The Top Books To Read In Isolation

While in self quarantine what better time to catch up on your reading. Here are our top contenders to suit a variety of reading tastes.

“Actress,” by Anne Enright

This first laureate of Irish fiction has written seven novels, including “The Gathering,” which won the Booker Prize in 2007. Her new novel explores a mother-daughter relationship burdened by fame as the narrator recalls the tumultuous life of her late mother, a celebrated star of stage and screen.

 

“The Adventurer’s Son,” by Roman Dial

Dial, a legendary Alaskan explorer, gives a raw, gripping account of the search for his son after the 27-year-old vanished while trekking alone into Costa Rica’s remote Pacific rainforest.

 

“And I Do Not Forgive You,” by Amber Sparks

Each of the stories in this wide-ranging collection pulls off a convincing blend of the ordinary and the surreal while erupting in an array of feeling: groans of heartache, yips of delight and the rage of a woman wronged.

 

“Bird Summons,” Leila Aboulela

This elegant novel gives mischievous treatment to the classic road trip narrative, subverting a traditionally white, male genre by casting Muslim women as the rogue adventurers. In Scotland’s misty Highland forests, a trio of travelers transmogrify from wives and mothers into individual beings whose desires threaten to consume them.

 

“The Burn,” by Kathleen Kent

This deeply satisfying follow-up to last year’s Edgar-nominated “The Dime” revolves around a Dallas narcotics detective with post-traumatic stress disorder. Raymond Chandler praised Dashiell Hammett for taking crime fiction out of the drawing rooms and into the streets. Kent brings those mean streets to life as excitingly as anybody has in years.

 

“Cleanness,” by Garth Greenwell

This story collection, like Greenwell’s debut novel, “What Belongs to You,” follows an American teacher in Sofia, Bulgaria. Although the form is smaller, the scope is broader, and the overall effect even more impressive.

 

“Deacon King Kong,” by James McBride

The new book from the National Book Award winner is a hilarious, pitch-perfect comedy set in a Brooklyn housing projects in the late 1960s. But beneath the humor and the well-drawn, often eccentric characters is a story about how a community can provide a center to keep things from falling apart completely.

 

“Dear Edward,” by Ann Napolitano

Amid the wreckage of a downed jet, one passenger is found alive: a 12-year-old boy who becomes the world’s most famous orphan. Napolitano attends deftly to the endless fascination with this young survivor, letting the world’s agony and curiosity play out on the sidelines of a delicate story about one child’s physical and psychological recovery.

 

“Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line,” by Deepa Anappara

In the opening pages of this novel, Jai, a plucky 9-year-old living in an Indian slum, is presented with a macabre opportunity to practice what he calls his “detectiving” skills when a classmate vanishes. The darkness that follows is leavened by the stubborn lightness of Jai’s remarkable voice.

 

“The Escape Artist,” by Helen Fremont

Fremont’s memoir about a memoir looks back at the surprise success of her book “After Long Silence” and the rift it caused in her family. In openly confronting the consequences of telling intimate stories, Fremont takes the reader along with her on the risky moon shot that is the family memoir.

 

“The Falcon Thief,” by Joshua Hammer

Hikers and birders tend to warm up fast to others of their kind. That explains how Jeffrey Lendrum, the title villain of this entertaining and illuminating true-crime account, maintained a dual identity for decades: heroic birder and merciless thief.

 

“The Glass Hotel,” by Emily St. John Mandel

“The Glass Hotel” may be the perfect novel for your survival bunker. Mandel’s inspiration for the follow-up to her post-apocalyptic hit “Station Eleven” is Bernie Madoff’s $65 billion Ponzi scheme.

 

“Separation Anxiety,” by Laura Zigman

The light from Zigman’s novel is generated by a kind of literary nuclear fusion: an intense compression of grief and humor. A deliciously absurd tone runs straight through this novel about a depressed, middle-aged mother whose career and marriage are flailing. But things start to look up when she begins wearing her 20-pound dog in a baby sling everywhere she goes.

 

“A Woman Like Her,” by Sanam Maher

Maher’s debut tells the story of Qandeel Baloch, a woman from a small village in Pakistan who became a social media celebrity, and at age 26 was killed by her brother because he believed she was bringing dishonor to their family.

 

“Writers & Lovers,” by Lily King

The narrator of the joyous “Writers & Lovers” is a 31-year-old writer clinging to her dream of a creative life. She is an irresistible heroine, and we’re immediately invested in her search for comfort, for love, for success: a triple prize that seems entirely impossible — until, suddenly, it doesn’t

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