Staff picks for fun, quick reads over winter break

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It’s winter break, and ‘tis the season for the inevitable dilemma of how to kill time on an excruciatingly boring plane ride or car trip. I’ve compiled a few charming novels to make time fly – they’re mostly personal favorites that I’ve found to be enjoyable, feel-good reads. To avoid being too obvious, I’ll assume that we’ve all read “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” series.

“The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure” by William Goldman.

This book has it all – castles, pirates, sword fights, giants, underground zoos, magic potions, evil royalty and true love. It’s easy to fall in love with and goes by in no time. My only tip: Skip the introduction. Goldman’s genius satire is a little too dense to make sense of, and the only context is that he tells the reader of how he decided to abridge a text (which in reality is nonexistent) that his father read him when he was a child. If you’re a fan of the movie then you’ll love the book, and if you aren’t a fan of the 1985 film, then go watch it already!

“Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore” by Robin Sloan

Recently unemployed graphic designer Clay is wandering the streets of San Francisco when he discovers a bookstore that may be more than what it seems. Cults, codes, some hilarious scenes at Google and plenty for Bay Area readers to feel proud of. Sloan (a local) is a great mystery writer, and the short novel is like a twinkling mini-adventure.

“Landline” by Rainbow Rowell

All of Rowell’s four novels are easy to read and touching, but her most recent one, “Landline,” balances both her lighthearted and poignant styles. In the book, a woman in Nebraska is dealing with her struggling marriage when she discovers an old landline telephone through which she can speak to her husband, but thirty years in the past.

“Paper Towns” by John Green

High school senior Q is about to graduate when his friend Margo Roth Speigelman disappears, leading to a road trip with other friends in search of her. “Paper Towns,” a Young Adult novel, is thoughtful but side-splittingly funny, and has some shining side characters. Besides, a movie is coming out in 2015, so you might as well get aboard.

Contact Sarah Goldwasser at [email protected].