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What To Read This Week: Decompressing with no-nonsense stories

What to read this week

Reading can often fall to the wayside after a long week of responsibility and stress. Finding a book that accommodates time and energy is an even more difficult challenge that can off-put students from reading in their down time. 

Below is a list of low-commitment works that offer solace from the stressors of daily life. From a collection of short stories by British novelist Helen Oyeyemi to a well-known novella by Albert Camus, there’s something here for every taste and schedule. 

“What is Not Yours is Not Yours” by Helen Oyeyemi

One of Oyeyemi’s more recent works, “What is Not Yours is Not Yours,” debuted in 2015 and has since become a fan favorite. Each short story can be read as an independent piece, but you’ll often find characters weaving themselves into each other’s narratives.

Oyeyemi expertly blurs the boundaries between fantasy and reality. One moment, you may be entranced by a school of puppeteers and their semi-sentient puppets, and in the next you’ll be placed in the middle of a psychological experiment. 

This book will keep you on your toes. Every story is so distinct in its topic that it’s difficult to become bored, yet Oyeyemi’s playful tone is the consistent thread that makes them cohesive as a collection.

“The Stranger” by Albert Camus

Clocking in at a mere 123 pages, this novel is easy to finish in one sitting and is so intriguing that it’ll be hard not to. Translated from French, “The Stranger” is considered a hallmark of existentialism and absurdism.

The story follows the protagonist, Meursault, after the death of his mother. He plummets deeper into an abyss of chaos and violence, and many of his decisions will leave you appalled. The ending is unsettling, somehow leaving the reader both frustrated and liberated. 

“The Moon is Always Female” by Marge Piercy

Marge Piercy is a prolific writer, publishing 17 novels and 20 collections of poetry. Her work became extremely influential to feminist thought in the 1980s, and she won the prestigious Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction in 1993.

“The Moon is Always Female” explores a variety of themes from death and platonic intimacy to poems inspired by the lunar cycle. This is a fairly quick read and is a great introduction to poetry for those who may not usually enjoy it.

“The Dialectic” by Zadie Smith

Perhaps the quickest read on this list, “The Dialectic” should not be overlooked. It was recently published in Zadie Smith’s 2019 collection, “Grand Union: Stories,” and is now available on Granta magazine’s website. The story takes less than ten minutes to finish, yet it’s extremely dense with information and symbolism.

On the surface, we witness a nameless mother and her daughter bicker about animal consumption and the state of the beach. Yet Smith’s narration reveals deeper conflicts of abandonment and complicated self-perceptions. This story is well worth the short amount of time invested in it and will leave you wanting more of the intimacy that Smith crafts with ease.

Person 1: This song slaps.

Person 2: Your mom slaps.

Person 1: Thank you, my mom is a kind and wonderful lady.

 Person 1: I’m so sick of alcohol.

Person 2: I don’t know, I’m getting stronger every day. I love it.

Person 1: Do you do the vegan wrap here?

Person 2: We can do the chicken wrap with no cheese?

Person 1: I’ll take the Beyond Burger please. 

Person 1: Oh my God! I feel like I know you somehow…

Person 2: Yeah, we went to high school together. 

Person 1: Oh! *walks off*

Guy 1: Is the black market even real? Has anyone ever been on it?

Guy 2: I tried once but I couldn’t figure out how to get on.

Guy 1: I stayed up until 2 am watching Disney plus

Guy 2: I told my girlfriend I fell asleep but I was actually watching the Mandalorian.

Girl 1: How long have you guys been dating?

Girl 2: Since the summer, well actually for like two years but it’s a long story.

Girl 1: Who are you looking for?

Girl 2: This guy, wait I found him. Fanny pack boy. He flipped off my professor after a test and ran out of the classroom.

Girl 1: How did you choose KU? 

Girl 2: Honestly, I flipped a coin. 

Boy 1: Did I tell you? I think I had a threesome this weekend.

Boy 2: Woah, hold up. You think?

Boy 1: I was born a Phi Delt.

Boy 2: Please don’t ever say that again.

Girl 1: How do you get your boobs to look like that?

Girl 2: I don’t ever wear a bra? I don’t know. 

Girl 1: I just really want a guy to bend me over you know?

Girl 2: How do you know? You’re a virgin!

Guy: Sometimes I wish I could just be a dog and sleep all day. 

Girl: You wake up at like three every day. 

Guy: I know.

Girl: So…

Guy: So does that make me a dog or something?

Girl 1: I wish I was a little bit taller.

Girl 2: I wish I was balder.

Girl 1: I wish I had a...wait, wait, wait balder?

Guy 1: Let’s slap dicks

Guy 2: You ever pee and it feels like throwing up?

Woman 1: *holding baby* He would have been safer at the Hawk

Woman 2: Oh absolutely.

Girl 1: I would never date that guy.

Girl 2: Well, it depends how much money he has.

Girl 1: I’m going to the doctor to see if I have bronchitis before I hook up with him again.

Girl 2: Yeah that’s smart so you don’t give it to anyone else. 

Girl 1: No I mean I want to make sure I infect him.

Guy 1: I'm cutting some of my unnecessary costs, starting with Juuling.

Guy 2: Ight man, good luck.

Guy 1: Actually I might just start chewing

Guy 1: How was work?

Guy 2: My manager was chastising me for not dressing up in a Halloween costume, she doesn’t understand I’m strictly here to get paid.

Guy 1: I am so tired of this week, man

Guy 2: Dude it’s Monday

Guy 1: I know

Person#1: I want to be on the first ship to mars

Person#2: Not me, I doubt they have Wi-Fi

Perons#1: Yeah but at least they’re evolving up there. We’re all just devolving.

Girl 1: Um, I don’t eat pig.

Girl 2: You eat bacon all the time, bitch.

Guy 1: You better get going. 

Guy 2: Yeah, see ya. I’m off to get some Adderall.

Girl 1: Are you home right now?

Girl 2: Yeah, why?

Girl 1: I bought a cat

Girl 1: I just don't understand what fishing is for.

Girl 2: I don't know. Food, maybe?

Guy: I’m just gonna have to like carry an entire box of spiders up the hill tomorrow.

Girl: What?

Guy: Yeah, just like a hundred spiders in a box.

Guy 1: Sometimes ya just gotta give yourself a haircut.

Guy 2: Dude, you shaved half your head. That’s not a haircut, that’s a mess.

Girl 1: Can you eat fruit raw?

Girl 2: How else are you supposed to eat it?

Girl: That class is killing us. ​But they say rest is for the dead.

Guy: Well, at least we'll be rested.

Girl: She's not in class this semester

Guy: Maybe she's dead

Girl: Or studying abroad