• R J Clark

My Favorite Quarantine Reads, volume 1

Updated: Aug 24, 2020

If you're anything like me, you're using the quarantine as a time to catch up on reading and forge ahead on writing. And if you're not like me, that's okay, too.

I set a Goodreads goal of 82 books this year, which is conservative for me but I also knew I'd go over. Two years back I set a goal of 100 books and raced through the last ten books or so that I didn't even remember reading them. Despite the time in isolation, I'm not necessarily reading more or more consistently; but I am enjoying my reading time a hell of a lot more.

As of this writing, I've read 62 of my 82 books to complete the challenge. Since I began quarantine in early March, most of those have been read in the Age of Corona. Here are a few of my favorites, so far:

1- The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones.

Part monster movie, part coming of age story, and part good old revenge story, The Only Good Indians is an extraordinary read. The prose is absolutely gorgeous written, even when the story gets horrific. It clips along at a lively pace and the final chapters are riveting. I had the privilege of hearing Jones speak at a panel during last year's New York Comic-Con, and his writing is every bit as articulate and intelligent as the man. HIGHLY recommended.

(Sidenote: the audiobook is voiced by Native American voice actor Shaun Taylor-Corbett who lends a palpable air of authenticity to the piece. Recommended listening.)

Follow SGJ on Twitter.

2- The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune

There are not enough words to express my love of this book. Pure delight. The Extraordinaries is a smart, heartfelt coming of age story and LGBTQ love story disguised as a super-hero story. What I love about Klune's writing is his dialogue. He has this amazing ability to realistically capture the style and pattern of the modern teenager in a way that never feels forced or written by the creepy old dude in the Starbucks. The story itself is a wonderfully refreshing take on the superhero genre and I wanted it to stay inside the world of the book a lot longer. Also, HIGHLY recommended for adults of all ages.

(Sidenote: the audiobook edition is a phenomenal listen, voiced by the amazing Michael Lesley. )

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3- The Fascinators by Andrew Eliopulos

A beautifully written story of love, friendship, acceptance, and magic. Eliopulos handles familiar themes adeptly and makes them feel fresh and brand new. He's created a "fascinating" world of magic that I wanted to linger in well past the story's conclusion. Comparisons to another series of books dealing with magic are inevitable, any story that deals with magic these days will be compared to the HP world, but I think what Eliopulos did here is quite remarkable: he made us care more about the characters and their plights than the magic itself. Because, really, underneath it all, that's what it's always been about—friendship.

(Sidenote: Michael Crouch performs the audiobook. Crouch is one of the best audiobook readers in the business. Take a listen, and you'll see why!)

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4- If It Bleeds by Stephen King

An exceptional collection of novellas by the master, Stephen King. "The Life of Chuck" is a real standout, but unlike most King story collections, there are no weak links in this chain. Every novella is strong, uniquely told, and wholly original. Fans of "The Outsider" will devour, pun-intended, the titular "If It Bleeds". Great to see Finders Keepers Inc. back in action. King hasn't lost his touch or his sense of humor. This is one of his strongest collections of stories in years.

Follow SK on Twitter-if you're not already!

5. Swimming in the Dark by Tomasz Jedrowski

Gorgeously written, it's as much a historical novel as it is a love story. Owes a debt to the Baldwin novel referenced throughout, but "Swimming" is entirely its own story. The novels expertly capture the turmoil of blossoming love and the political unrest in Poland and place them on a collision course at odds with each other. A wonderfully written debut, especially timely given the staunch anti-LGBTQ stance of Poland's leadership.

Very honorable mentions: The Boy From the Woods by Harlan Coben, The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune, and The Shadows by Alex North.

What are some of your favorite quarantine reads?

Keep reading, keep writing, and I'll see you on the other side.

#writingcommunity #writer #amwriting #writingtips #writingadvice #writerslife #amwritngfiction

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