By Hannah Machado

  • McSweeney’s Internet Tendency

Not physically on my bookshelf, McSweeney’s is an online compilation of comical anecdotes submitted by the public. I especially like the weird and wonderful culinary experimentation featured in “Reviews of New Food.”

  • Nine Short Stories by J.D. Salinger

This realistic fiction series is comprised of nine independent stories engaging for their unusual characters and endings in otherwise ordinary plots and settings.

  • The New Accelerator and The Star by H.G. Wells

These are two short science fiction pieces which are interesting both when read at face value and with their implicit social commentary.

  • What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe

Written by a NASA-roboticist-turned-web-cartoonist, What If? gives answers and explanations (in layperson’s terms) to intriguing physics-related questions, such as “Is it possible to build a jetpack using downward firing machine guns?” and “When, if ever, will Facebook contain more profiles of dead people than of living ones?”

  • Present Shock by Douglas Rushkoff

Okay, this one’s not so short, but it can provide some insight into the appeal of these low-commitment reads (and I have the audiobook anyway). So far, some of the highlights have been discussions of unexpected social consequences of Botox injections and the effects of real-time technology on our ability to understand linear arguments and narratives.