When the sun decides to soothe its anger and the water-laden clouds take charge. When the atmosphere takes a meditative quality, we know it’s time to retune our exhausted selves. And what could be a better way to relax than to synchronize our reading taste with the untamed spirit of nature on a rainy day? Just like a parched earth that needs resurrection, when it comes to reading during monsoon, our mind needs something simple, light and captivating that could detangle its strained nerves.
Best Rainy Day / Night Books!
The books enlisted in this article do not have an intricate literary design with a heavy plot. They are non-contemplative yet thought-provoking, easy yet memorable reads for beginners and readers alike. Book recommendations ranging from novels to short stories, from fiction to non-fiction, are inculcated in this finely curated list of best books to read on a rainy day or night.
1. The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina
Originally written in Italian by Laura Imai Messina as “Quel Che Affidiano” and translated by Lucy Rand, The Phone Box at The Edge of The World is inspired by a true story set in North East of Japan. The protagonist, Yui, loses her mother and daughter in the 2011 tsunami. The calamity renders her detached and dispirited from life. She comes to know about a ‘Wind Phone’ installed in a windy garden. The phone is disconnected, and it is believed that the wind carries the voice of the caller to the departed souls. Intrigued, she embarks on the journey in the hope of reconnecting with life, and in pursuit of finding the Wind Phone, she meets Fujita-San, a bereaved husband. Their lives get beautifully entwined around hope and grief.
The sheer stillness of this book, broken intermittently by the sound of raindrops against the window pane, would accentuate the reading experience. The book breaks the self-feeding circle of life and death through an abstract concept of the afterlife, which is materialized by a disused phone. The translation is flawless and fluent and captures the native essence of Japan. Other attributes like short chapters and lack of long, stretchy, and contemplative sentences make this book imbibe-able, and hence a highly recommended rainy day read. You can get the book here! 📖
2. The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley
We usually open up to our closest friends, don’t we? But has the thought of telling your deepest secrets to a complete stranger ever crossed your mind? Because you think that people you know wouldn’t accept the real you? Because they idolize the so-called perfect image, you have created of yourself for the world to see? This is exactly what happens in Clare Pooley’s debut novel “The Authenticity Project”. Julian Jessop, a 70-year-old retired artist, decides to pour down the saddest truth of his life in a notebook and deliberately leaves it in a pleasant-looking café for a stranger to pick it up and continue the project. He hardly imagined that his small act of honesty would end up connecting a bunch of strangers for the best.
As the journey unfolds, we find ourselves getting attached to the characters and wishing the best for them. It is a heartwarming tale of honesty, lies, relations, fights, art, and humor. Pooley has deftly interwoven some serious themes that will force you to introspect. How different reality is from what we are made to see, and how little we know about people we meet every day. This book is perfect if you’re looking for a flowy, warm, feel-good novel. You can get the book here! 📖
3. The Cat and The City by Nick Bradley
The reference to ‘cats’ in Japanese literature is now just beyond coincidence. ‘The Cat and the City’ by Nick Bradley could have alluded to every single irony that one can conjure up. While reading, it dawned upon me that there’s a continuity in the apparent discontinuity. The closure I got from the incomplete, unanswered questions the stories posed. They emerged and crossed and diverged again, creating enmeshing tracks upon which a calico cat with crystal green eyes walked with elegance in search of a lost memory.
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This book is set in Tokyo and may seem like a collection of short stories at first, but it is actually a tapestry of different stories of people who are somehow connected. There are no boundaries; everything seems to blur and blend as Tokyo takes the shape of a separate character altogether. The town flowed in and out of people creating a 300-page-long domino effect. The Author treated ‘Japan’ as the protagonist, and all other entities just adapted to its forever-changing aura. This book resides in the abstract. It does not follow real-life rules. A cat may transform into a human. A cat may split its personality. There is no black, no white, and no grey. It’s a forever-changing slide of bright colors. You can get the book here! 📖
4. The Grownup by Gillian Flynn
How can I proceed further without considering all the mystery/thriller enthusiasts out there? When a thriller story gets wrapped up within a trifle page count, you don’t give it a second thought. Or at least you shouldn’t give! Because, in all probability, it will turn out to be a mind-boggling read. “The Grownup” is an Edgar award-winning short story by Gillian Flynn. A young woman fakes her living as a fortune teller and a cut-price psychic, accompanied by some illegal work on the side.
She feigns reading the “aura” of people, and then she meets Susan Burke, who has a troubling stepson, Miles. Susan wants help because she believes that their house is possessed and Miles is becoming worse. The young woman doesn’t know anything about exorcism but seizes the opportunity to make money. However, when she enters the house, she gets delusional to the point of madness. The story is highly manipulative and will leave you craving for more. It isn’t a cliffhanger, but it’s entirely up to you to choose the ending. Though Flynn goes off track many times but the story is engaging, and you will definitely enjoy this short read on a rainy day. You can get the book here! 📖
5. Room by Emma Donoghue
Imagine you are born in a room, and you have to stay there for God knows how long! This moving story by Emma Donoghue is about a 5-year-old boy Jack and his mom, who have been living in a room for 7 years. Old Nick comes every Sunday and provides them with the necessities. There is not a single window except a skylight on the ceiling. The room was lead shielded, and the door was code locked. This room becomes Jack’s world to the extent that the outer world seems alien to him.
