During the first weeks of quarantine, giddy at the thought of having time to read, we loaded up on dozens of critically reviewed literary titles. But as the weeks went by and dread sank in, we craved quirkier lighter fare. Our top picks consist of an eclectic mix of heavy and lightweight reading. Not everything is Pulitzer-worthy because right now what we really need is an escape. We‘ll be adding to this list until the end of the year so please check back often. However, if you want real time updates on the books we’re loving then follow us on Instagram @thewhathq, where we post a new book every week. Follow us here.
Five Easy Pieces.
Fun to read books that you shouldn’t struggle to get into or finish. Smarter beach reads.
Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson. This book is uproariously LMAO funny. The beyond absurd plot centers on an underachieving young woman who accepts a bizarre nanny gig to care for troubled 10 year old twins who occasionally burst into flame when they get emotional. Yes, you read that correctly: spontaneously combustible children. And yet despite its sensational plot, there are poignant moments about friendship, childhood trauma, love and parenting. It might be funny but it’s not silly. And you will absolutely laugh out loud.
Pretty As A Picture by Elizabeth Little. A fun, fast-paced whodunit murder mystery that unfolds on a remote island—the on-location film set of a true crime movie in production. The cast of characters include an awkward but endearing film editor, a volatile director, teen sleuths, and other eccentrics. Perfect to read on a beach vacation or on your couch in your living room.
Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld. Imagine if Hillary Clinton had never married Bill? Would she have still soared to great heights? Would he? Curtis Sittenfeld is a great writer with an even greater imagination. Her passages of young Hillary in flagrante delicto with a handsome grad student from Arkansas are priceless. It gets a little thick in the middle, which you can skim, but overall we’re thrilled we read it (even if we thought it was under-edited). No matter what you think of HRC, you won’t be able to resist her avatar’s dazzling intelligence, dry wit, and lusty human nature.
Frankly In Love by David Yoon. This is a sweet, coming-of-age tale about a Korean American senior in high school who struggles between living up to his immigrant parents’ high expectations as well as his own. It’s a YA crossover book that my teenage daughter loved too. Themes of identity, interracial relationships, deep friendship, and the ties that bind. It’s charming, witty, bittersweet, and a walk down memory lane of first loves and growing up. It’ll make a great rom-com someday.
All Adults Here by Emma Straub. A dysfunctional family from a small town in Hudson Valley fumble to mend old rifts after their father passes and their mother comes out of the closet with her new female lover. Straub tackles sexuality, abortion, and gender identity with humor, insight, and warmth. It may not be fine literature but if you’re being driven crazy by your family right now, this book provides an absorbing escape. And, who knows … you may absorb a little compassion through osmosis.
Substantial reading about things that matter.