Book Recommendations for Quarantine

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood is truly one of the best and most interesting books I’ve ever read. The book is nonfiction and details the intricacies of a murder mystery in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas. Truman’s style causes the text to read like a fictional tale, making it easy to forget that everything in the book actually happened. I will warn though, the book can be graphic and scary at times because Truman spares no details when describing the murders. As readers, we are truly able to step into this suspenseful story as Truman retells the murder, investigation, trial, and ultimate execution of the killers in depth. Overall, if you’re interested in criminal justice and prepared to feel a tad on edge, In Cold Blood is a book you should definitely look into.     

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah 

The Nightingale is a true tear-jerker. Set during World War II, the book follows the courageous yet heartbreaking journeys of two sisters trying to navigate life during the war. Both sisters, in their own ways, are able to make a positive impact on the lives of the citizens around them. The book is interesting in that the narration shifts between the two sisters, giving readers different lenses to view and understand the story from. It will be difficult to get through this book without shedding a tear so make sure to have a box of tissues nearby if you choose to read this inspiring and deeply moving story. 

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward 

Sing, Unburied, Sing is a beautiful yet tragic family drama. Ward tells the story of a family that confronts poverty, substance abuse, and racism in the modern-day south. On the surface the family’s story is already compelling, but Ward is able to further elevate their tale by adding ghosts to the plot. The addition of ghosts to the story creates a spiritual aspect to the book that forces readers to ponder life and death and how these two concepts exist in conjunction. I recommend this book if you are looking for a modern text that examines the intricacies of family pain and attachment. 

Over the Top by Jonathan Van Ness

Over the Top is the personal memoir of Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness. Although this book is not perfectly written, it is highly entertaining, especially if you are a fan of Queer Eye and/or Jonathan Van Ness. Van Ness writes in a candid and casual way that will certainly make you laugh. Despite the undeniable comedic elements of his memoir, Van Ness does take the time to discuss serious matters, like growing up as an LGBTQ man in a small midwestern town, depression, addiction, sexual assault, and living with HIV. You don’t have to be a Jonathan Van Ness fan to enjoy this memoir; His life story is interesting and inspirational regardless.  

If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin 

If Beale Street Could Talk is a classic novel from the Harlem Renaissance era. Baldwin tells the tragic story of a black man wrongfully accused of rape in Harlem during the 1970s. The story is told from the perspective of his pregnant fiance. Baldwin’s writing is elegant and filled with painful truths about the black experience during this time in our country’s history. This book is definitely one of the heavier reads on this list, but nevertheless, I recommend it if you are in the mood for a more classic piece of literature with a profoundly moving story.   

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson  

I’ll Give You the Sun is a wonderfully eccentric coming of age story. Nelson chronicles the lives of twins coping with the loss of their mother while trying to navigate adolescence. The perspective shifts back and forth between the twins, offering insight on both of the twins’ personal grief and struggles. The twins are individually quirky and dynamic--making them characters worth rooting for. Nelson successfully transforms an initially somber story into a heartwarming one by allowing her readers to feel all the emotions of growing up through her characters. This book is hard to put down once you get into it and definitely worth the read if you’re looking for a feel-good and relatable story.