The Best Books to Read While Social Distancing, According to Authors

In the era of social distancing, many of us have found our world shrunk down to the size of our home.  

Given the circumstances, there’s never been a better, or more urgent,time to pick up a book. Within its pages, you can slip into another reality. For the price of a book, you can find a time machine to the distant past; portals to alternate dimensions; airplanes to faraway lands. 

That’s why Oprah Magazine launched “The Book Break,” a new Instagram Story series on their Instagram account, @oprahmagazine. They are proposing that, if possible, everyone take at least a few hours a week to put down the news and pick up a book. Each week, they have a different author or book lover offering up five suggestions for books to read during this period of quarantine. 

While each “Book Break” differs in taste and genre, the picks are all chosen with the same spirit: Books to escape into, if only for a little while. Below, we’ve summarized each author’s pick for a compilation of the best books to read while social distancing during the quarantine. 

And if you’re wondering how to get new books as Amazon has deprioritzed shipments of non-essential items—including books—now is a fantastic time to support local independent bookstores.

Taylor Jenkins-Reid

If you’re looking for a page-turner, start with Taylor Jenkins-Reid’s immersive historical novels. Her novel Daisy Jones and the Six follows a ’70s rock band, from peak popularity to their decades-long dissolution. We’re already excited for the movie adaptation

Roar by Cecelia Ahearn

Cecelia Ahern wrote the movie P.S. I Love You, a clear indication that her short story collection with be both heartfelt and enjoyable. Ranging in genre and tone, each of the book’s 30 stories is a portrait of a woman at a defining moment. 

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“Some are whimsical, some are out-there, and some are more grounded—but all of them are incredibly insightful,” Jenkins-Reid said. 

The Idea of You by Robinne Lee

An actress, Robinne Lee applies her insider knowledge to this riveting romance about the perils (and delights) of dating an uber-famous person. 

“This slayed me,” Jenkins-Read said. “It’s the story of a single mom who starts an affair with a rock star in a boy band. She takes that premise and turns it into this incredible effective, moving, honest, human love story.”

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang and Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

Jenkins-Reid gave shout-outs to two of her favorite rom-coms of late. “They’re light and fun, but so well written,” Jenkins-Reid said. 

She was especially drawn to the books because of their protagonists. The Kiss Quotient focuses on a woman with autism trying to date for the first time—and is written by an author on the autism spectrum herself. Chloe Brown, the titular character in Talia Hibbert’s novel (also recommended below), struggles with chronic pain. “You’ll be rooting for these woman,” Jenkins-Reid said. 

Anna K by Jenny Lee

Not quite up to reading Tolstoy while in quarantine? No problem. Read Anna K, a sparkling YA novel, instead.

“It’s a retelling of Anna Karenina but it’s set in New York with a bunch of boarding school students,” Jenkins-Reid says. 

Christina Lauren

Christina Lauren is the pen name for writing duo Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings. Together, Billings and Hobbs make novel magic—they’ve co-written 15 bestselling novels. Their most recent book, The Honey Don’t List, came out in March.

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Educated by Tara Westover

“This book lives up to the hype,” Billings said. In the bestselling memoir, Tara Westover recounts her experiences growing up in a Mormon fundamentalist family, and home-schooled by her survivalist parents. Despite lacking a formal education, she managed to be admitted into Brigham Young University, and launched a career that took her to Harvard, Cambridge, and beyond.

“Her experience and her childhood leading up to where she is now is unlike anything that you will find out there. This book is fantastic,” Billings said.

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Hobbs and Billings recommended getting lost in an entire series—it’ll last longer. They raved about Sarah J. Maas’ adult fantasy novels, A Court of Thorn and Roses.

“The first book is an adult retelling of Beauty and the Beast. “The minute you finish it you’ll wish you had the second one right away,” Hobbs said. 

I’ll Give You the Sun and The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

“We’re cheating a little bit by recommending an author, not just books,” Billings said. Jandy Nelson is an award-winning YA author whose books will appeal to adults as well as teenagers. 

Billings describes Nelson’s novels as nothing short of beautiful. “The characters are so richly drawn. They’ll have you feeling so good about the world and life,” Billings said. 

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

Robert Galbraith is a pen name for an author better known as J.K. Rowling. The Cuckoo’s Calling is a classic detective novel. Cormoran Strike, a veteran who becomes a private investigator after returning from Afghanistan, is a character as memorable as Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot.

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“It’s beautiful and atmospheric. You’ll immediately order the second,” Hobbs said. 

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

“If you loved Hunger Games and Maze Runner, you’ll absolutely love this book,” Billings promised. Graceling is a YA fantasy novel centered around an interesting premise. 

Katsa is among the special people in her world given a gift—or a “grace,” as they’re called in the book. Hers is the ability to kill. Naturally, this means people are afraid of her. How does Katsa use her power? How does she live with using it? Read on to find out.


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