SO GOOD it made me want to read all adjacent books. :p

    • Sarah Dickinson

      Oh yay – I haven’t seen many others who have read it – glad to hear you have and loved it too! And who is Kitamura’s husband? Curious about what you read!

    • Sarah Dickinson

      Honestly, Roanoke Girls should probably scare you…ha! But, it’s just one of those books I liked even though I realized it would make me look super weird.

  12. diane

    My 2017 reading list is incredibly long and includes a couple of these books as well. I love your lists Sarah.

  13. Rory

    I enjoyed The Roanoke Girls, though I didn’t LOVE it or anything. However, my husband was asking about the book I was reading and I started telling him about it, and he was looking at me like I was out of my mind…

  14. Rochelle

    Am I one of the few people that actually did not enjoy All Grown Up? (Haha-wouldn’t be too surprised.) I thought the writing was witty and humorous at times, but I didn’t care for Andrea herself. I’m also trying to be more nuanced with enjoying the writing and hating the main character. I’m basically living in NYC, single and in my late 30s, but personally, I couldn’t relate to Andrea. I felt like she wasn’t doing anything with her life. She was in a well paying job but didn’t like it, and didn’t seem to be doing anything to change (same with drinking and men). I think what grated me was the fact that there seemed to be a lack of personal growth. If Attenberg didn’t divulge Andrea’s age, I wouldn’t have pegged her beyond 30.

    On another note, I am eager to get my hands on a copy of The Rules Do Not Apply!

    • Sarah Dickinson

      I totally understand your thoughts. As I was reading, I knew lots of people would have that reaction. And I did too in the beginning, but she grew on me. Also – dislikable characters don’t bother me in general.

  15. Katie @ Doing Dewey

    Ooh, The Rules Do Not Apply and The Woman Next Door both sound fantastic. I’ve also been finding it harder to prioritize sitting down and reading lately, so a fast weekend read might be just what I need 🙂

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