Taking covers: Your social distancing reading list 

The Virginia Festival of the Book may have been cancelled, but the sliver lining is that you can read a book any time, any place. Here are a few suggestions. The Virginia Festival of the Book may have been cancelled, but the sliver lining is that you can read a book any time, any place. Here are a few suggestions.

With the cancellation of the Virginia Festival of the Book, and recommendations to practice social distancing, there’s never been a better time to pick up some extra reading material. While we’re disappointed that we won’t get to hear from these authors in person, their work and words are still well worth your time. Whether you’re interested in fiction, non-fiction, true crime, or poetry, we have a recommendation to suit your tastes. Here’s a list of books from festival authors to keep you company at home.

Collections

Short stories have the power to open up entire worlds in just a few pages—and the stories within these collections do exactly that. 

  • Midnight at the Organporium by Tara Campbell
  • A Girl Goes Into the Forest by Peg Alford Pursell
  • The World Doesn’t Require You by Rion Amilcar Scott

Fiction

While history books often overlook the lives and experiences of women, historical fiction brings their stories to life. Pick up any of these novels to experience history alongside strong female characters.  

  • Brides in the Sky by Cary Holladay
  • Ribbons of Scarlet by Laura Kamoie
  • Call Your Daughter Home by Deb Spera

These two novels embrace characters with disabilities, providing much-needed representation for a community that is often overlooked in contemporary fiction. 

  • Like Wings, Your Hands by Elizabeth Early
  • Flannelwood by Raymond Luczak

Here are three novels that invite you to discover the impacts of contemporary diaspora, both individually and culturally. 

  • Gun Island by Amitav Ghosh
  • Travelers by Helon Habila
  • Last of Her Name by Mimi Lok

Explore the personal impacts of war on individuals, families, and communities with these two World War II-era novels. 

  • The Falls of Wyona by David Brendan Hopes
  • How Fires End by Marco Rafalà

Nonfiction

The Flint water crisis is just one example of America’s long history of environmental racism—here are two well-researched books that will enlighten you.

  • The Poisoned City: Flint’s Water and the American Urban Tragedy by Anna Clark
  • A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and Its Assault on the American Mind by Harriet Washington

More than merely looking back, well-crafted memoirs shine a light forward. These memoirs explore themes of abuse, addiction, race, gender identity, and more. 

  • Black Indian by Shonda Buchanan
  • Ordinary Girls by Jaquira Diaz
  • The Rib Joint by Julia Koets

Best-selling series

There’s a reason the following authors have all spent time on the best-seller list. These are the latest in their respective series, so be prepared to get hooked on the characters. 

  • A Bitter Feast by Deborah Crombie
  • Hi Five: An IQ Novel by Joe Ide
  • In a House of Lies by Ian Rankin

Crime and thrillers

True-crime fans can get lost in these page- turning examinations of violent crimes and how the rural communities where they occurred responded.   

  • Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep
  • The Third Rainbow Girl: The Long Life of a Double Murder in Appalachia by Emma Copley Eisenberg

If you enjoy beautifully written page-turners that will keep you guessing until the very end, here are three literary thrillers that should be at the top of your list.

  • Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
  • Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin
  • Blackwood by Michael Farris Smith

Poetry

With the right words, poets can create music on the page. These three collections promise lyrical language and thought-provoking beauty. 

  • Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky
  • What Penelope Chooses by Jeanne Larsen
  • Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry by John Murillo

Poetry written in response to tragedy, violence, adversity, and the complexity of the human experience has the power to combat despair. These three collections demonstrate why there’s no better antidote to despair than art.

  • Dispatch by Cameron Awkward-Rich
  • In the Months of My Son’s Recovery by Kate Daniels
  • The Last Love Poem I Will Ever Write by Gregory Orr

Romance

Even busy professional women need to make time for love. In these three contemporary romance novels, the protagonists attempt to balance work and love.  

  • American Love Story by Adriana Herrera 
  • Dating by the Book by Mary Ann Marlowe
  • Summer on Moonlight Bay by Hope Ramsay

 

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