Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: Books That I’ve Binge-Read in 24 Hours (That You Probably Could Too)

By: Breanna Patterson

Oh, the joys of a book that you can blow through in a single day. It’s magical how some writers can drag you into their work and make you completely unwilling to put their piece down. In the spirit of “a bit of light reading,” as my beloved Hermione Granger would say, here are 10 books that you can read in a single day (probably).

1. A Clockwork Orange, By Anthony Burgess – So we’re starting off strong–and weird. In all honesty, I’m already cheating with the whole “24-hour-read” qualifier because I started this book, got used to the writing style, and then started it again the next day. This one can be a tough read for some because Burgess writes in a language that he has created himself (a combination of Russian, Latin, and English). For this reason, however, I found this book completely immersive and promptly devoured his piece in a single sitting. The plot is riveting, the characters are so despicable that you don’t want to stop following them around, and the ending left me staring up at the ceiling wondering if “right” and “wrong” is socially constructed. A Clockwork Orange is a master work for anyone that wants to exist in a dystopian society for a day.

2. Watchmen, By Alan Moore – I know that there is a weird stigma around graphic novels, but hear me out. The graphic novel is a beloved genre of mine because it stimulates my love for both literature and art simultaneously – although I will admit that when I read graphic novels in public I do feel like I should be wearing a “kick me” sign to complete the aesthetic (look at the picture below to get a complete understanding of this visual). This being said, Watchmen (if you buy the version of the graphic novel that has the faux newspaper articles between the sections) is one of the most dynamic storylines that a person could get through in a single day. I read this book on the beach and was so immersed in the plotline that I didn’t even notice that my shoulders were getting fried. Worth it, totally worth it.

3. “Consider the Lobster,” By David Foster Wallace – This is actually an essay, not a book, so it only took me about 45 minutes to blow through. However, this piece is on this list because, after reading it once, I found myself picking it up again and again throughout the day. Wallace leaves the questions that he poses in this piece unanswered, forcing his readers to mull over the content of his work long after his essay’s conclusion. The day that I read this essay, I actually ended up reading it all the way through three times. Therefore, I believe that “Consider the Lobster” is an essay that deserves an entire day for a reader to fully digest (Get it? “Digest”? Whatever.)

4. The Gathering, By Anne Enright – I fully admit that it may not be feasible for everyone to finish this book in a single sitting. However, if you are able to endure the emotional ups and downs of Enright’s novel within a 24-hour period, I suggest that you do. This book played upon my own understandings of femininity, masculinity, family ties, death, and sexuality all within a single plotline. By the end of the day, I have never felt so immensely satisfied or emotionally drained. I would consider it to be a “must read” for those interested in Irish Literature.

5. Let’s Pretend this Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir), By Jenny Lawson

This memoir begins with:

“Call me Ishmael. I won’t answer to it, because it’s not my name, but it’s much more agreeable than most of the things I’ve been called. ‘Call me “that-weird-chick-who-says-‘fuck’-a-lot”’ is probably more accurate, but ‘Ishmael’ seems classier, and it makes a way more respectable beginning than the sentence I’d originally written, which was about how I’d just run into my gynecologist at Starbucks and she totally looked right past me like she didn’t even know me.”

That’s fucking hysterical. I’m cry-laughing right now while trying to write the concluding sentence for this segment of the article. If you read that quote and didn’t laugh, then you’re a soulless human being and I’m not taking it back.

6. A Room of One’s Own, By Virginia Woolf – If you’re in the mood for a feminist reawakening, consider yourself woke. Okay, that was a little awkward to write, but I think that the sentiment is coming from a good place. In the middle of my first wave of Women and Gender Studies classes in college, I was told to read this book and it basically took my experiences as a woman and re-explained them back to me. It was enlightening, the emotions that it stirred up were chaotic, and I’ll love Woolf forever after this read. Hopefully, you’ll feel the same way.

7. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, By Sherman Alexie – Alexie’s book is absolutely delightful. It’s a coming-of-age story about a young boy growing up on an Indian reservation as he navigates his own heritage versus the impact of the dominant culture within contemporary America. The book is loosely based on the author’s life and comes complete with pictures (yay!). I would highly recommend it for someone who wants a taste of the amazing genre that is Native American literature.

8. 50 Shades of Grey, By E.L. James – I’m not proud. It was crap, pure crap. If I remember correctly it was the week after Valentine’s Day and I was feeling… vulnerable? Yeah, let’s go with that. The plot is an adult version of the Twilight series and the sex scenes were enough to make me question everything that I thought I knew about about male-female power dynamics, but I did blow through it in a single day. And when I sat down at dinner that night and my mom asked me what I had been doing in my room since breakfast I had to reply with a shrill, “Nothing!” before promptly changing the subject.

9. Holidays on Ice, By David Sedaris – Of course Sedaris deserves a place on this list. Honestly, this list could have just been 10 of his books and me pleading with you to read all of his work (actually that would have been hysterical… next time.) The issue with this choice is that it seems like I’m putting a premium on Holidays on Ice but really, I just want for you to get some Sedaris in your life. I think that this collection is a good choice for a first time reader of this author because it was one of his first published works. In one book of short stories you get Christmas whores, gay elves, and babies that go for a tumble in the dryer for the first (and last) time. You’re welcome.

10. The Complete Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, By A.A. Milne – I’m a big fan of Winnie the Pooh. I’m actually singing the theme song in my head as I write this. When life beats you down, there is no where else to go, and you feel like the literature that you’re reading is more of a strain on your psyche than a labor of love, I’ll always turn to my willy nilly silly old bear. Am I a 22-year-old woman seeking comfort in a yellow teddy bear that can’t keep the fluff in his overstuffed tummy? Maybe. But I’ll be damned if you don’t feel a little better about life after reading The Complete Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.

So, next time that you have a free day, pick up any of these 10 books. There is a power in reading a piece in a single day, a cathartic release that comes from experiencing an entire plot in such a small amount of time. Few are aware of the power of a 24-hour-read, but now you are no longer one of them! Read on, my brothers and sisters, read on.

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