Every time I run myself a bath and climb in with a book in hand, I’m like WHY THE FUCK DO I NOT DO THIS MORE OFTEN? I think the answer is “time” and “not having enough of it” but damnit I better start making the time. A couple years back, my fiancé got me one of those wooden extendable bathtub trays so I can chill with my iced coffee, my sparkling water, my phone, a scented candle, maybe even a small snack, and a book. It feels like being in a luxury spa, and I can’t recommend it enough, especially if you like to read in the bath. And while I’ve been known to lug a large hardcover into the tub with me, I’ve come to realize what constitutes the perfect bathtime book: It isn’t something sudsy, something light and fluffy content-wise. It’s a book that’s literally physically light, one that can potentially be read in a single sitting. The perfect bath time book is right around 200 pages or less.
This largely constitutes books branded as novellas, but some slim novels also come in around 200 pages. While I’m not officially putting it on the list, I feel compelled to mention the horror novelette (even shorter than a novella!) I wrote myself, which is small, square, and pink, making for a very good bath photo if you ask me!!!!!!! Anyway, it’s called Helen House, and it’s about the ghosts of grief. Now, onto the books I think you should get for your next bath sesh (or perhaps a book to just laze in the backyard or on a couch with if you don’t have a tub). These are perfect books to pack for a short trip, as they’re short but potent!
Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill (179 pages)
Not technically a queer book but hands down one of my favorite literary explorations of marriage, this fragmentary novel is a constant re-read for me. But before I ever read it myself, my fiancé read it to me while I was in the bath in the first apartment we shared together, and it was such a perfect way to experience this book.
Pizza Girl by Jean Kyoung Frazier (208 pages)
Funny, strange, propulsive, and voicey, Jean Kyoung Frazier’s debut has young queer desire baked into its pickled cheesy heart.
We Had to Remove This Post by Hanna Bervoets (144 pages)
This mordantly humorous tech dystopia novel-in-translation is centered on a lesbian who works at a nefarious company contracted to do content moderation for an unnamed and also nefarious social networking company. It’s a wild ride!
Junk by Tommy Pico (80 pages)
Given the page count parameters I set for this list, there should be a lot more poetry on it! But the truth is, I don’t always feel completely equipped to recommend poetry, because while I do love to read it, I’m not as well read in that arena and think other folks here at Autostraddle are better experts! See what they’re recommending! But listen, I could read Tommy’s work over and over and over and never tire of it, and so you better believe I’m bringing Junk into the tub!
Body Work: The Radical Power of Personal Narrative by Melissa Febos (192 pages)
This is a must read for queer writers of memoir and creative nonfiction (or just like all writers of memoir and creative nonfiction, but even if you’re not a writer yourself, it’s a craft book that has wide appeal and might crack open the way you think about bodies, desire, art, and the making of it.
Dyke (geology) by Sabrina Imbler (24 pages)
I am forever recommending this ultra-short, uncategorizable, VERY GAY book by the same author as the recent critically acclaimed How Far the Light Reaches: A Life in Ten Sea Creatures. Just trust me on this one!!! It makes science horny!
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (208 pages)
Get a little gothic in the bath — why not! This one’s a classic for a reason.
People Change by Vivek Shraya (112 pages)
Whether you’re somewhat scared of change or at a crossroads in life, this book can be both challenging and affirming when it comes to transformation, transition, change.
The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw (192 pages)
Short fiction collections are perfect for the bath, because even if you can’t finish the book, you can at least finish a complete story or two. It doesn’t get much better than this one, which features multiple queer stories and deserving of all of its critical acclaim!
Brown Neon by Raquel Gutiérrez (200 pages)
A memoir that features place writing, queer feminist theory, writing on butch identity, personal narrative, and soooooo much more, this is for when you want to swim in deep thoughts in the bath, and sometimes that is indeed the vibe!
Now you tell me — what are your favorite books that are about 200 pages or less?