Let’s keep it light, shall we? Even if you are mentally doing okay during this weird stay-at-home time, you don’t need to read books that feel too dark or heavy. I’m an introvert who LOVES to stay home and last week I started to read a book that was really abstract and complicated. I read to page 30 and quit.
There’s a time and a place for intricate, intellectual books. For sure. It’s not good to *just* read light fluffy things. Your brain might turn into a light, fluffy blob and you could forget how to have emotions and deep thoughts. But right now? Right now when lots of people are struggling and there is anxiety and worry and unknown?
Bring on the enjoyable, light reads. Here are ones I think you’ll like right now:
Beholding and Becoming: The Art of Everyday Worship by Ruth Chou Simons
I’m starting my mornings with this breath of fresh air. Beholding and Becoming is Biblical wisdom plus beautiful artwork. I think it’s even more important than ever to start the day in some silence and reflection. This book will help you quiet your heart before things get busy. After I’m done reading, I love to just sit and take in the artwork. It’s really that good.
American Royals by Katharine McGee
I listened to American Royals in December while I was in the kitchen doing hours and hours of holiday baking. That is not a complaint, I love making cookies and candy. The more the merrier. I don’t stay in one place long enough to watch Hallmark Channel movies while I bake, so I purposefully listen to delightful, entertaining chick lit. I loved this spin on America’s royal family (George Washington wasn’t our first president, he was our first king!) and the modern-day story of his ancestors. The bad news is I had no idea this was the beginning of a series so as I neared the end (I didn’t know it was the end because audiobook) and so many things were left unresolved, I almost threw my phone. The next one comes out in September so just be prepared.
The Cactus by Sarah Haywood
This one is similar to Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (another great book!). Not the same story, but it has the same feel. I loved The Cactus. It’s awkward and wonderful. Susan’s mom has just died, and she’s trying to sort out family dynamics, relationships, and secrets. There are a few sad parts in this, but it is just so lovely and enjoyable that if you’re feeling up to it, I think this one will brighten your day, possibly even make you laugh. (This isn’t a spoiler, but Susan is an adult child of an alcoholic; this has shaped her life in profound ways–as it does–and it might be a little hard to read for someone who relates to that personally.)
Becoming by Michelle Obama
I could listen to stories from her all day long. Reading the book is enjoyable, but hearing her read her book on Audible is even better. This book made me want to read other First Lady autobiographies. I loved the history, the behind-the-scene glimpses, and the honesty of what is, on most days, a less glamorous life than it would seem. Becoming is a happy read even when some of the stuff isn’t light and fluffy.
Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee by Jeff Zentner
This is young adult fiction done well. The story is about two high school girls and their friendship. Don’t be thrown off by the male author though; I was really skeptical of this dynamic and Zentner does teenage girl relationships justice. The focus of the story is their friendship and love for each other. Two smart, funny girls who are best friends. There’s a little boyfriend romance, but it’s not the point which made me love this one a lot. I think you or your favorite YA reader will like this one.
Heartburn by Nora Ephron
Nora Ephron, am I right? I listened to this one last week, and it just THRILLED me. So clever and funny with a great storyline. This was published in the 80s, but it still holds up. The main character is a cookbook author and she tells the story of the demise of her marriage with a side of recipes and food. I can’t tell you how many times I laughed during this book which is a weird thing to say when I’ve just told you it’s about her marriage ending, but there it is. I think I’m finding a new appreciation for Ephron as I get older. As soon as I returned this to the library, I requested another one. Nora Ephron is getting me through the coronavirus. (BONUS: the audio book is read by Meryl Streep and I’m going to need her to read every single audio book I listen to from now on. I’m sure this one would be enjoyable read or listened to, but if you can get the audio book version, do not miss it.)
Everybody Always by Bob Goff
Bob Goff is just joy. He’s got a story for every situation and sees the world with such magical eyes. If you’re having even the slightest hard time loving people right now (I do when I read the news or see how some people are behaving right now), then Everybody Always by Bob Goff will get you back in the spirit of love and grace and mercy.
The Secret to Hummingbird Cake by Celeste Fletcher McHale
The Secret to Hummingbird Cake is along the lines of Steel Magnolias: southern women, friendship, marriage, and secrets. I’d describe this one as a beach read but since no one is allowed to go to the beach, read this one at home right now. There are some sad parts in this, but nothing that will destroy you.
We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby
Okay, this is not for everyone. But maybe it’s for you? Irby writes with honesty, sarcasm, and curse words. She makes me uncomfortable with her very *real* stories but she’s such a good writer, I’ll keep reading her even if I don’t want to. (That is a strange book recommendation. I’ll give you that.)
Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
Don’t watch the Netflix movie version until you read this book. Dumplin’ is a fun and empowering YA novel that adults will love too. There is some loss and sadness in here, but the end will save your heart. Afterward, you’ll probably need to download some Dolly Parton greatest hits albums.
Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married by Marian Keyes
Do you have that one book that you could read again and again just because it’s lovely and comforting? Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married is that for me. I love Marian Keyes. She was the first chick lit author I fell in love with (*gulp*) about twenty years ago, and, while I haven’t read anything from her recently, stay-at-home orders are the perfect time to get caught up or be introduced to her for the first time.
