Still need something to do while you stay in? Tired of TV? Bored with gaming? Read a book! I know nobody asked for these, but I have them and I want to share. Even when you never go out, down time is precious and should not be wasted on boring books. So, here are some more book recommendations that caught and held my attention. I hope they do the same for you as we continue to keep our distance and wait for vaccinations to be widely available.
- The Night Swim by Megan Goldin
Imagine that the Serial podcast reporter decided to record and produce a season of the pod that followed along and reported live on the trial of Brock Turner and while she’s reporting and podding there’s a stalker leaving her letters who wants her figure out what really happened 30 years ago to her sister who definitely didn’t accidentally drown. That’s the premise of this book. So good. So infuriating.
2. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
This one is creepy and weird and I loved it. Wuthering Heights vibes, but in Mexico in the 1950s. Party girl goes to see her newly married cousin and finds herself trapped in an old, musty English style manor in the Mexican countryside, being leered at and insulted by her cousin’s in-laws. Pick it up for the Gothic Romance vibes, keep reading for love, marriage, descriptions of pretty dresses, trippy dreams (or are they walking nightmares?) debates about eugenics and eternal life. Make a friend read it too. You’ll want someone to talk to about it.
3. A Deadly Education (Schoolomance #1) by Naomi Novik
Look, we’re all over JK Rowling and her bullshit. I’m willing now to admit that Harry Potter is flawed, badly flawed, due to a combination of unfortunate factors I don’t think you need me to get into. So, instead, I would like to give you the gift of a novel about teenage witches and wizards who go to a special school to learn their craft. The main thing to know is that the school will kill you if you’re not careful, but being homeschooled as it were, is worse, because teenaged magic practitioners are just the most delicious things on the planet to all manner of creatures, and it is harder for them to eat you inside the school than it is out. We follow a witch who is destined to be a super powerful destroyer of worlds type sorceress (there was a prophecy) but she’s trying really, really hard just to get out alive, and she isn’t willing to turn to darkness to do it.
4. Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars #1) by Elizabeth Lim
More fantasy, another YA, female BIPOC author, first in a series. These may be strikes against it for some of you, but anyone who sees that and fist-pumps you are in for a treat. The story is basically Mulan meets fashion competition – girl disguises herself to compete, gets sent on a nearly impossible quest, learns how to use her magic. Plus, you know, YA stuff like figuring out who she is, and falling in love, and all that. Bonus: the sequel is already out, so you don’t even have to wait for more.
5. Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
This one is also YA, also female BIPOC author, also first in a series. Anyone who knows me knows, and anyone who looks at my first name may guess, myths and legends about King Arthur and the knights of Camelot are up there in my favorite sub-genres of fantasy, but this one! Ooooo this one is SO GOOD. This one ties together legends about King Arthur and his knights’ descendents with a young Black girl in the American south who lost her mother and now sees magic. It explores her grief and rage and the systemic oppression the South was built on and how culture informs everything.
6. A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor (The Carls #2) by Hank Green
I recommended the first book in this series last year, and if you haven’t read it yet I’d like you to go do that now. Then pick up this one. It’s some good sci-fi-humor. (editors Note, This may still be one of my favorite new series in recent memory – James Carolan)
7. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRoux by VE Schwab
We read VE Schwab’s Darker Shade of Magic books back in 2019 when we did book club podcasts. This, IMO, is even better than that series, and it’s a stand alone novel. What if you could live forever but nobody would ever remember who you are? Addie LaRoux makes a deal with the devil and then spends hundreds of years figuring out how to live with the curse of being forgotten while seeing the world, escaping her small provincial town and the life she doesn’t want there. Then, after years of being forgotten the moment she turns away from people, someone remembers her, and it completely changes everything.