Everyday has proven to be a little different as this period of self-isolation stretches on. Some days remain relatively normal as I am still working full-time and the hours of the evening fill up quickly with writing or chatting with loved ones or watching Alta Mar or Locke & Key. But then somedays, like today, are steeped in a heaviness that remains difficult to shake. It’s on days like these, the blue days I call them, that I find books especially important in providing me another world to escape into. Whatever day you’re having, I hope you know you’re not alone in it and that despite how it may feel right now, this will not last forever.
While in my last post I gave recommendations for books that will give you a good laugh and books that would give your heart all the feels, this time around we’re traveling to a different shelf on my bookcase and talking about fantastic fiction and noteworthy memoirs to keep you company during this time of self-isolation.
Fantastic Fiction to Take You Into Another World
- The Shadow of the Wind was one of my favorite reads of 2019 and one of the first books I always passionately recommend to people. Part mystery, part thriller, part love story, The Shadow of the Wind follows Daniel, a book sellers son, who becomes obsessed with a novel written by an author he’s never heard of, Julián Carax. As Daniel attempts to learn more, he finds out that someone has been burning all of Carax’s books, plunging Daniel into a dangerous world of buried secrets, and family scandals that were never meant to be unearthed.
- The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle was also one of my favorite reads for last year as it’s one of the most unique mystery stories I’ve ever read (and I’ve read a lot of mysteries in my time). The narrator of the book, whose identity isn’t unveiled until the end, wakes up in a body not his own, with the mission of solving the mystery of who kills Evelyn Hardcastle by midnight. If the murder goes unsolved, he relives the same day again but in a different body of another house guest, and is given only seven days to save himself and the few others trapped by this mystical imprisonment.
- Little Fires Everywhere could also be placed under “books that will give you all the feels,” as follows “the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and an enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives.” It’s about motherhood, art and identity, and the price of good intentions. The book is also about to debut as a Hulu original series so I recommend reading the book now!
- Nutshell I still think about even though I read it yers ago. The book is by Ian McEwan and is a modern retelling of Hamlet from the perspective of the unborn fetus — a perspective that makes the book so riveting.
- A Visit From the Goon Squad is a storytelling masterpiece. The novel moves between a diverse group of characters, each deliciously colorful and complex, that are revealed to be connected in major and minor ways as the story unfolds.
- Middlesex is a must read for everyone. Following three generations of the Stephanides family, Middlesex is a family drama and coming-of-age story ultimately centered around Calliope Stephanides, whose story of identity, gender, and decision to eventually transition will be impossible to forget.
The Most Memorable of Memoirs
- Walking Distance is for all my readers out there who find answers to life’s big questions on their meandering, destination-less walks through their cities. It’s beautifully illustrated and follows the author’s many thoughts about turning 30 as she wanders her favorite streets of London. If you like this book, you’ll also love Tenements, Towers, and Trash.
- Truth & Beauty by Ann Patchett writes about her 20+ year friendship with fellow author Lucy Grealy. This memoir pays tribute to true, ever-complicated, ever-changing friendship between two deeply different women held together by a mutual love for one another.
- Autobiography of a Face is one you should read in tandem or directly following Truth & Beauty as it’s the personal memoir of Lucy Grealy who writes about her experience battling facial cancer as a child during the 80s, and the residue effects (ex. facial deformities) and cancer relapses that follow her throughout her adult life.
- Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo & Me is a graphic memoir capturing artist Ellen Forney’s experience of being diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and depression. It’s heartfelt, it’s thought-provoking, and moves between light-hearted anecdotes and honest remembrances of how frustrating and long the process to finding the right treatment can be.
- Under the Tuscan Sun feels like such an indulgence right now and that’s why I am extra loving it. Following one author’s decision to buy and renovate an Italian villa, the book is a reminder that the best things are done with intention, surrounded by others, and accompanied by a feast of delicious food.
- What If This Were Enough? is a series of thought-provoking essays written by Heather Havilesky who sets out to question the intricacies of modern life and inspire readers to ask themselves: What if this imperfect, messy reality was really enough?