The one silver lining to this cold, snowy winter? The permission to stay indoors and read a great novel. These books have transported me out of this lockdown and into new worlds to escape the everyday doldrums. Here are my 5 favourite reads.
(P.S.: I always look to support small business first, so I bought all of these titles (online!) from my favourite independent book store in Toronto, Type Books.)
Luster by Raven Leilani
Luster is a 2020 debut novel by Raven Leilani. The book follows a Black woman in her twenties who gets involved with a fortysomething white man in an open marriage. Superbly written with provocative prose, I couldn’t put this book down the minute I opened it.
Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart
Lately I’ve been on a roll with debut novels, and this one certainly doesn’t disappoint! Shuggie Bain is the complicated, unforgettable story of a young Huge “Shuggie” Bain, a tender and lonely boy who spends his childhood in the run-down public housing of Glasgow, Scotland in the 1980s. It’s heartbreaking and completely heart-felt. This book will stay with you long after you finish it.
Deacon King Kong by James McBride
When I first started bingeing James McBride’s television adaptation of his wonderful novel, The Good Lord Bird, I knew I had to immediately pick up his next enthralling tale, Deacon King Kong. The accolades of this book run deep: It was listed as one of Time’s must-read books of 2020; and both Oprah and Barrack Obama consider it one of their favourite books to read. Set in 1960s New York, it examines the aftermath of an alcoholic’s attempted murder of a young drug dealer in the Causeway Housing Projects. I would say more, but I strongly encourage you to pick it up!
The Lightness by Emily Temple
A debut novel about a teenage levitation cult thriving in America, this is a story that mixes fairy tales with quantum physics, science with religion, and the passions of youth. Sounds complicated, and in a way it is, but it’s a fascinating exploration of faith, love, loyalty, and devotion. A truly magical read.
Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam
From the best-selling author of Rich and Pretty comes a suspenseful novel about what happens when the world seemingly falls apart and you are left with your family and a couple of strangers who cross your path. It offers commentary on race, the division of class, family, priorities and sacrifice. It’s clever, incredibly subtle and impossible to put down.