As a self-identifying bibliophile and well-seasoned introvert, quarantine has offered a rare opportunity to make a serious dent in my growing stack of unread books. Here is a short offering of suggested reading for isolation. I also recommend contacting your local bookstore to see if they are still accepting online orders and purchasing any new books directly through them.
If you haven’t read Irby’s first two collections of essays, Meaty and We are never meeting in real life, I suggest going back and acquainting yourself with the author’s unique tone and sense of humor. Her essays range from absurdist comedy to heart wrenching confessions. wow, no thank you fills our current need for authentic, human connection as well as providing much needed laughs.
Bardugo is best known for her popular YA series. Ninth House is the author’s preliminary book in her newest adult fantasy trilogy. Set in modern day New Haven, Ninth House follows the journey of Galaxy “Alex” Stern. The 20-year old has been recruited by the “Lethe House”, whose sole purpose is monitoring eight, magical societies operating at Yale University. By day, Alex lives as a freshman undergraduate. At night, she utilizes her unique ability to see “Greys”, spirit beings, in order to supervise magical ceremonies. Ninth House is a gripping fantasy-mystery book with authentic characters and grungy, dark magic.
There’s no excuse not to tackle a forgotten classic. Embarrassingly, this one has been in my ‘to-be-read’ pile for longer than I care to admit. Set in a fictious 19th-century English town, Middlemarch follows the journeys of several men and women as they navigate provincial life. Eliot’s subtle satire is hardly unforgiving to the cast of characters. The narrator is a neutral, impartial judge in their various escapades and mishaps. It is beautifully written and forgoes some of the expected, romantic trappings of other popular Victorian novels.
I’m not sure if anyone in their right mind would “recommend” this book. It certainly won’t be uplifting and at nearly 900 pages it is not a quick read. However, it is one of the most engrossing, impactful novels I have read in the last few years and I often find myself remembering my experience reading this book. The story follows four friends from college to middle age. The focus mainly centers on the character of Jude. Be warned: this book is trauma-filled and relentless in its portrayal of abuse and despair. Yet, the prose is exceptionally beautiful and the possibility of Jude’s redemption from a life of misery is so compelling that it is difficult to turn away.