Graphic by Al McLeroy
As we live through a history lesson in the making, boredom may take roots in those stuck in their homes. Without actually leaving the house, books are a perfect way to escape to another world or time period, and vicariously live through the main character’s wild adventures. In this day and age, a physical copy of a book can be hard to come by if you’re not an avid reader, but other options pursue: audiobooks, kindles, and kindle apps. While cooped up in your home during this state-wide lockdown, here are plenty of book recommendations for those looking to escape reality.
Historical fiction is not for everyone, but as more books are released, authors are taking their own liberties in the historical fiction genre. People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks tells the story of a book conservator who travels to Sarajevo, Bosnia to restore the Haggadah – one of the oldest surviving Jewish texts – and discover how it survived centuries of use and turmoil. The story alternates between modern day and several other time periods, including World War II, 1609, and the 1400’s, following the story of the Haggadah over five centuries. It’s a fascinating read for anyone remotely interested in history. Other fascinating historical fiction reads include All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer, a novel about a blind French girl and German boy who attempt to survive the devastation of World War II, and The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin that tells the real story of one of America’s famous couples: Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
Whether it’s an old-fashioned “Who Done It?” or a psychological trip, thriller, crime and murder, mystery novels have always been a crowd favorite. New titles by up and coming authors include Sadie by Courtney Summers, Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates, and The Fever by Megan Abbott. While all unique and fascinating on their own, they all include one thing: creepy storytelling. In Courtney Summers’ Sadie, a young girl goes missing while looking for revenge after the brutal murder of her younger sister. At the same time, a popular radio personality is hunting down the real story, and that means finding Sadie. Black Chalk is one of the many murder-games-gone-wrong novels, when a group of six students get involved in a high-stakes game of humilating and personal dares. Fourteen years later, the group must unite again for the final round. While not previously mentioned, Black Chalk is very similar to Kristy McKay’s The Assassin Game. Last but not least, The Fever by Megan Abbott is a chilling story in which young girls come down with a strange illness that has all doctors and medical professionals stumped. Tom Nash is a father of two young girls, and he is determined to save his family, but how can he if the illness appears in strange, untraceable ways?
The world is becoming a more inclusive place, and authors are sharing more and more novels with main characters of different races, religions, and sexual orientations. Some of these novels are strange new takes of classics, such as Pride, where author Ibi Zoboi retells the story of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice starring all characters of color. Others are historical novels about characters struggling in the Deep South during Jim Crow laws, like Margaret Wilkerson Sexton’s novel A Kind of Freedom. Becky Albertalli has become increasingly popular in the coming years after the release of Love, Simon, the movie retelling of her novel Simon vs. the Homosapiens Agenda, because her novels include all different types of people from body shapes, sexual orientation, and race. Simon vs. the Homosapiens Agenda is the first book of three, the other two being Leah on the Offbeat and The Upside of Unrequited. Other popular LGBT+ books include Rainbow Rowell’s novels Carry On and Wayward Son, which follow a cliche story of two magic-dwelling boys who go from hating each other to falling in love.
Last but not least, the perfect genre to escape and go to another world – literally – is fantasy. Fantasy novels have become increasingly popular, and there are even book subscription sites dedicated to this genre. Speaking of which, if you or a friend are looking to buy good fantasy novels without leaving your home, consider the company Owlcrate, which will send books and other goodies to your home! They send a wide variety of new fantasy books, that come with special covers, notes from the author, and other items like candles, enamel pins, and bookmarks. Holly Black’s Folk of the Air Trilogy has been a star seller through Owlcrate, with all three titles available: The Cruel Prince, The Wicked King, and The Queen of Nothing. Each one follows Jude, a mortal girl who lives in the fantasy world of faeries who despise her. She fights to become part of the king’s court, despite society’s hatred for her. In the process, she experiences betrayals, love, and war. Other fantastical novels include Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte, Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart, and Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto.
Without leaving the comfort of home in these trying times, books are a way to escape the reality around us and experience something new for a little while at least, until we run out of pages.