There are few ways better to pass the time indoors than settling up with a great book. With plenty of time to dust off some old favorites or investigate some remarkable new worlds, there’s no better time than the present to fall in love with the written word. With so many options at your disposal, here is a sampling of excellent choices that will entice any type of reader.

Modern Classics

“The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead: When “The Underground Railroad” was released in 2016, it received pretty much every writing award possible and since has been called one of the best books of the last decade. For good reason, this brutal tale of the Georgian slave, Cora, trying to escape to freedom is a stark, unflinching story that feels completely new through Whitehead’s prose. There’s no better time to tackle this modern masterpiece, and if you already have, Whitehead’s latest book, “The Nickel Boys,” is equally remarkable.

“Lincoln in the Bardo” by George Saunders: After a prolific history in short story writing, George Saunders’ first novel, “Lincoln in the Bardo,” is just as great as his smaller tales. Set in a space between life and whatever comes next, Saunders follows Abraham Lincoln’s son, William, who died very young, as he navigates the afterlife. Set in one night, Saunders also tackles Abraham’s depression at the loss of his son. This experimental and decidedly strange debut is quite the journey, and if audiobooks are more your thing, “Lincoln in the Bardo” features an astounding 166 different narrators—a record for any book.

“Exit West” by Moshin Hamid: In “Exit West,” a young couple in a city fraught with civil war find out about a series of doors that will let them escape, taking them to other parts of the world. Hamid blends a compelling fable about refugees with an engrossing love story that shifts and grows as these layered characters evolve to their shifting surroundings. Hamid’s take on emigration crises around the world is as enlightening as it is captivating.

“The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt: In this modern-day epic that spans years and the country, “The Goldfinch” is told through the eyes of Theo, a boy who survives the bombing of an art museum, which kills his mother. Theo takes a small painting from the museum, a choice which haunts him for the better part of a decade. Tartt’s exquisite novel digs into art history, how the people we meet crafts who we become and the impact we leave on the world once we’re gone.

Isolation Stories

“The Road” by Cormac McCarthy: With this haunting drama, “The Road” follows a father and son as they struggle to survive in a world after an unspecified disaster destroyed most of mankind. McCarthy’s presentation of this decimated world is staggering, as is the way he writes the day-to-day attempt to simply stay alive with meager tools. But “The Road” is primarily a tale of a father and a son and the love that connects them, regardless of the horrors they must undertake.

“The Martian” by Andy Weir: In arguably the ultimate isolation story, “The Martian” centers on an astronaut trapped on Mars and his endeavor to stay alive long enough for his return home. Weir’s saga is intricately detailed in what such an adventure would take, heavily researched by Weir to be as accurate as possible. Yet even with the stakes as high as could be, Weir manages to make “The Martian” surprisingly humorous, an excellent balance to the life-or-death realities for his abandoned spaceman.

Great Series

“The Foundation” Trilogy by Isaac Asimov: In Asimov’s groundbreaking sci-fi trilogy—called the “Best All-Time Series” by the Hugo Awards—scientist Hari Seldon tries to stop an upcoming 30,000-year dark age from enveloping the galaxy. This wild universe of characters inspired both “Star Wars” and “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” and its often hilarious and strange take on the world at large makes this a wonderful series to get lost in.

“Giant Days” by John Allison: With this charming 55-issue comic series, John Allison follows three women as they navigate their new life in college. Throughout the series, Allison tackled common issues like long-distance relationships and paying for school, with a series of animators that made “Giant Days” look like a vibrant, more realistic Disney cartoon. Charming, uproarious and beautifully resonate, “Giant Days” is an excellent deep series worth the investment.

Stranger Than Fiction

“Beastie Boys Book” by Adam Horovitz and Mike D: In this massive tome to the iconic and influential Beastie Boys written by the two remaining members, Adam Horovitz and Mike D chronicle every aspect of the band’s history, from their music to their friendship. Packed with remembrances by celebrity fans and fascinating stories and photos, “Beastie Boys Book” is everything one could want to know about the three MCs in one book.

“I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” by Michelle McNamara: In 2016, Michelle McNamara died with “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark,” her story about trying to find the Golden State Killer, only partially completed. With the help of other writers, McNamara’s book was completed, which only a few months after its release, led to the capture of the killer. This shocking true crime record is meticulous in its approach to finding this monster, a search that McNamara unfortunately never got to see completed.

“The Disaster Artist” by Greg Sestero: The autobiography of one of the worst films ever made, “The Room,” written by one of the film’s stars, “The Disaster Artist” is even more insane than the film that it’s about. But Sestero’s book turns Tommy Wiseau—the film’s writer/director/actor/everything—into an uplifting and misguided man of mystery, intent on making his dreams come true, no matter how foolish they might be.

For Kids

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky: While Stephen Chbosky’s debut is a book for older kids, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is essential, nonetheless. Chbosky’s story quickly became a favorite on school’s reading lists and Chbosky’s honest look at mental illness, sexuality and the troubles of high school felt refreshing in its frankness. Chbosky made feeling like an outsider in school the norm and not an oddity with this stunning take on the difficulties of youth.

“A Series of Unfortunate Events” by Lemony Snicket: Darker than your normal kid’s series, “A Series of Unfortunate Events” starts with the Baudelaire siblings being orphaned after their parent’s die in a fire, and that’s just the beginning of the awful luck of these three kids. Yet over 13 installments, the series never becomes too morose and is always exciting, packed with twists and turns, as the kids attempt to escape the clutches of Count Olaf in his desire to steal their parents’ fortune.

Ross Bonaime is a local freelance writer, and movie reviewer for the Brightest Young Things website.

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