But by the time a baby grows up, he is taught by his elders. During the course of time, his raw perspective is somewhat diluted by what others think. But just for a minute, envisage the contrary; what if you got to know the perspective of a 1-year-old baby who is able to communicate in the form of a 5-year-old boy? The book is interesting but an emotional read. It will teach you the importance of adapting to the changes around you. Don’t just stick to the point from where you originate, get up, explore, discover, adapt, and evolve! You can get the book here! 📖
6. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
‘The Little Prince’ by Antoine Saint-Exupery is an attempt to find your inner child. The story will remove the worn-out layers of your soul and will take you to a land that existed before memory. While trying to repair his crashed airplane in the middle of the Sahara Desert, the narrator meets a little boy – a dweller of asteroid B-612. The narrator calls him ‘little prince’. On his way to earth, he visits different small asteroids and planets occupied by uncanny people who are symbolic of the variability in human nature. If a king lived on one planet, a conceited man on another. If a tippler occupied one, a businessman thrived on another. The conversation that took place between them and the little prince is worth pondering upon for hours.
This book is a Satire on how grown-ups fail to appreciate and acknowledge the finer things in life. The storyline changes according to the age of the reader; that’s the magic of it. It may seem like we are intellectually progressing, but in reality, we are becoming more mainstream. The book contains illustrations and takes the assistance of “magical realism” to charge a new assault on “realism” by wisely interpreting human nature. You can get the book here! 📖
7. The Humans by Matt Haig
‘The Humans’ is a sci-fi novel written by the universally acclaimed author Matt Haig. To be precise, ‘sci-fi’ would be a generalized term because this book has many more layers to it. It is funny, a bit philosophical, and highly thought-provoking as Matt provides a breath of fresh air through his intelligent writing and perspective toward humans. This book gives a new dimension to the existing concepts which govern our day-to-day lives. An extra-terrestrial and unnamed creature assassinate Prof. Andrew Martin, a genius mathematician at Cambridge University. After taking his body, the alien’s account of humans is devastatingly hilarious.
Being a dweller of an immortal and technically advanced utopian society, the concepts like love and companionship totally astonish him. However, his initial disgust for humans gradually thaws when he starts to bond with the family of Andrew Martin. Matt’s razor wit makes us chuckle when the human ways puzzle the alien. His gradual realization of the innate quality of love and brotherhood in humans is heart-warming. The book can also be used as a toolkit to improve our ways of living life. Through his imagination, Matt gives us a critique in the form of an alien! You can get the book here! 📖
8. Undertow by Jahnavi Barua
Undertow by Jahnavi Barua is a family saga. The Assamese Goswami family casts out Rukmini, on the orders of her mother, Usha, for an inter-cast marriage with a Christian Malayali, Alex Gorge. The marriage survived only for a short span of 12 years as Alex married Sugandhi. 25 years later, Loya (Rukmini’s daughter) returns to Assam to seek answers for the injustice done to Rukmini. Loya is angry, and due to the generation gap, the initial exchange between her and Torun (her grandfather), remains rough, but eventually, they develop an understanding. She gets a deeper sense of “being”, in Assam, which she calls home, and understands it is the true meaning.
Different characters provide different perspectives towards life, and that is what makes this book a champion. The story fluctuates between present and past, but still, it doesn’t break the flow. Most importantly, it teaches us how to resist the relentless undertowing of emotions. The novel has a strong sense of place and character. This book paints such a lucid picture that it felt like I grew up in that yellow house in Assam amidst the ever-flowing Brahmaputra and Frangipani trees. A fantastic piece of Northeast Indian literature. You can get the book here! 📖
9. The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
The House in The Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune is a slice of life itself. This book found its place in this list because it is all things bright and beautiful. It will teach you the art of living in the most lively way possible. Nothing in this book feels forced or intentional. The writing style is fluent and captures the lyricism of the magically realistic world of Klune. Linus Baker, a caseworker, is deployed by a certain ‘Extremely Upper Management’ to review orphanages, where magical children are kept as society deems them ‘harmful’.
One such quiet infamous orphanage is in the cerulean sea, where he meets mysterious magical children and far more mysterious Arthur Parnussus. This book is about Linus’s transition from a seemingly colorless life that is solely fabricated by strict rules to a lively and happy one. The children teach him how to live life not just for the sake of living but to actually enjoy this wonderful gift and decorate it with souvenirs of as many experiences as one can manage. You can get the book here! 📖
10. The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa
Memories tether us to our past. If this cord is severed, we’ll float shapelessly as an abstract concept. “Memory Police” by Yōko Ogawa is a well-woven politically aesthetic dystopian science fiction. The unnamed narrator is a novelist by profession who is a resident of an unknown island where things disappear, not physically, but their memories, to be precise. The memories are erased from their minds. Those who still behold their memories are taken away by the sole ruling regiment of the island – THE MEMORY POLICE. After every disappearance, people are forced to remove every trace of its existence. The narrator’s mother, a sculptor, leaves some traces for her daughter in the hope that one day she might be able to remember all that is forgotten.
