Ten Books to Read While You’re Stuck at Home

So it’s been two weeks, and you’re bored out of your mind. There’s only so much Netflix one can watch, after all. You’re sick of being on Zoom, you don’t feel like playing any more Words with Friends, and if your mother suggests one more walk with the family, you might just scream. After all, what more can one do?

Thankfully, now is the perfect time to catch up on some reading. Why not? After all, there’s nothing else to do. I could write an entire article about the benefits of reading, but for now, let’s just assume you take my word for it.

Despite being sheltered at home, there are plenty of ways to still get your hands on book. Download an ebooks app. Ask if your parents have any books they think you should read. Reread something you haven’t read in a while, or find something new.

So, where to begin? Here’s ten book recommendations to get you started while you’re sitting at home.

Book: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Description: Did you like Percy Jackson and the Olympians as a kid? I always describe American Gods as an R-rated Percy Jackson. Much like Rick Riordan’s best selling series, American Gods deals with the gods of ancient pantheons wandering around America, causing trouble. The book follows ex-convict Shadow, as he falls into the employ of a god named Wednesday, who seeks to save the old gods from the new gods of America: television, automobiles, and the Internet. The book is long, but a fascinating read, delving into the themes of the nostalgic past warring against the harsh realities of today. 

If you like this… Neil Gaiman has several other books of equal quality. Neverwhere and Stardust both delve into fantasy realms, and he has several short story collections that are deeply disturbing. 

Book: Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut

Description: While most people are familiar with Vonnegut for some of his other famous novels, (notably Slaughterhouse-Five and Cat’s Cradle) this is one of my favorites of his. The book is written as the memoir of the (fictional) character of Howard W. Campbell Jr, an American turned Nazi who, as of the time of writing the book, is sitting on death row in Jerusalem. Things, however, are more complicated than they seem, as Campbell reveals the full extent of his life story, and the double-life he has so frequently led. A book I think every high schooler should read, Vonnegut’s introduction to this book begins with one of the greatest pieces of wisdom in all of literature: “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

If you like this… Read more Vonnegut. Slaughterhouse-Five and Cat’s Cradle are both brilliant and thought-provoking, and Breakfast of Champions might be the funniest book I’ve ever read. 

Book: The Discworld Series by Terry Pratchett.

Description: I am going to go out on a limb and say the Discworld series might be the greatest fantasy series of all time. Both extremely humorous and thought-provoking, the entire forty-book series takes place on the back of a giant turtle, flying through space. I wouldn’t recommend starting with book one, (the books don’t really have an order to them), but you can’t really go wrong with any of them. Some of the best are Reaper Man (in which Death gets fired from his job and gets employment as a farm laborer), Guards! Guards! (in which a group of police officers have to solve a murder mystery in a city of wizards, assassins, and trolls), and Small Gods (where a lackluster religious acolyte gets visited by his god in tortoise form). The books are extremely strange, but very clever, and by the end often have you thinking deeper than you thought you would.

If you like this… Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman wrote a book together called Good Omens which got turned into a show in the past year. The story of an angel and a demon set out to stop the apocalypse, it’s a pretty funny read. 

Book: Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler

Description: Ranked the eighth best book of the 20th century by Modern Library, Darkness at Noon is the story of a Soviet official who is arrested and imprisoned for crimes against the USSR during Stalin’s political purges. A fascinating look into a part of history not often studied in high school, Darkness at Noon provides an engaging story about the price of power. 

If you like this… Read Animal Farm by George Orwell, a fictional representation of the Communist revolution more realistically depicted in Darkness at Noon. 

Book: The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

Description: Most students have read Bradbury’s most famous book, Fahrenheit 451. If you liked that, you might enjoy The Martian Chronicles, a collection of connected short stories dealing with humanity’s colonization of Mars, as well as the struggle with the native Martians that live there. Touching on various themes of prejudice and the evils of colonization, 

If you like this… Bradbury has several other books: The Illustrated Man, another set of short science fiction stories, as well as Something Wicked This Way Comes, two boys’ battle against an evil carnival that comes to town.

Book: Valiant Ambition by Nathianal Philbrick

Description: Did you like Hamilton? This nonfiction book deals with the time period around the musical, discussing George Washington’s struggle against the British, along with the internal struggle for power that took place within the Continental Army, as various forces (Benedict Arnold and Alexander Hamilton among them) struggle for influence and control in the new nation. 

If you like this… Read Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton (the inspiration for the musical). A long read, but a very interesting one. 

Book: Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

Description: Want some scary? This is personally my favorite King book, solely because I enjoy the monsters that terrorize the town of Salem’s Lot (I won’t spoil what kind of monster they are). The story of a man returning to his former hometown, only to find out that people have begun to disappear under strange circumstances, this book is a good classic scary story. I just wouldn’t recommend reading it too late at night. 

If you like this… Read some of Stephen King’s other works: It, The Shining, and Misery are all famous books that earn their reputation.

Book: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Description: While many people have read Of Mice and Men in their high school career, most are unfamiliar with Steinbeck’s most famous work. The story of the Joad family, a group of Oklahoma migrants trying to make their way to California and a better life, this book is one of the all-time American classics. It also touches on ideas of refugees, economic depression, and a destruction of a way of life… something I’m sure no one can relate to at the moment. 

If you like this… Steinbeck’s short novella The Pearl is another interesting story, focusing mainly on the corrupting influence of wealth on the human soul. 

Book: Watchmen by Alan Moore. 

Description: Do you like superhero movies? Alan Moore’s Watchmen is widely regarded as the greatest superhero graphic novel of all time; TIME magazine ranked it in its Top 100 books of the 20th century. Posing the question, “what if superheroes were real?” the book is filled with twists and turns, and touches on the idea of the corruption of power, 

If you like this… Moore’s V for Vendetta is another great graphic novel, about a terrorist in a dystopian world. 

Book: Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie.

Description: Did you like the movie Knives Out? The award-filming was inspired by the works of Christie (one of the best-selling novelists ever) and none of her books are more famous than this one. After a murder is committed on board a train late one night, detective Hercule Poirot is forced to discover who among a colorful cast of characters was responsible for the man’s death. Despite this being a murder, this book always makes me want to curl up with some hot cocoa; there’s a strange comfort throughout the story, as Poirot tries to discover who among the passengers is responsible. Full of intriguing twists and great characters, a good read for any mystery lovers.

If you like this… Agatha Christie wrote dozens of books, many more including Hercule Poirot as the detective. Try Death on the Nile.