Best Books to Read During Quarantine


The Night Circus – by Erin Morgenstern
Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus brings the audience on a fantastical journey that follows two characters as they begin a contest neither of them knows they started. From birth, both of them were taught different schools of thought on how to manipulate the pieces in space around them. Unknown to them both, they have entered into a lifelong game where there can only be one person left standing. When they meet, they begin to wish the game could stop. Morgenstern utilizes a prose writing style that gives the novel a grounding in a far-away time period that feels real and mysteriously made up at the same time. I enjoyed this book for its writing style and the many weaving storylines. The prose writing style and the formality of the characters gave the impression that the story was taking place in the early 1900s, but the slightly magical plotline gave it a current, mysterious touch.

Legal – Suspense Thriller

The Pelican Brief – by John Grisham
The Pelican Brief follows Darby Shaw, a young law student preparing “The Pelican Brief”, who uncovers a murder conspiracy that killed the last two left-wing supreme court justices. As she gets closer to the truth and threatens to expose it, she is driven underground and forced to enlist the help of a reporter at The Washington Post. The fictional novel is a fast-paced thriller that seamlessly uses the legal case Darby is working on to explain and further the plot. First released in 1992, there is now a 1993 film adaptation that retains the suspense and plot of the book. Before reading this novel, I had not found captivating legal novels, but the suspense of the novel and the limited use of the case itself made the novel interesting to read.

Political Fiction

Exit West – by Mohsin Hamid
In an Islamic State on the edge of civil war, Nadia and Saeed meet and begin a relationship. When they hear of doors that can take them out of the country, they flee, leaving their families behind. The doors they step through bring them to new countries, where rebuilding their lives in refugee camps is not easy. The novel humanizes the perspective of a refugee and displays their journey through the creative use of doors as transportation. I have always been interested in literature on the Middle East, and I specifically thought this book was extremely creative in discussing two individuals leaving their home country. Some novels can accurately capture the stress and loneliness of leaving a home country, but it is difficult to speak about the process of leaving the country for safety concerns (many writers do not want to discuss the logistics of how they left their country). This book discussed the leaving process well with the creative use of illusive doors.


Three Cups of Tea – David Oliver Relin and Greg Mortenson
Three Cups of Tea follows Greg Mortenson as he tells the true story of his failed attempt to climb the tallest mountain in the Karakoram mountain range, K2, and being cared for by a village in northern Pakistan after taking a fall. The village’s hospitality makes Mortenson determined to return and help them with their biggest challenge: building a school. David Oliver Relin was an American Journalist who helped Mortenson transcribe and deliver his story. Mortenson and Relin have experienced accusations regarding the accuracy of some of the memoir, but there is no debate that Mortenson and his charity have done good work for the region. While reading this book, I did not know about the controversy, but after I read it and learned about the dispute, I did not feel that my opinion on Mortenson’s work was changed. It is clear that his foundation positively impacted the region and continues to do so despite questions of the accuracy of the numbers he reports. Before reading this book, I recommend reading about the disputes on his work not to influence your opinion beforehand, but to form a more well-rounded opinion while reading.


Someone to Run With – by David Grossman
Someone to Run With follows a young boy living in Jerusalem who is tasked with returning a dog to its unknown owner. As he follows the dog through the city, he meets Tamar, a singer who is looking to help her friend struggling with addiction. The journey takes them throughout Israel and uses the dog as the connection to interlace the pieces of the story. The novel was originally written in Hebrew and has been translated into over 30 languages. I thought that the novel gave a great insight into living in Jerusalem and understanding the region further. I usually read novels on the Middle East that express the perspective of an individual in an Islamic State, so I thought reading this book was a great transition to wanting to learn more about Israel.


Strength in What Remains – by Tracy Kidder
Tracy Kidder tells the true story of a Burundian man, Deo, who arrives in New York City with two hundred dollars after fleeing the violence in his home country. His story tells the hardship of being an immigrant, not understanding English, the kindness of strangers, and the power of second chances. The story is presented through Deo’s perspective and brings the reader to root for him and to celebrate his accomplishments. I have read many biographies that tell great stories of individuals, but often feel like you are reading a biography and not a story. This book does a great job of presenting a story at the same time as expressing the true narrative of an individual.