With travel, dining, movies, friends, well just about everything you can think of off the table for the time being, reading is the lifeline we all need. Whether you want to escape, laugh, think, or feel, these stories can transport you somewhere else, if only in your mind.


Cornwall is a great place to escape to, and the “House of Trelawney,” by Hannah Rothschild, provides family drama, a castle, and even a love story. Absorbing and smart, this book will mos def transport you from the tribulations of the day.

Hilary Leichter could not have intuited Covid-19, could she? Her novel, “Temporary,” feels exquisitely right for this exact moment, a moment of surrealism, dislocation and loss.

“Separation Anxiety,” by Laura Zigman, is funny and completely of the moment. This is a great read for all of us feeling a bit out of sorts, and who isn’t?

Jenny Offill’s “Weather” is the perfect read for all the cool girls out there. You can pick it up and put down in bursts, between online yoga, and bouts of HGTV.

“The Friend,” by Sigrid Nunez won many a much deserved accolade, including the National Book Award. Read it and remember why writing matters.

Social satire at its finest, Kiley Reid’s “Such a Fun Age” switches perspectives on a dime, skewering everyone in its path. At the center of the storm is a wise, African-American babysitter, sandwiched between two white people with an overabundance of good intentions.

A terrific book club pick, Miranda Popkey’s “Topics of Conversation” gives you a lot to chew on. Bursting with insights about being female, being human, and the cost of friendship, Popkey gets at those niggling thoughts that keep you up at night.


Patricia Lockwood’s “Priestdaddy” combines ripping prose with a hard-to-believe life story. Not many people’s fathers are also Catholic priests (for a reason).

“How to Make a French Family,” takes a conventional trope, the desire to live abroad, and turns it into something touching and true. Samantha Verant writes with tender sweetness.

Francoise Frenkel’s rediscovered memoir, “A Bookshop in Berlin,” recounts the author’s escape from the Nazis. This astonishing tale reads like a thriller, full of twists and turns.

“How to Be a Family,” by Dan Kois, will inspire anyone and everyone looking to have kids but not give up on the adventure of life. The author picks up his family and moves from place to place, looking to find out if the grass really is greener. At this moment it practically feels like scifi.

Margaret Renkl’s “Late Migrations” is such a beautiful book, you’ll want to gift it to someone you love. Meditative and poetic, without being stuffy, Renkl gets at the meanings in life.

“The Adventurer’s Son,” by Roman Dial, follows a father as he looks for his boy, lost in the jungle of Central America. Sad and desperate, Dial still manages to maintain a heroic perspective.

Deborah Levy’s “The Cost of Living” delves into the human toll of work, even when the work is something you love. Moving on from a broken marriage, Levy examines herself inch by inch, for signs of new life.

Helen Fremont’s life from top to bottom reinforces the adage “truth is stranger than fiction.” After exploring her parents secrets in the unforgettable memoir, “After Long Silence,” Fremont comes from another angle in the heartbreaking, “The Escape Artist,” which I read breathlessly, in one sitting, watching the secrets unfold like Chinese boxes.


“Rachel Maddow: A Biography,” by Lisa Rogack gets right to everything you want to know about the liberal pundit. This is a great gift for those who love all things MSNBC.


“The Silent Patient,” by Alex Michaelides, uses a lack of speech in much the way, “A Quiet Place” does. As it turns out, the less talking, the more intrigue.

Lisa Gardner’s “When You See Me” features the inimitable Flora Dane, a female vigilante with a head for justice. The best mysteries showcase setting as much as anything else, and this small town in Georgia drips with ominous acid.

If escape is your goal, “The Prized Girl,” by Amy K. Green, will absorb you from start to finish. This small town murder tale feels very au Courant, without hitting you over the head with platitudes.

Jane Shemilt’s “The Playground” picks up the gauntlet laid by Liane Moriarity. Sharp, satirical, insightful and timely, this family drama is a page turner and a plain good read.

Another murder mystery where location plays an integral part in the story, “The Sea of Lost Girls,” by Carol Goodman, showcases Maine to the hilt. The cozy setting of an idyllic prep school belies the darkness rotting at the core.

One of the “it’ books this year, and another good one for book clubbers (keep it virtual people!), Liz Moore’s “Long Bright River” works on two levels: Read it for the pure adrenaline rush, or absorb yourself in the intricacies of the modern opioid epidemic, either way, Goodman is one to watch.


H. W. Brands’ “Dreams of El Dorado,” provides informative and gripping tales of the West. The propulsion toward manifest destiny radiates from each page and the history feels both recent and a million years ago, both at the same time.


Leslie Jamison’s “The Empathy Exams” straddles funny and heartbreaking in equal measure. Her essays about pain, the body and how we live now feel quite necessary, especially for women.