What are your reading habits like? Do you “binge-read” in the same sense that we binge-watch television shows, reading from cover to cover without interruption? Or does embarking upon a novel seem like such an undertaking that you put it off indefinitely until you end up never reading at all?
Even if you don’t have enough hours in your day to devote to long-form reading, you can carve out a few minutes for more bite-sized reading sessions that fit neatly into your busy schedule and leave you with a sense of accomplishment and closure. Instead of thinking of single books as mountains to conquer, consider some of the best books to read every day in short but regular installments.
Lost in the Cosmos
The market is awash in self-help books. Consider instead what author Walker Percy calls “the last self-help book,” Lost in the Cosmos. Beneath what first appears to be a mocking satire of the self-help industry lies an earnest attempt to help its readers find their way in a world that ranges from hostile to indifferent. Its series of quizzes and experiments are worth visiting—and revisiting—on a daily basis.
Maybe you haven’t revisited the Good Book since your days in Sunday school. Reapproaching the Bible as something you want to read rather than something you have to read could give you a fresh perspective on what amounts to one of the most formative pieces of literature in the Western canon. The books and chapters of the Bible make it particularly well-suited to short-form daily reading sessions, with opportunities not only for daily reflection but also study strategies such as journaling or verse-mapping. Don’t feel obligated to read in a linear fashion, however. You can tailor each day’s reading selection to your mood, the challenges you’re facing, or some of your old favorites—just as long as you do the reading.
Short Story Anthologies
In our thirst for page-turning novels, it’s all too easy to forget about the intricate craftsmanship of short literary fiction. Great short stories of the kind that appear in publications like The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and Granta are among the most intellectually nourishing fiction one can read, compressing all the elements of a story into a small space with no fluff, no wasted verbiage, and no diversions. If you don’t want to take your chances on a literary journal’s monthly or quarterly selections, the annual Best American Short Stories anthology is one of the best books you can read every day, presenting twenty of each year’s very best. At about three weeks per volume and years of volumes to choose from, a short story a day will give you plenty of time to get caught up.