It’s easy to practice good social distance when you’re curled up at home with a great book! Here are some of my favorite picks of all time.
Taffy Brodesser-Akner (fiction, Random House)
Toby Fleishman and his wife have separated, and they’re going through the motions of pickups and drop-offs, trying to keep their kids’ busy Manhattan schedules intact. But when Fleishman’s wife is suddenly MIA and not answering calls, his life starts to implode around him. Mind-blowingly good in its depiction of a marriage, middle age and the life of an NYC family. It alternates between being sharply funny at times, beautifully insightful at others.
John Carreyrou (nonfiction, Vintage)
“Bad Blood” is the book equivalent of a high-speed car chase as it follows the absolutely wild story that is the Theranos scandal, wherein charismatic, black-turtleneck-wearing founder Elizabeth Holmes, lauded as the next Steve Jobs, hoodwinked pretty much everyone with her “blood testing” startup.
Min Jin Lee (fiction, Grand Central Publishing)
Casey Han is the Queens-bred daughter of Korean immigrants, back in the city after graduating from Princeton and realizing her expensive degree is no match for the credit card debt she’s racked up. As she navigates the city, trying to figure out where she fits in this privileged world, she questions what will truly make her happy.
Richard Ford (fiction, Vintage)
This Pulitzer Prize-winning beauty of a novel is the second in Ford’s Frank Bascombe trilogy, which kicked off with “The Sportswriter.” Even so, it’s readily enjoyed on its own. Ford’s writing is stunning, turning the story of a divorced real estate agent in Haddam, NJ, muddling through his days into something gorgeous and epic.
Erik Larson (nonfiction, Crown)
Larson brings life to any historical moment he concentrates on, and this book is no exception. This tells the riveting tale of America’s ambassador to Germany in 1933, a mild-mannered man named William E. Dodd, who moves with his family to a country where things are already taking an ominous turn. With great attention to detail, this book does a perfect job of describing an awful, uneasy time, and the ambassador’s attempts to warn his compatriots at home.
Hanya Yanagihara (fiction, Anchor)
“A Little Life” follows four college classmates as they move to New York. One of them, Jude, has endured unspeakable trauma in childhood. Fair warning: This is a long and absolutely devastating book that will rip out your heart and then stomp on it not once, but several times. It will be worth it, because this book is absolutely beautiful.
Will Bardenwerper (nonfiction, Scribner)
A stunning description of the last days of Saddam Hussein, taken from firsthand accounts of American guards, soldiers, government officials and more, this is a well-written, strangely moving and thoroughly researched depiction of a fascinating time and place in history.
Imbolo Mbue (fiction, Random House Trade)
Jende Jonge is a Cameroonian immigrant who came to NYC in the fall of 2007, seeking a better life for his family. He lands a job as a driver for high-powered executive Clark Edwards, and, for a while, Jende and his wife become involved with the Edwards family, living a trickle-down version of the American Dream. Then the financial world is rocked, and Jende is desperate not only to keep his job, but to stay in the US.
Ottessa Moshfegh (fiction, Penguin Books)
It’s 2000 in New York, and a privileged young woman decides to spend the year inside her apartment, subsisting on takeout and prescription pills. She has every reason to be happy and grateful, but something big is missing from her life. A darkly funny, inventive book and one we can all relate to at this point in time, given our collective hibernation.
Stephen Markley (fiction, Simon & Schuster)
One summer night in 2013, four classmates meet again in their opioid-ravaged Ohio hometown, 10 years after graduating from high school. Some have been to war and back; others have joined the Wall Street protesters at Zuccotti Park. The years have not been kind to their town, or to many of them.