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Two Pleasingly Compact Books – The New York Times

With the holidays approaching, Read Like the Wind will catch its breath for a couple of weeks; the next edition will appear on Jan. 6, 2024. Merry everything.

Here’s what I wanted — still want — in my pocket: a book, with a spine, covers and ink. Not a janky first-generation e-reader; not the tidy downloads I juggle now, as an editor at the Book Review. I’m happy to do my part for the environment, but show me a flower that smells sweeter than paper and I’ll treat you to a staff pick from my local bookstore.

Of course, when it comes to portability, or pocketability, size matters. For stashable entertainment, I turn to the little guys: books I can hold in the palm of my hand. Like tiny houses and teacup poodles, my favorites retain the essence of their prototypes without sacrificing quality. Unlike board books and cash register impulse buys — the bibliophile’s one-night stand — they contain grown-up fare, usually fiction, to be consumed in a single sitting and revisited on repeat.

A caveat: I’m not wild about shrunken classics. Perhaps you’ve seen the complete novels of Jane Austen and the Brontës tucked into a twee box along with all of Shakespeare’s plays? Let’s not do this. Give those icons some elbow room! And the dignity of legible print.

In my humble and increasingly cantankerous opinion, the best dainty fiction was born that way, not engineered to be cute. Here are two worthy picks — one plot per pocket, no batteries or charger required.

Elfishly (but never on-a- shelf-ishly),

PS. Shelves are for books!

In her afterword to this “small morsel” — slightly bigger than “Devotion” but still more petite than a Kindle Paperwhite — Miller explains why she wrote her own version of Ovid’s Pygmalion story, in which a sculptor falls in love with a woman he carves from ivory.

“She is only called the woman,” Miller writes. “She is meant to be a compliant object of desire and nothing more.”

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