During this time of uncertainty, a great way to manage boredom is to read. If you don’t want to buy books, I personally use Libby (or overdrive.com) to connect to my public library’s entire ebook and audiobook database.
This list is a combination of books I’ve read and really want to read.
In no particular order, here is my take on a well-rounded, diverse, and boredom-curing reading list:
- “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman
This adult contemporary Swedish novel (translated) centers on a disagreeable widower, Ove. He finds everyone around him insufferable, including his new neighbors who repeatedly destroy the order in his life. As you follow and learn about him, you laugh, cringe, and learn to love him as he learns to love life. I was practically sobbing at the end. (Trigger warning: attempted suicide.)
- “Scythe” by Neal Shusterman (1/3 of the Arc of a Scythe series)
“Scythe” is a world where nobody dies naturally. The only way to control the population is to be killed by a scythe. Citra and Rowan are both chosen to apprentice the scythe. If they don’t master killing, they could be at risk of dying themselves.
- “Salt to the Sea” by Ruta Sepytys
This is a young-adult historical fiction about the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff in 1945. The story is from the point of view of four refugees from different countries, all keeping life-threatening secrets and struggling to escape to freedom. (This audiobook has a full cast and is an amazing listen.)
- “And Then There Were None” by Agatha Christie
One of the best murder mysteries of all time. 10 strangers are invited to a remote island by a secret patron and are murdered one-by-one mirroring a nursery rhyme. You absolutely won’t guess who the killer is.
- “Vicious” by V.E. Schwab (1/2 of the Villains Duology)
This adult sci-fi fantasy is about two men in college who discover you can acquire powers by coming back to life from an awful death. They do just that. Alternating between past and present day, you follow Victor and Eli as they attempt to end each other, and the line between hero and villain gets hazy.
- “Norse Mythology” by Neil Gaiman
This is a short story collection that tells of Loki, Thor, and the world of Norse Gods. Each story is more intriguing than the last. You follow the gods in acquiring gifts like Thor’s hammer. You watch the gods defeat giants. You get to hear the end of the world. (The audiobook is done by the author and makes it so vivid and truly phenomenal.)
- “The Diviners” by Libba Bray (1/5 of the Diviners Series)
This is a young-adult fantasy that follows a group of teens with powers in 1920s New York City. When Evie is banished to stay with her uncle, a string of murders occur. We follow each character as they find their powers and find out who’s killing people. The book’s a little long, but the twists, the 1920s slang, and the diverse and layered characters make it worthwhile.
- “Nevernight” by Jay Kristoff (1/3 of the Nevernight Chronicles)
This adult fantasy follows Mia Corvere, who has the ability to bring shadows around herself. Because her family was murdered when she was a child, she devotes her life to finding the Red Church and becoming a Blade of the Lady of the Blessed Mother. As she fights to be one of the top of her class, a killer runs rampant picking off the competition, and the secrets of Mia’s past return. This badass novel is not for the faint of heart and will keep you on edge until it destroys you at the end.
- “Educated” by Tara Westover
Completely isolated from society, Westover’s young life consisted of living off the Earth without access to modern medicine. But ultimately was accepted to college to study history. Her story of self-education is inspirational and may be exactly what you’re looking for.
- “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern
This beautifully written adult fantasy novel follows Celia and Marco, pawns in a magical duel to the death. The setting is a beautiful colorless circus that appears out of thin air and is only open at night. With a twinge of romance and amazing characters, this book is truly magical.
- “The Hating Game” by Sally Thorne
This is a new swoon-worthy adult romance. Lucy and Joshua work in the same office and are fighting for the same promotion, but underneath their fiery competition lies more than hatred. If you’re a fan of rom-coms or hate-to-love tropes, or just want a little steam in your quarantine, give this a try.
- “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” by Benjamin Alire Saenz
This is a young-adult novel follows Aristotle, a 15-year-old struggling with his identity. He meets Dante at a pool, and Dante’s opposing look on life leads Aristotle on adventures he never anticipated. As he struggles to figure out himself in the chaos of school, family secrets, and puberty, the one constant seems to be Dante. It’s beautiful. Pick it up.