At present, many people are confined to their homes, unable to leave except for essential food or health runs. So we have rounded up the best books — the most insightful ones — we are reading right now to help you escape from the corona lockdown mentally and spiritually.
You’ll find winners of the Pulitzer Prize, lost classics and some of the best books of 2020 so far in our list. And while bookstores around the country have closed their doors to comply with these self-isolating, social distance times, you can still help small sellers by shopping online, or buying gift cards for those who are not currently shipping. These are the few books we enjoy in these turbulent times right now.
1. Mutations: The Many Strange Faces of Hardcore Punk by Sam McPheeters
In Mutations, McPheeters writes about his time as a member of a vibrant and unusual community, which has no apparent modern equivalent, with remarkable precision and a complete lack of sentimentality. The hardcore punk world put out fantastic albums and many more interesting characters. It was shockingly dumb, self-defeating, and with scams and inconsistencies riven too. McPheeters has always had a sharp eye for the absurd and unsparing humor for himself in his music and now in Mutations, and the consequence here is a beautiful and frank epitaph for some time and for the people who survived it.
2. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
The Goldfinch is very long and completely absorbent, ensuring you can spend extended periods of time curled up with the whole world tuned out in its cozy little universe. If you crave comfort food for the brain as you watch civilization collapse in real time around you, The Goldfinch is for you. It is nuanced but quick to read, romantic without saccharine veering, and self-indulgent just to the point of overkill.
And yeah, why don’t you shoot the film adaptation once you’re done — catastrophic as it is, it essentially translates the golden world-building of Tartt onto the screen, allowing you to stay a little longer there.
3. Feelings are Facts by Yvonne Rainer
Feelings Are Facts recounts the story of Yvonne Rainer, actor, choreographer, and filmmaker. Beginning with vivid tales of her childhood in California, this influential coming-of-age memoir records Rainer’s entry into the New York arts scene and its long-lasting influence. It is
an absolute must-read. By the end of the 466 pages packed, readers are left with not only a simple image of Rainer’s childhood, but a new understanding of the complicated love affair of the artist with pain, dance, sex, and self-acceptance.
4. Somebody’s Darling by Larry McMurtry
Larry McMurtry is best known as a Texas writer who turns out to be small stories (The Last Picture Show) and big stories (Lonesome Dove) in and around the county. But for my money, he’s just as happy a Hollywood chronicler as we have, too. Somebody’s Darlingisn’t an epic of Texas. Rather, it is a human-sized compilation of the follies that follows when people want to join the entertainment business, possibly the most calamitous rodeo of it all.
5. Open Book by Jessica Simpson
As a novel, Jessica Simpson’s recollections are evocative and funny and crisp. It’s the kind of juicy read that transports you to another world, one made up of frivolities (yes, there’s a segment on the Chicken of the Sea). But from the start it also gets intense and difficult, diving into the alcoholism of Simpson, emotionally abusive relationships, and attempts to reconcile her faith with her future.