Fiction titles that tell a story over the course of a single day (or night).
The Hours / Michael Cunningham
The Hours is a daring and deeply affecting novel inspired by the life and work of Virginia Woolf. It is a passionate, profound and haunting story of love and inheritance, hope and despair.
A Single Man / Christopher Isherwood
When A Single Man was originally published, it shocked many by its frank, sympathetic, and moving portrayal of a gay man in midlife. George, the protagonist, is adjusting to life on his own after the sudden death of his partner, determined to persist in the routines of his daily life. An Englishman and a professor living in suburban Southern California, he is an outsider in every way, and his internal reflections and interactions with others reveal a man who loves being alive despite everyday injustices and loneliness. Wry, suddenly manic, constantly funny, surprisingly sad, this novel catches the true textures of life itself.
Molly Fox’s Birthday / Deirdre Madden
It is the height of summer, and celebrated actor Molly Fox has loaned her house in Dublin to a friend while she is away performing in New York. Alone among all of Molly’s possessions, struggling to finish her latest play, she looks back on the many years and many phases of her friendship with Molly and their college friend Andrew, and comes to wonder whether they really knew each other at all. She revisits the intense closeness of their early days, the transformations they each made in the name of success and security, the lies they told each other, and betrayals they never acknowledged. Set over a single midsummer’s day, Molly Fox’s Birthday is a mischievous, insightful novel about a turning point–a moment when past and future suddenly appear in a new light.
Saturday / Ian McEwan
Saturday, February 15, 2003. Henry Perowne is a contented man – a successful neurosurgeon, the devoted husband of Rosalind, and proud father of two grown-up children. Unusually, he wakes before dawn, drawn to the window of his bedroom and filled with a growing unease. As he looks out at the night sky, he is troubled by the state of the world – the impending war against Iraq, a gathering pessimism since 9/11, and a fear that his city and his happy family life are under threat. Later, as Perowne makes his way through London streets filled with hundreds of thousands of anti-war protestors, a minor car accident brings him into a confrontation with Baxter, a fidgety, aggressive young man, on the edge of violence. To Perowne’s professional eye, there appears to be something profoundly wrong with him. But it is not until Baxter makes a sudden appearance as the Perowne family gathers for a reunion, that Henry’s fears seem about to be realised. Also available as an audiobook on CD.
After Dark / Haruki Murakami
Nineteen-year-old Mari is waiting out the night in an anonymous Denny’s when she meets a young man who insists he knows her older sister, thus setting her on an odyssey through the sleeping city. In the space of a single night, the lives of a diverse cast of Tokyo residents—models, prostitutes, mobsters, and musicians—collide in a world suspended between fantasy and reality. Utterly enchanting and infused with surrealism, After Dark is a thrilling account of the magical hours separating midnight from dawn.
It’s the last day of 1984, and 85-year-old Lillian Boxfish is about to take a walk. As she traverses a grittier Manhattan, a city anxious after an attack by a still-at-large subway vigilante, she encounters bartenders, bodega clerks, chauffeurs, security guards, bohemians, criminals, children, parents, and parents-to-be—in surprising moments of generosity and grace. While she strolls, Lillian recalls a long and eventful life that included a brief reign as the highest-paid advertising woman in America—a career cut short by marriage, motherhood, divorce, and a breakdown. Also available as an audiobook on CD.
Franny Glass is a pretty, effervescent college student on a date with her intellectually confident boyfriend, Lane. They appear to be the perfect couple, but as they struggle to communicate with each other about the things they really care about, slowly their true feelings come to the surface. The second story in this book, ‘Zooey’, plunges us into the world of her ethereal, sophisticated family. When Franny’s emotional and spiritual doubts reach new heights, her older brother Zooey, a misanthropic former child genius, offers her consolation and brotherly advice.
Today Will Be Different / Maria Semple
Eleanor knows she’s a mess. But today, she will tackle the little things. She will shower and get dressed. She will have her poetry and yoga lessons after dropping off her son, Timby. She won’t swear. She will initiate sex with her husband, Joe. But before she can put her modest plan into action, life happens. Today, it turns out, is the day Timby has decided to fake sick to weasel his way into his mother’s company. It’s also the day Joe has chosen to tell his office — but not Eleanor — that he’s on vacation. Just when it seems like things can’t go more awry, an encounter with a former colleague produces a graphic memoir whose dramatic tale threatens to reveal a buried family secret. Also available as an audiobook on CD, and as an ebook and audiobook on Libby / Overdrive.
TEEN FICTION SMITH
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight / Jennifer E. Smith
Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything? Quirks of timing play out in this romantic and cinematic novel about family connections, second chances, and first loves. Set over a twenty-four-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver’s story will make you believe that true love finds you when you’re least expecting it.
TEEN FICTION YOON
The Sun Is Also a Star / Nicola Yoon
Natasha is a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. Daniel has always been the good son, the good student, living up to his parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when he sees Natasha, he forgets all about that. Something about Natasha makes him think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of them. Every moment in their lives has brought them to this single moment. A million futures lie before them. Which one will come true?