J. Courtney Sullivan
In anticipation of J. Courtney Sullivan’s new novel, Friends and Strangers, coming in June (!), I’m re-reading her backlist. Commencement is one of my favorites, all about four women who are assigned to the same dorm during their freshman year at Smith College, who become unlikely friends. I’m definitely Zooming more with my girls from college, so this book feels spot-on.
I was supposed to see Ali Wong perform recently, but sadly, due to social distancing, it was canceled. But my cousins Kate and Maggie both listened to the audiobook of Ali Wong’s humorous memoir and absolutely raved about it. Since Ali Wong reads her own book, it kind of feels like she’s in your house being hilarious…which, honestly, sounds like a great way to survive another week indoors.
How Much of These Hills Is Gold
C Pam Zhang
This debut novel is sparkling and will transport you to the American Wild West at the tail end of the Gold Rush. After their father dies and their mother leaves, Lucy and Sam are orphaned and alone in an unforgiving landscape. The novel blends Chinese symbolism with American lore, and asks important questions about immigration, race, and family. Plus, the brother-sister story is one I’ll tell my brother about on our next FaceTime rendezvous.
Odd One Out
I admit I’ve been having some trouble reading, so I decided to pick up a young adult novel I’ve had in a stack for a while. Nic Stone’s novel, Odd One Out, is about a complex love triangle between three teens who are navigating friendship, first love, and identity. I devoured this one quickly and it got me back in the swing of things, reading-wise. I still have no idea what day it is.
All Adults Here
Emma Straub has done it again! Her new novel, All Adults Here, introduces us to the Stricks, a delightfully flawed family, with matriarch Astrid at the center. When Astrid witnesses a school bus accident, it causes her to reflect on her own life and the mother she was to her own children—now grown and parents themselves. I know I’ve been having trouble adulting during this time (seriously, I have to cook, again?!), and the characters in this novel feel like they’re struggling right alongside me.
Little Fires Everywhere
I think I’m actually the last person on earth to read this book but better late than never, right? I picked it up about a week ago and I’m close to finished with it now. To put it modestly, it’s phenomenal. The story of Shaker Heights and the families that live there draws you in and keeps you hooked until the last page. Without spoiling anything, there’s a huge mystery that lies at the heart of the book, and you can’t stop reading until you know what’s going on. Once I finish reading, I’ll watch the series on Hulu and listen to our podcast that recaps the show. If there’s anyone else out there who hasn’t read this yet, do it now. It’s worth it.
Emily St. John Mandel
Now might seem like a strange time to dive into a near-future dystopian read but I’m kind of in the mood for a book that’ll make me think about humanity. Again, I’m late to reading this one but I’m excited. Station Eleven is set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse and follows a nomadic group of actors as they roam the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region to try to keep the remnants of art and humanity alive. As a creative who has been saved by the art I create and hear and see, this seems like a book that’ll speak to my heart.
Wow, No Thank You.
Samantha Irby’s books mean so much to me. She is absolutely hilarious and each essay collection captures her one-of-a-kind personality. She shares extremely candid moments—both highs and lows—and makes you triple-think about e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. Plus, she’s a fellow IBD warrior (it’s so refreshing to read about the experiences of someone who gets it). Whenever I’m feeling down or alone, I pick up one of her books and instantly feel better. It’s like a warm cup of tea in book form. I will be tackling Wow, No Thank You now and will most likely finish it in one sitting because… that’s how good I know it will be. Thanks for being you, Sam. You’re a hero. And thank you for following me on Twitter. I love you. Bye.
The Kiss Quotient
I’ve heard seriously steamy things about this book—what better time to read it than now, when I’m feeling extra lonely, craving affection, and devoid of human touch? The Kiss Quotient is a sexy modern rom-com about a young woman with Asperger’s who wants to learn more about romance… so she hires an escort to help her with it all, from kissing to foreplay to more-than-missionary positions. I mean, I’m sweating already. Maybe it’s good that I’m in the privacy of my own home…?
I’ve always been a sucker for magic, in books and in movies (I have a Harry Potter tattoo, for crying out loud). I’ve heard great things about Uprooted, which is a very cool fantasy/fairy-tale hybrid about a quiet village, an evil wizard, and a terrible price that people pay for peace. There’s a great heroine at the center of this novel, which is always appealing to me, and a lot of action and adventure. While I’m stuck on the couch, I’ll be living in these pages, all-consumed by the beautiful, magical world that Novik has created. I can’t wait.
We are—like the entirety of the world should be—quarantining in our homes until further notice.
With a lot of time on our hands (and a lot of stress in our hearts), we’re turning to books for comfort more than ever before. We’re continuing to read, only this time, we’re ordering books from bookshop.org, supporting our local indie bookstores and shopping our shelves for books that aren’t necessarily “new,” but new to us—and that’s perfectly good enough.
If you’re looking for books to read while quarantined that will make you smile, or cry, or laugh, or feel all warm inside, this list of recommendations is for you.
Featured image by Kevon Nicholas