A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel
I don’t know if I loved A Girl Name Zippy because Kimmel’s a Hoosier, but her stories are thoughtful, funny, and engaging. Her childhood was eventful and her memories of it will entertain you. After you read this, read She Got Up Off the Couch about her mother and how she changed her life once her kids were grown. It’s not as light as A Girl Named Zippy, but I just love this family so much.
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
Okay, I picked this one, because it was my first David Sedaris book. (Was this his first book? That’s a good question. Google it. I’m busy.) But really, any David Sedaris book will do. If you need help finding the humor in your situation or your odd family, he will inspire you. If you just love reading smart, observant stories, he will satisfy the need. There is nothing bad about a Sedaris book, so just pick one and get started.
Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik
I’ve recommended Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons before. Don’t let the kinda lame book cover throw you off, this book about women who live on the same street and start a book club is really fun to read. There are some sad parts (really, what book isn’t going to have something sad in it), but it’s such a good story of friendship through the decades as marriages, children, and careers change. I’ve read this one a few times, and I love it more each time I do.
You Can’t Touch My Hair (and Other Things I Still Have to Explain) by Phoebe Robinson
Robinson makes me laugh. She’s crazy and can write funny/crazy well. That’s not an easy thing to do, so bonus points for her. I like this book because while it’s funny (she’s a comedian), it’s also about race and privilege and how we can all do better at some things. You Can’t Touch My Hair is a good mix of silly and serious. If you want to spend a little time during social isolation to learn and grown while being entertained, read Robinson’s book.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
You might have read this one already. It’s very intriguing. Evenly Hugo is a famous movie star who invites a no-name reporter into her home to tell her life story. The way all the people and secrets and choices come together at the end will make you gasp. This one is fun to read because it makes you wonder about movie stars and there are some themes of truth and honesty and secrets that will stay with you.
Nobody is Cuter Than You by Melanie Shankle
Remember when you could see your friends? Yeah, that was fun. I’m a big fan of Melanie Shankle’s writing; she’s funny, clever, and she can tell a relatable story. If you need a reminder that one day we’ll be able to have lunch with friends, invite them into our homes, or even take a road trip with them, this book is a fun way to remember how fun and beautiful friendship really is.
Try Softer: A Fresh Approach to Move Us out of Anxiety, Stress, and Survival Mode–and into a Life of Connection and Joy by Aundi Kolber
Disclosure: I haven’t read this book yet. I have it, and I’ve skimmed it enough to feel confident about adding it here even though I’ve not read it. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or stuck or sad, I highly recommend Try Softer. When we’re all stuck at home, mental health concerns can become more pressing. Or maybe you’ve been thinking about finding a counselor and just never made it happen and now what are you gonna do? (Answer: see a virtual therapist. It might be a safe, first step.) But this book is a good place to start too. It will help you be kinder and gentler with yourself, even as so much feels uncertain right now.
These next books are more action-related. (Maybe you should skip them? You know best.) You don’t have to do a single project while you’re home, but if you’re anything like me, you want to. It takes care of boredom, keeps me moving, and helps me combat sadness. So take these recommendations or leave them, but here they are.
Cozy Minimalist Home: More Style, Less Stuff by Myquillyn Smith
Do you have the itch to rearrange, remodel, or purge everything you own right now? *slowly raises hand* 2019 was the year of minimalizing (it’s a word, truuuust me) our house. I got rid of furniture, quieted the walls, and donated home decor I’d been keeping but not using. It made our house feel lighter and cozier. If you’d like to do that too, Cozy Minimalist Home is a great place to start. Smith has lots of idea and action steps to help you figure out how to make your home suitable for your lifestyle while also making it feel like a sanctuary. This isn’t about spending more money or getting all new stuff, it’s about using what you have in new ways and probably getting rid of some stuff in the process. If you’ve been wanting to do this and you just didn’t know where to start, this book is it.
Homegrown & Handmade: A Practical Guide to More Self-Reliant Living by Deborah Niemann
I borrowed Homegrown & Handmade from the library a few years ago and fell in love with it. If you’re feeling the itch to plant something or grow something or become less reliant on stores and single-use products during this quarantine, this book might be something fun to read. I re-read the garden/growing section every spring before I plant my garden. Eventually we’ll have some chickens so I love reading the poultry section. Niemann is a lot more extreme than I’ll ever be (I like buying soap from the store and I probably won’t ever raise meat to eat it), but she’s got lots of tips and advice for all levels. If you’re thinking about starting a patio garden or your goal is to live completely off the land, I think this book is a good place to start.
The Home Edit: A Guide to Organizing and Realizing Your House Goals by Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin
I don’t care if you don’t actually want to organize one single thing during this pandemic, just looking at this colorful and visually pleasing book will brighten your mood. Some of the organizing is a little extreme for me (and I *love* me some organizing), but the ideas and tips are fun to read. Don’t buy this because you want to pressure yourself into cleaning and organizing, buy it because it’s pretty and fun to look at. Then *if* you decide to do spring cleaning projects, you’ll be ready with some inspiration.
DISCLOSURE: Affiliate links used.