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#StayHome: What to Read

As we continue to practice social distancing and/or self-isolation, I am sharing some of my favorite recent reads here to (hopefully!) help keep you sane -- or at least distracted -- during this uncertain time.

I'll be updating each list on a rolling basis: sign up for the Borealis newsletter to receive the latest updates!


If you’re into real books (i.e. non-Kindle/iPad books), please consider supporting your local bookstore(s) by ordering online or over the phone. Small businesses are struggling especially hard right now! Here are some of my recent favorites:

  • Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane: a novel about two families who live next door to each other in the NYC suburbs. Centered on the evolving relationship between Kate and Peter, childhood best friends, this one has it all: tragedy, redemption, friendship, and love. Told from the perspectives of multiple people, over many years, the character development in this book is some of the best I've read in a long time. I couldn't put it down.
  • The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel: true story about “the last hermit” -- a guy who disappeared into the Maine woods for nearly 30 years without being seen. Equal parts survival story, courtroom drama, and reflection on modern society -- and what it means to reject it.
  • Educated by Tara Westover:  yes, I’m sure 90% of you have already read this and I get it...I’m late to the party! But this (true) story of Westover’s survivalist upbringing in rural Idaho -- and breaking from her family in order to achieve higher education --  is masterfully written. It's one of those books that you find yourself thinking about months after you've put it down.
  • The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott: historical fiction about women typists at the CIA during the Cold War-era. As a former Washingtonian, I particularly enjoyed the vivid descriptions of Washington D.C. in the 1950s.
  • My Friend Anna, by Rachel DeLoache Williams: first-hand account of a Millennial woman's friendship with Anna Delvey: a mysterious New York City socialite and self-purported heiress. I'm not giving much away by revealing that Delvey was not at all who she said she was, and defrauded several friends -- including the author -- out of tens of thousands of dollars. 
  • The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure: historical fiction about a Parisian architect (surprise, surprise) who is challenged to design hiding places for Jews in Nazi-occupied France. I have to admit that I had mixed feelings about this one; it was a page-turner, to be sure, but I felt the character development was lacking. It also painted a very unflattering picture of women. But everyone seems to love the book, so maybe I'm in the minority here!


  • "The Strange and Dangerous World of America's Big Cat People" by Rachel Nuwer in Longreads. If you're watching (or hearing about) the Netflix series "Tiger King," this article adds context and dimension to the debate over exotic animal ownership. And yes, both Joseph Maldonado (a.k.a. "Joe Exotic") and Carole Baskin feature prominently.
  • "Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now" by Tomas Pueyo in Medium. I know, I know...this reading list is supposed to be about *distraction* from the health crisis. But I appreciated this article because it really helped me understand -- in layman's terms -- how pandemics start and spread, and what we can expect in the coming weeks and months. Also - lots of charts!
  • "Just Give In to Alison Roman" by Molly Fischer in New York magazine. A couple of years ago, when one of my best friends gifted me Alison Roman's cookbook, Dining In, she and I were convinced that we were among Alison's first and biggest fans (turns out she's a huge sensation among Millennials, so it's unclear if we were truly ahead of the curve there!). Anyway, Alison's philosophy is all about simple, flavorful, and unfussy food. She writes engaging, straightforward recipes, the result of which *look* very fancy and sophisticated, but are actually quite easy (and always delicious, of course).