Books you can read in a weekend: 'All Grown Up,' 'The Sense of An Ending,' more


Everyone loves a long, immersive novel you can sink into for weeks at a time — witness the popularity of heavy-hitters such as Donna Tartt’s “The Goldfinch” or Garth Risk Hallberg’s “City on Fire.” But sometimes you just need a quick fiction hit — a slim, satisfying novel you can read in a weekend and then move on. Here are eight recommendations, all fewer than 200 pages long.

'All Grown Up,' by Jami Attenberg

"All Grown Up" by Jami Attenberg (Houghton Mifflin
(Credit: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

The author of “The Middlesteins” has hit her stride with this novel-in-stories about single life in New York — call it “Girls” for late 30- and 40-somethings. The trenchant voice of Andrea Bern, erstwhile MFA painting student turned well-paid professional, joins a club of wry, intelligent narrators fashioned by writers such as Lorrie Moore, Julie Hecht and Heidi Julavits: anti-romantic yet warm, independent but deeply attached to her mother, self-deprecating but always hopeful about the possibilities. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25) 

'Ghachar Ghochar,' by Vivek Shanbhag

"Ghachar Ghochar" by Vivek Shanbhag (Penguin, February 2017)
(Credit: Penguin)

The title of this deft, abbreviated novel from India is a made-up phrase coined by one of its characters, meaning something that is hopeless knotted or tangled. That would refer to the family of the narrator, once poor and living in a dark Bangalore cottage overrun by ants, now elevated to the upper middle class by the successful spice business of an unmarried uncle. In India, as in all nations, money brings complications and internecine conflict. Translated from the Kannada by Srinath Perur. (Penguin, $15 paper)

'Mothering Sunday,' by Graham Swift

"Mothering Sunday" by Graham Swift (Vintage)
(Credit: Vintage)

This deliciously sly book about the strictures of class in England and the passing of old traditions, opens on a hot spring day in 1924, as young housemaid Jane Fairchild conducts a clandestine tryst with the engaged-to-be-married scion of a neighboring estate while all the family and servants have vacated for the titular holiday. At once frankly sexual and philosophical, the novel burrows deep into Jane’s consciousness, uncovering the intelligence and perceptiveness that will one day transform her life. (Vintage, $15 paper)



'The Private Life of Mrs Sharma,' by Ratika Kapur

“The Private Life of Mrs. Sharma” by Ratika
(Credit: Bloomsbury)

Mrs. Sharma, a medical receptionist in New Delhi, is overworked, underappreciated and lonely. Her husband works overseas; she lives with their rebellious teenage son in his parents’ tiny apartment. Against this unhappy backdrop, she meets a nice younger man on the metro. What’s a mother to do? She shares all her thoughts, impulsive choices and rationalizations in this intimate, funny and shocking confession. (Bloomsbury, $16 paper) 

'The Sense of an Ending,' by Julian Barnes

“The Sense of an Ending” by Julian Barnes
(Credit: Vintage)

Both a meditation on aging and regret and an intense psychological drama, Barnes’ story revolves around a 60ish man who is surprised to learn he has inherited a diary kept by a school friend who committed suicide some years ago. This fact alone calls into question his memories of his past, and things only get murkier as he tries to wrest the diary from an ex-girlfriend who got to it first. (Vintage, $15 paper) 

'Dept. of Speculation,' by Jenny Offill

"Dept. of Speculation" by Jeny Offill (Vintage, 2014)
(Credit: Vintage)

An appealing, elegant and relatable book about love, marriage, early motherhood and infidelity, written as a journal in short, luminous paragraphs. Facing not just the sorrow of her husband’s betrayal, but also bedbugs and stalled literary ambitions — you guessed it, we’re in Brooklyn — “the wife,” as she calls herself, is sustained by her wry sense of humor and her intellectual curiosity. (Vintage, $15 paper) 

'We the Animals,' by Justin Torres

"We the Animals" by Justin Torres (Mariner, 2011)
(Credit: Mariner)

Told by a narrator growing up in a dead-end town with two older brothers, a dad who’s abusive when he’s around and an adored, overwhelmed mom who works nights at the brewery, this coming-of-age story gets its power from shimmering, image-rich language and the rough-and-tumble energy of its action. As the narrator begins to realize he is gay, the claustrophobic bonds of this family cannot hold. (Mariner, $12.95 paper)

'The Reluctant Fundamentalist,' by Mohsin Hamid

"The Reluctant Fundamentalist" by Moshin Hamid (Mariner 2007)
(Credit: Mariner)

A Pakistani man, sitting in a cafe in Lahore, addresses this story over tea to a mysterious American — and by extension to the reader — in an indelible novel by the author of “Exit West." Changez recalls his education at Princeton (one of two Pakistanis in his class), his job at a boutique Manhattan financial firm and his romance with a privileged young woman from the Upper East Side. And then the events of Sept. 11, 2001, alter Changez’s position in America — and his most firmly held beliefs. (Mariner, $14.95 paper)



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