The notion that attention spans are narrowing isn’t new, but the past year has brought even more reasons for shrinking mental bandwidth. PW suggests that readers seeking neural nourishment look away from their conspiracy-minded cousins’ Twitter feeds and toward forthcoming essay and short fiction and collections, novellas, and quick-study nonfiction. We’re not judging anyone swept up by the vertiginously rotating news cycle, but we hope these books can bring screen-bleary eyes back to the page.

Below, books for short attention spans.

In Good Company: Books for Short Attention Spans 2021
Personal essays provide a much needed sense of connection, and closure.

Depts. of Speculation: Books for Short Attention Spans 2021
Fantastical novellas and collections of short fiction deliver a brief respite from reality.

Not Your Mama’s Cliff’s Notes: Books for Short Attention Spans 2021
University presses offer quick, immersive takes on various collegiate subjects intended to engage as well as educate.

Hidden Narratives: PW Talks with Lucy Ives
In the story collection ‘Cosmogony’ (Soft Skull, Mar.), Ives renders the familiar strange.

Quick Studies: Books for Short Attention Spans 2021
On the syllabus for distracted lifelong learners: takes on food, feminism, philosophy, and more.

Reading the Sea: PW Talks with Easkey Britton
The science- and mindfulness-based activities suggested in Britton’s ‘50 Things to Do at the Beach’ (Princeton Architectural Press, May) come in an accessible format conducive to quick dips.

Liza Monroy’s books include the essay collection Seeing as Your Shoes Are Soon to Be on Fire (Soft Skull).