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Like every Japanese literature, this too is brimming with symbolism. It’s a fragile attempt that highlights resistance to totalitarianism. I loved how Ogawa described art in this book. Art that would forever remain beyond the reach of any authority. Art that is resilient. Art that cannot be subdued. The writing style is unsettling and surreal and is capable of taking you away from reality to that unknown island that is slowly evaporating into oblivion. You can get the book here! 📖
11. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
If you are looking for a light, quirky read that could uplift your mood instantly, ‘The Graveyard Book’ by Neil Gaiman is a perfect candidate. This book is famous for its weird yet unique storyline. Nobody Owens (Bod), a toddler, randomly crawls outside his house on the night when Jack murders his entire family. Bod makes his way to the graveyard, where the ghosts take the responsibility of raising and educating him.
Bod grows up a little more in each successive chapter, and we, as readers, get to see the world via the perspective of the dead through Bod’s eyes. The ghosts are from different time periods, so Bod gets a mosaic personality, and it is really interesting to see how he tackles the hurdles. Critics may limit it only to the middle graders, but the book has an inherent wisdom to it. Each chapter is a separate adventure of Bod and a short story in itself. The book is illustrated, the plot is dynamic, and the writing style is simple yet captivating. That will take you to a not-so-realistic world of Gaiman, that too against the backdrop of rain and cool winds. You can get the book here! 📖
12. Birthday Girl by Haruki Murakami
Haruki Murakami‘s writing style could be summed up as “Requiring a high intellectual and imaginative apparatus for ridiculously simple things.” I won’t disagree with the fact that his work generates more questions than it answers them. But the sheer obscurity of it gives you a reason to return back to his story and see for yourself how well you can decide what he meant! The Birthday Girl is one such short story highlighting Murakami’s indecisiveness in a conversation snippet between the narrator and the protagonist, who is describing her uncanny and unforgettable 20th birthday.
How it rained that very day, how she spent the entire time waiting tables in an Italian restaurant. Up until she was granted the opportunity to deliver the meal to the owner. The owner offers her to make a birthday wish. Whatever she wanted, no matter how strange the wish might be, but just one wish, and she couldn’t even take it back. After a while, she makes a very strange demand that takes the owner by surprise. The book is not rigidly realistic and reflects the signature Murakami style of telling things in the strangest ways possible. You can get the book here! 📖
13. The Night Train at Deoli and Other Stories by Ruskin Bond
How can I talk about rain and not talk about the timeless Ruskin Bond? The Night Train at Deoli and Other Stories is a collection of 30 memorable short stories. From the vast array of his books, there is a reason for selecting this particular gem to enlist here. Primarily, it is not a novel but a short story collection of his best works reflecting his years of growth. The stories in this book are figments of his bygone years through which he reminisces about people and places which left an impression on him.
Despite the diversity of stories in this book, there seems to be a common theme of love connecting each of them. Stories like ‘The Woman on Platform 8’ and ‘The Coral Tree’ talk about the unexpected bond of love and respect we develop with strangers, and ‘The Photograph’ indicates the bond’s relationship with his grandmother. Similarly, ‘The prospect of flowers’ reflects the adversities of old age and loneliness. The rest of the universally adored Ruskin Bond stories are also included in this book, like ‘Sita and the River’ and ‘My father’s tress in Dehra’. Like every other book, his deep-rooted love for nature and simplistic, seamless way of expressing complex human emotions never fails to charm the readers. You can get the book here! 📖
14. Stillness Is the Key by Ryan Holiday
Sky overcast with dense black clouds could be overwhelming for some. If there are people who love the rain, there are also those who hate it. This non-fiction book recommendation is especially for those who don’t like dealing with the blues of a rainy day. And what could be more rewarding than diverting your focus towards relaxing the agitated mind? Stillness Is the Key by Ryan Holiday is a guide that will assist you in cultivating silence and becoming more appreciative of what you have.
It is a perfect tool to stabilize the extreme ebb and flow of emotions and bring them down to a level at which our mind is able to tackle them effectively. The book is divided into three sections: The Mind, The Spirit, and The Physical. It stresses upon the balanced development of all three aspects for a still and stable inner ecosystem. We are driven by external stimuli, and too much disturbance in the outer world may disrupt the peace of our inner sanctum. The book teaches the art of stoicism when no noise reaches the ‘core’ and a steady level of functioning is achieved. So, even if you dislike something(s), you might want to learn better ways of dealing with it. You can get the book here! 📖
These are the best novels and books you should read on a rainy day or night. You can let us know your favorite ones in the comments below as well. Happy reading!
I relish the worlds of Science and Literature alike. Currently, on my journey to wield endless power over words.