I’m not talking about relaxing summer books you read by the beach, drinking your Pina Colada on a straw mat, basking in the sun. These reads aren’t your typical summer books, they aren’t relaxing, but they are of a different type – incredibly interesting and mind blowing short stories you can read on a solo trip, on a yacht, or whenever you wish to date a book alone.
The reason why short stories are the best kinds of books for trips like these, is simply because they are short! If you’re like me, you feel the pain about starting a book and not being able to finish it, you worry for the characters, you imagine all sorts of endings, and basically your mind cannot sit still unless you finish the story! Short stories are much more satisfying, because you get the story from beginning to the end in a matter of minutes!
Here are THREE short story books I recommend for bringing on trips!
- Difficult Loves by Italo Calvino
- Laughable Loves by Milan Kundera
- Madness by Roald Dahl
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Three gluttonous burglars invade a pastry shop, a young clerk leaves a lady’s bed at dawn, a young woman is isolated from bathers on a beach by the loss of her bikini bottom, two children trespass upon a forbidden garden – each of them discovering hidden truths beneath the surface of everyday life.
This book explores the intricate interior worlds of ordinary people – their instincts, fears, impulses, desires. Why do people do certain unexplainable things? Life doesn’t make sense most of the time, but almost every time, things come together as if they are meant to be that way. Blending reality and illusion, this book is about cherished deceptions and illusions of love.
What I love most about this book is the way stories are told. By a stream of consciousness, you get into the heads of the characters who are telling the story. Suddenly you find yourself understanding the perverted desires of the soldier who could not contain his lust for a plump woman sitting beside him on the train (even though I myself, am a woman), suddenly you find yourself in the position of the woman who went swimming and lost her bathing suit in the sea. No matter how strange, how unbelievable, how terrible those thoughts are, they suddenly become believable, justifiable, and vulnerable to you, the reader. Such is the enigma of this brilliant book! (Did I mention how the vocabulary in this book makes you want to read every word and chew on it, slowly?)
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In one story, a young man and his girlfriend pretend she is a stranger he picked up on the road – only to become strangers in reality as their game proceeds. In another, a teacher fakes piety in order to seduce a devout girl, then jilts her and yearns for God. In yet another, girls wait in bars, on beaches and on station platforms for the same lover, a middle-aged Don Juan who has gone home to his wife.
Totally humourous and extraordinarily clever, the book is (again) about reality and illusions, and how very often we are stuck between the two, not knowing whether we are truly facing our realities or shrouded by fictions. Games, fantasies and schemes abound in the stories while different characters react to erotic impulses. These stories fill you with curiousity as you read, and always surprises you with an illuminating ending. One of my favourite stories in this collection, is the The Hitchhiking Game, it is about the dangers of role playing and games in relationships, and you’ll have to read to find out!
Last of all, Milan Kundera is one of my favourite authors of all time. Other books I highly recommend are The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and Immortality. Kundera is really the master of interwoven parallel storylines that are unrelated, but intersect meaningfully in some way or another.
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Last of all, we have Madness by Roald Dahl. In this book, you’ll meet the husband with a jealous fixation on the family cat, the landlady who wants her guests to stay forever, and then man whose taste for pork leads him astray and the wife with a pathological fear of being late.
A little different from the rest of my selection, this book is about fear and unreason. Strange impulses and uncertainties grow in the stories, ending with unexplainable actions and well, madness. These are ten unsettling tales of unexpected madness as Roald Dahl explores what happens when we let go of sanity.
Have you ever imagined what we would be like, what we would do, had we no rules in society? If we had always acted according to our instincts and impulses, what would be of our lives now? It is definitely a very interesting question to ponder and these stories, although short, will leave you feeling like a very different person.