books to read
These books are short, easy and digestible for the busy student. Source: Stephane De Sakutin/AFP

It can feel hard to find time to read. Much of this has to do with the time spent working, studying, learning new materials, and getting coursework done — and that’s not to count the other busy aspects of life.

Plus, finding books to read in a short time can seem impossible. Many best-sellers tend to be hundreds of pages long, requiring a level of mental commitment and time that most of us, with our busy schedules, can’t afford to spare. 

This is a trend that’s common the world over. A study found that in the US, reading for leisure among Americans is at an all-time low, falling by more than 30% since 2004. Another found that many young people tend to read out of obligation rather than pleasure, predominantly due to the influx of platforms that generate short-term gratification, such as social media apps. 

The amount of distraction that we are faced with, then, means that a slower, more arduous task such as leisure reading may seem like a burden. Still, the benefits gained of reading for pleasure are profound: studies have shown that it is an effective way to manage stress by increasing enjoyment and relaxation, as well as being good for your brain and cognitive development.

The solution: Short books to read

If you find yourself too busy to read long books but are still looking for the rush of pleasure that comes with finishing a good story, you’re in luck. There are many books to read under 250 pages that are easy and digestible — perfectly reasonable to complete within the span of a few hours. 

More than that, many of these books are insightful and emotive — giving you the chance to indulge in a meaningful story. An added bonus to this? You’ll be giving your eyes a break from the screens and documents that you’ve been looking at all day. 

Here are some books to read under 250 pages that you can consider: 

Open Water by Caleb Azunah Nelson

This love story is short, sweet, and profound. In this novel, two young characters meet in a pub in South East London and find that they have many things in common. Both are Black British, won scholarships to private schools where they struggled to fit in, and are struggling artists — he a photographer, she a dancer. 

The story follows these two young individuals as they tentatively fall in love and the challenges they face along the way. It’s only 145 pages long — making it easy to complete in one sitting. 

Dead Poets Society by NH Kleinbaum

If you’re studying for a degree in the arts, you’ve surely heard of this piece of literature — or at least the famous saying “Carpe diem” which Latin for “seize the day.” It was adapted from a film of the same name, in which Robin Williams stars in one of his most memorable performances. 

Set in 1959 at a fictional elite boarding school, the book follows an English teacher who inspires his students through poetry. Moved, his students go on to resurrect the Dead Poets Society — a secret club where they are able to express their passions without fear of being constrained by the school and their parents. 

The book captures the characters and message of the film perfectly — making it a must-read for arts, and especially English, students. It is only 166 pages long. 

best books to read

Too busy? Find short books to read. Source: Michael M. Santiago/AFP

There are many short books to choose from if you don’t have the time to spare. Source: Michael M. Santiago/AFP

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” stands among one of the best books to read for young adults today. It’s an epistolary, which means it’s written in the format of letters, but this doesn’t remove the reader from the intimacy and profoundness of the characters within its pages — rather, it does the opposite. 

At its core, the book is about growing up in high school. It’s told by high schooler Charlie, who navigates the terrors and joys of making new friends, first dates, family dramas, mixed tapes, and more. It’s a powerful coming-of-age story that every student will be able to relate to, no matter where in your life journey you are.