• Alyssa Rogan

Seven Books to Read in Quarantine

Updated: Oct 29, 2020

So. You're stuck at home. Hopefully, you've already picked up a few books since you've been self-quarantining, but in case you're at a loss, here are a few books I've enjoyed in the past year.

The Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne

If you're looking for lush, feel-good, irresistibly-dramatic romance, this is the book for you. It's a Jane-Austen-meets-the-Bachelor-inspired romance about a space princess who encounters her ex-fiance a few years after breaking up with him. Read my review about it here for all the juicy details!

Buy it here: https://amzn.to/3aj5sq2

Any of Carrie Fisher's autobiographies

Yep. I've read all three of them. If you're a Star Wars fan, definitely give these a try. Her first book, Wishful Drinking, is the best one in my opinion. She details the origins of her childhood, including all the marriages and divorces of her A-list parents, Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher. Despite the incredible dysfunction, Fisher does not once ask her audience to pity her. Rather, she understands the privilege of having grown up in wealth and luxury.

Beyond being incredibly humble, she's outrageously funny and unflinchingly honest. She knocked me over the head with candor more than once, and she's got some stories you'll never believe.

Buy it here: https://amzn.to/2VIZPMk

Sugar and Ice by Kate Messner

This very well may be the cutest book I've ever read. The maple tree tapping, ice skating, and family moments will make you all warm inside. Sugar and Ice is about a middle school girl named Claire who gets recruited by a prestigious figure skating coach to train at the Olympic rink in Lake Placid, New York. Between her intense schedule and the prissy mean girls, Claire struggles to feel confident in her new environment.

I saw so much of my twelve-year-old self in Claire: timid, soft-spoken, and never quite sure of myself. I latched on to her immediately and held my breath every time she performed her skating routines. Mesner does a great job of raising the stakes as the competitions get bigger and the jumps get higher. There's a real sense of suspense and tension--among the girls' dynamic and the girls' inner struggles. Beyond that, there's even a mystery element: one of the girls keeps trashing Claire's stuff, so there's the lingering question of who that could be.

Lastly (I'll stop gushing about this book in a minute, I promise), there's a strong family presence. Claire's parents willingly drive her from their hometown in Vermont several times a week because Mom and Dad are her biggest cheerleaders.

Buy it here: https://amzn.to/2XKpFSU

Dancehall by Bernard F. Conners

In 1982, the body of a young woman surfaced from the freezing waters of Lake Placid. Dave, who was with the girl last before she drowned in 1962, is charged with death by electric chair... but did he really do it?

This novel is actually inspired by the real-life drowning of Mabel Smith Douglass in 1933 in the exact location Conners set his novel--the treacherously deep waters near Pulpit Rock. Douglass was discovered thirty years later in 1963 looking as though her death had occurred moments before because of the freezing temperatures.

This was one of the first mystery/suspense I'd ever read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! Conners is a former FBI agent and lawyer so some of his descriptions become long-winded or tediously specific, but I admire his expertise.

Buy it here: https://amzn.to/2RQINuF

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney

I picked up the audiobook version on a whim one day last summer, despite the fact that it was a historical fiction adult novel (which I'd never really read before). I eventually switched over to the physical copy so I could soak up Rooney's gorgeous prose one sentence at a time. I even had to keep a dictionary nearby!

This book is about an eighty-five-year-old woman named Lillian, who strolls through New York City on the last day of 1983, recollecting about her marriage, her divorce, and her career as the highest-paid woman in advertisement writing in the 1930s.

If you're looking for a high-concept, plot-driven novel, this isn't it. Rather, it's very contemplative. I loved traveling through all the decades with Lillian, experiencing with her the change in fashion, popular culture, and the treatment of women in the workforce.

Buy it here: https://amzn.to/3ezCe9u

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

I feel like most fans of historical fiction have already read this, but it's worth mentioning anyway. My dad actually recommended it to me last year and it'd been sitting on my shelve for months before I picked it up and I'm so glad I did! It's about two French sisters navigating the horrors of World War II as the Germans invade their homefront.

The third-person narration alternates between both sisters, whom we learn are polar opposite. Vianne is timid, guarded, and secretive; Isabella is brave, romantic, and a little reckless--but both are heroes in their right.

I'm not usually a fan of third-person narration or multiple points of view, but I was entirely engrossed in this book. The prose is so fluid and effortless. Despite the length, I breezed through it.

Buy it here: https://amzn.to/3eygLxN

Sadie by Courtney Summers

This book is intense. The subject matters (murder, runaway teens, rape, abusive families) are not for the faint of heart. It's about a girl named Sadie who runs away to track down her sister's murderer. Sadie's first-person narration is interspersed with a crime podcast discussing the events of the mystery one year after Sadie's disappearance. This podcast is a compilation of interviews with people close to Sadie, speculating about her whereabouts and painting a picture of the girls' home life at the trailer park.

I read this book with a knot in my stomach the whole time. In addition to the disturbing concept, Sadie's dialogue was broken with silence and stuttering. The psychological trauma is evident, casting a foreboding shadow over the whole book. Not only that, but the plot is action-packed and unpredictable.

Buy it here: https://amzn.to/2VEs8eZ

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