Welcome back for part two of pandemic book recommendations. On Friday, we covered non-fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, classics, and sci-fi. Today we are moving forward with the second half which encompasses: darker reads, mysteries, memoir, general fiction, and lighter reads. Without further ado.
These reads could easily find themselves in other categories, but they all generally have a sinister air about them. While they may not lighten the mood, they will grip you enough to forget about the troubles going on in your world.
Final Girls by Riley Sager
This is a fast-paced, thrilling read. It’s quite enjoyable and has a nice twist in the end. I believe it was compared to Gone Girl. While it does have the dark vibe of Gone Girl, there are actually likable characters in it, so is far more palatable in my opinion.
An Elderly Lady up to No Good by Helene Tursten
I would bet twenty bucks you haven’t heard of this book. This is an odd little tome. It’s a series of short stories all featuring the same main character Maud who is the elderly lady. And she is definitely up to no good. These are wonderfully devious little tales. It’s a tiny book, and I would highly recommend.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
This is one of the best books I have ever read, but it is extremely dark. It deals with people surviving after nuclear war/disaster. It has all the usual hallmarks of McCarthy’s writing- no quotation marks or speaker tags. It blunt and beautiful at the same time.
The Alienist by Caleb Carr
The T.V. show is dark, but the book is far darker. Nevertheless, it is riveting. For those of you interested in true crime but want a little fiction in your life, this is for you. The profiling and psychological theory behind this book are truly fascinating.
If We were Villains by M.L. Rio
A little bit of Shake sphere, a murder, a decade of confusion and hurt, and a questioning twist. This book has all the fixings for anyone who delights in a darker side of college life and the theater.
In my opinion, there is nothing better than a whodunnit. There are oodles of them out there to read, but here are a few that might get you started.
And there were None by Agatha Christie.
She is the queen and for good reason. You will be guessing to the very last page of who could possibly behind these strange but exacting murders.
Unnatural Exposure by Patricia Cornwell
Back in the day, when murder mysteries were all I read Dr. Kay Scarpetta was the shit. She certainly is in this particular book. It’s not particularly long, but the ending left my eyebrows having a nice long tête-à-tête with my hairline. However, it should be noted that this book centers on using a virus as a murder weapon. Given our current, biohazard situation anyone attempting to avoid reminders of disease and death should steer clear.
A Study in Scarlett by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
This is the first full length novel featuring Sherlock Holmes. Although it is a longer form of a Sherlock story it is not very long at all. Nevertheless, Doyle as always packs a punch in a small space. This is my favorite “full length” story involving the infamous detective.
Tell No One by Harlan Coban
This was the first book I read by Coban. It is still probably one of my favorites. It is classic in its tale and trajectory of a mystery but there is something supremely comforting in that. Coban’s easing writing style allows the reader to sit back and enjoy the ride.
The 7.5 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
If you are in the market for having your brain twisted and contorted into uncomfortable positions as you attempt to keep up with a plot, this is the book for you. It is not a quick read, but I found it incredibly satisfying and weirdly philosophical.
Until a few years ago, I hadn’t read many, if any, memoirs, but I find these stories of success or triumph engaging and encouraging. I think now more than ever we could use something to remind us that there is light on the other side of tougher or strange times.
Bossy Pants by Tina Fey
It will come as no surprise that a former writer of SNL has the ability to write a funny, easy reading, and relatable memoir. Ms. Fey tells her story and makes some good points without every verging on being preachy.
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Didion wrote this after the sudden death of her husband. It is a breathtaking portrait of grief. It displays how the human mind wrestles with loss and attempting to make sense of the sometimes senseless happenings of life.
Life will the Death of Me by Chelsea Handler
While this book is written by a comedian, I didn’t laugh. However, it is a lighter book despite the fact that Handler delves into her past and faces some of her more problematic qualities. It serious but not in a heavy or depressing way. Handler is relatable in these pages even though she discusses her unique life as apart of the rich and famous.
Call the Nurse by Mary Macleod
This book was a gift and actually got me into memoir reading. It is a series of anecdotes from a country nurse who moves to a remote Scottish isle after living near London for many years. It is a charming book.
Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
If you are looking for a little action and adventure, Into Thin Air will certainly get your heart going. The true story of an ascent of Everest and the disaster that follows is captivating and terrifying.
This would be the largest section and thus there were lots of options, but I managed to get her down to five. And if you don’t read fiction but would like to have a starting point, I hope these help.
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
This man knows how to write a book. I would recommend anything he has written, but A Man Called Ove is my absolute favorite. It’s heart-warming and funny. Backman’s writing style is easy but unique. It’s just an all-around good read.
The Ice Cream Queen of Orchid Street by Susan Jane Gilman
This was a tipsy purchase when I was doing a stay-cation with my best friend. I didn’t have high expectation when I sobered up. However, this book shocked me. It was fabulous. It had a lot of depth that I didn’t expect. It told a lifelong story in a clear and engaging way.
The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
This came out in the eighties, but still rings true to this day. It shows how perception can make everything go up in flames. It’s a longer read but well done and striking.
The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa
This tiny, little-known book is a delightful read. It is another one of my absolute favorites. The relationship between a professor with an 80-minute memory and his new housekeeper and her son is fascinating and beautiful.
Italian Shoes by Henning Mankell
My mother loves shoes, and she received this book from a colleague upon her retirement. It was not only a nice nod to her love of shoes but is a wonderful read. It is one of those sadly beautiful books that somehow despite the sadness warms you and gives you hope.
The Stand by Stephen King
Obviously, if you are steering clear of pandemic reminders this is not the book to choose. However, I consider this the best book I’ve ever read, so I couldn’t possibly cut it from the list even if this plot edges a little to close for comfort.
I’ve singled out a few darker reads so it’s only fair I do this for lighter reads as well. Particularly, since they are desperately needed. These are light, fluffy, and wonderful stories that can hopefully transport you to your happy place.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
This lovely little book is mainly told through letters. It takes place during World War two but is delightful despite the time period. How can you go wrong with secret societies and romance?
Can’t Wait to get to Heaven by Fannie Flagg
Elner Shimfissle is one of the best characters of all time. Her take on life is fantastic and comforting. If you need to feel good about the world, this is the perfect book.
The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurain
This is a delightful little read that uniquely follows an object, the President’s Hat, instead of a character for the duration of the story.
The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
This book just made me feel so good. It’s about books and moving forward from a tough past. It gives such hope that even after something tragic has happened, life will lead on to better and more wonderful things.
The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen
This is probably the epitome of a beach read or chick lit, but it is awesome. It’s perfect to keep you feeling happy and light. Charming would be the best way to describe it.
Well there you have it. Hopefully if you are looking for something to read one of these strikes you as worthy.
Until next time, happy reading!