While in quarantine, I’ve found myself reading a lot more than usual. As an avid reader for most of my life, English major, blogger, and aspiring writer, I’ve always had a serious love for books. I covet them, I give them as gifts with personal notes inscribed on the inside; they just make me feel at home (if you’ve been reading for a while, you may remember I used to run a book club here!). However, since having kids, I haven’t had the time to read as voraciously as I once did… or much at all, honestly. And even though I have not found myself with a significant amount of extra time during this quarantine period (#momlife hasn’t exactly changed much), I have found myself more drawn than ever to reading. As my anxiety heightened and my inability to read the news and even scroll social media diminished, I realized I needed something to tune it all out other than Hallmark or HGTV.
I do have a few favorite authors, but moreso, I’m drawn to particular genres. I like a good, solid plot yet I gravitate towards lighter reads with a little bit of romance. I used to really enjoy historical fiction and though I like my books to keep their facts straight and I appreciate a historical backdrop, I really just want to read as a means to escape most times. I’ve included some of my favorite authors, books, and most (if not all) of my most recent reads here. I hope you can find something you enjoy and that lets you get away from all this craziness that is the real world right now!
I just discovered Amy E. Reichert a few months ago and I loved The Simplicity of Cider. I then went on to read The Coincidence of Coconut Cake and Luck, Love, & Lemon Pie and loved them both, too. She has a fourth book out right now, also, but I haven’t picked it up yet.
I recently finished Eligible by Curtis Sittenfield, a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice, and I really enjoyed it. The characters were obvious enough to relate to the original but there were enough twists in the plot line to make it seem like an entirely different story. I like a good, classic romance, though, and this one definitely has more of a modern feel than I’m typically drawn to.
The White Garden by Stephanie Barron. I bought this a few years ago and only recently read it. It goes into a little history about Virginia Woolf, which I really liked, but has a modern storyline with a happy ending (a necessity for me).
I loved The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins. It’s magical realism, small town, romance, and friendship all rolled into one. If you like Sarah Addison Allen or Alice Hoffman (Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic, which I loved!), you’ll like this. The second book in this series comes out in winter 2021!
I just finished Midnight at The Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber this past week and loved this, too. It’s another magical realism book (which if you’re not familiar with the genre is less Harry Potter more healing teas, message-laden dreams, and unexplained coincidences) also set in a southern small town with a little bit of romance, a lot of food, and a dose of kinship to round it out. The sequel comes out this July!
I’m currently reading I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella. It’s my first book by her but I’m almost finished it and I love it and her style of writing! It came recommended by my aunt and it’s definitely one of my more fun reads.
I also really like Kate Morton. I’ve read and loved The Distant Hours and The Forgotten Garden. Neither are particularly lighthearted but they’re not heavy enough to not sit well with me, either. I think she goes back and forth between past and present exceptionally well and she is particularly adept at winding in unexpected twists.
Anything by Sarah Addison Allen. I’ve read and loved:
Here are some less light-hearted options that I’ve either read and liked or are on my list:
Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini
Not exactly a lighthearted read but very interesting and well written. It’s exactly as it sounds, a story told by Mary Todd Lincoln’s dressmaker, and is a really cool perspective if you’re interested in historical fiction before and after the Civil War.
Molokai by Alan Brennert
I have not read this one yet and probably won’t while we’re in quarantine (it’s not particularly a lighthearted read, either), but I’ve heard really good things about it. Another kind of historical fiction, it’s written in Hawaii after Pearl Harbor and told from the perspective of a young girl with leprosy.
The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd (she wrote The Secret Life of Bees, which I have not read but I’m pretty sure it was on Oprah’s reading list).
I wouldn’t categorize it as light but it’s not overly heavy, it just has a thicker plot line and it’s a little messier than the others.
Circe by Madeline Miller
If you’re interested in Greek Mythology and feminism, this one’s for you.
Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield
I read The Thirteenth Tale by her years ago and really liked it. I remember lots of guile and twisty plot lines and it seems like this book promises the same.
If you have any recommendations, please pass them on! Especially if they’re a lighthearted read with a happy ending (bonus if it’s in the magical realism genre!). You can now shop some of my favorite books in one place here!