EEven the most avid readers sometimes find themselves in a slump where no book seems quite right. Especially in times of uncertainty, it can be difficult to find a book that can make you put down your phone and stop doomscrolling.
If you’re in a crisis right now, pick up one (or more) of these books and see if it can help get you back on track.
Winter accountsDavid Heska Wanbli Willows
There’s nothing quite like a fast, twisty thriller to keep you turning the pages, even when you should be doing chores, working or sleeping. David Heska Wanbli Weiden winter accounts, a literary thriller set on a Native American reservation, is the perfect choice for readers looking to escape a crisis. It centers on Virgil Wounded Horse, an enforcer from the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. When law enforcement fails to act, Virgil takes the law into his own hands. After his nephew overdoses on heroin, Virgil sets out to find out how the drug gets to the reservation and how to stop their business. Winter accounts combines an unusual setting, unforgettable characters, and propulsive plot with deft exploration of criminal justice issues on reservations.
A princess in theoryAlyssa Cole
Falling in love with a series is a great way out of a reading slump because it takes the guesswork out of deciding what to read next. The Reluctant Royals Alyssa Cole’s series is a fabulous option, filled with charming characters, royal antics, and diverse, swoon-worthy love stories. In the first volume of the series, A princess in theory, Scientist and former foster child Naledi continues to receive spam emails claiming she is engaged to an African prince. She ignores them until the prince shows up at her office in New York, sparking a whirlwind romance. It is a joyful and smiling book, just like the two novels and the two short stories that follow it. As a bonus, Cole’s Runaway Royals The series is set in the same universe, giving readers even more books to binge.
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Five Tuesdays in WinterLily King
Short story collections are a surefire way to start reading again. They give readers the chance to finish a story and gain a sense of accomplishment in just a few pages. Lily King November 2021 News Collection Five Tuesdays in Winter has something for everyone – a love story, a sci-fi story, a coming-of-age story – all written with King’s empathy and wit. The latest tale in the collection, a magical realist work satirizing sexism in the publishing industry, is remarkable, but each of the stories is excellent.
The Corpse King and the Country DentistRadley Balko and Tucker Carrington
The Corpse King and the Country Dentist is both rabid and engrossing, a mix that’s sure to have you turning pages. The writers – veteran criminal justice journalist Radley Balko and founding director of the Mississippi Innocence Project Tucker Carrington – carefully document how Mississippi’s death investigation system, a relic of the Jim Crow era, maintains innocent in jail. They focus on Dr. Steven Hayne, a medical examiner who has performed hundreds of autopsies each year, and Dr. Michael West, a self-proclaimed “medico-legal dentist.” Both men have provided misleading, if not downright fraudulent, testimony at countless trials, resulting in the imprisonment of innocent Mississippians, often from poor and underserved communities, while letting murderers and rapists go free. True crime fans, in particular, won’t want to miss this one.
Looks like the TitanicJessica Chiccehitto Hindman
Looks like the Titanic is one of those books that you can’t put down because you keep thinking, “How is this real?” In it, Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman recounts her time “playing” the violin in a fake orchestra. During each performance, Hindman and his colleagues pretended to play their instruments, while a recording of music that, yes, sounded suspiciously like the soundtrack of Titanic, sounded through the speakers. It’s an absurd and fascinating coming-of-age memoir that explores the nature of truth (or sincerity) in post-9/11 America. This is one of my favorite books of the last five years.
Several people are typingCalvin Kasulke
Calvin Kasulke wrote Several people are typing, a funny satire of virtual work, entirely in Slack messages between colleagues at a New York PR firm. The form, combined with the humor of the book, makes it a quick read, ideal for starting a reading sequence. The premise of Several people are typing is admittedly bizarre: Gerald, a mid-level employee, accidentally uploads his consciousness to the instant messaging platform. Gerald asks his colleague Pradeep to help him escape and check his soulless body still sitting in his empty apartment. It’s a difficult plot to pull off, but Kasulke pulls it off. Several people are typing is a fun and timely reflection on how we connect in a digital world.
Read more: The 100 must-have books of 2021
those precious daysAnne Patchett
Essay collections offer the same benefits as a short story collection: the ability to start and finish a full story in one sitting. These Precious Days, which Ann Patchett wrote during the coronavirus pandemic, features engaging and thoughtful essays on topics ranging from Snoopy as a literary influence to the role his three fathers played in his life. The main essay focuses on Patchett’s friendship with Sooki Raphael, Tom Hanks’ personal assistant, who spent the first few months of quarantine at Patchett’s Nashville home while receiving experimental cancer treatment. It is a beautiful moving piece about life, death and friendship.
Like a sisterKelly Garrett
Kellye Garrett’s Frontline Like a sister sets the tone for the rest of the novel: “I found out my sister was back in New York through Instagram. I found out she was dead from the New York Daily News. The book’s narrator, Lena Scott, is estranged from her half-sister, reality TV star Desiree, and the hip-hop mogul father they share, and she’s convinced the official story of the death of his sister – an overdose – is fake. So Lena scours her sister’s Instagram feed for clues, finding a chasm between Desiree’s public image and real life. While the plot has its fair share of twists, Lena’s voice makes the novel shine. She alternates between interrogating suspects in her “Super Black Woman Cape” and making playful observations about music, reality TV, and more. Lena’s wit and a busy plot will grab and hold your attention.
Sheets is a moving mid-level graphic novel that can be read in a single evening, making it a great choice for ending a crisis. Brenna Thummler writes about Marjorie Glatt, a 13-year-old girl who mourns the death of her mother. Between going to school and caring for her younger brother and father, Marjorie struggles to keep the family laundromat open, a task that becomes even more complicated when a young ghost begins to haunt the business. Sheets is one of those magical books that both children and adults can enjoy. The art is beautiful; poignant story.
Read more: The 10 Best Fiction Books of 2021
Self-care is a juicy and delicious satire of a goop-esque wellness startup that makes readers think about how we behave online. Leigh Stein, drawing on her experience running a 40,000-member Facebook group for women writers, focuses on the three women behind Richual, “the most inclusive online community platform for women to cultivate the practice of self-care and change the world by changing ourselves.” The future of the once-promising company is in jeopardy after the COO tweeted a threat against Ivanka Trump, and one of its top backers is accused of sexual harassment. Self-care is both great fun to read and an incisive commentary on #girlboss feminism and influencer culture.
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