What to Read

by Chumani Chamberlain '21

Zoom, Netflix, Facetime, Snapchat, and Instagram are just some of the social platforms society is using to stay connected. Reading, however, has always been a way to occupy the mind and pass time when alone or isolated and during this time of quarantine can become a new hobby for some. Here, we are going to unpack some book suggestions from members of our community that are available in paperback and digital forms and are also available on Overdrive. Overdrive is a platform where you can sign in with your school ID/Credentials to access an abundance of Ebooks and Audiobooks for free! 


Another way to access E-books and audiobooks for free is through the Fairfax and Arlington public libraries. All you have to do it create an account through those library platforms and you will be able to access an array or E-books and audiobooks for free as well!


Fairfax online library: https://fairfax.overdrive.com/

Arlington online library: http://library.arlingtonva.libguides.com/az.php?t=14367&_ga=2.259147341.614341195.1586958649-1829104043.1586958648


Dr. Sidle’s Quarantine Reading Suggestions:

  • William Maxwell's So Long, See You Tomorrow (1980): Set in rural Illinois, two boys from different sides of town are affected by a killing in dramatically different ways. A beautiful, sad novel.

  • Claude Brown's Manchild in the Promised Land (1965): Autobiographical, coming-of-age tale of a youth in Harlem in the '40s and '50s getting into trouble and trying to get out of it. The story begins with a bang and never slows down. A powerful narrative of our time.

  • Paul Bowles's The Sheltering Sky (1949): Post WWII, northern Africa, three ex-pat Americans try to make their way as "the other" in a culture that is to them mysterious, romantic, beautiful, and terrifying. Bowles’s prose is exquisite.  

  • Yukio Mishima's The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea (1965): A group of 13-year-old boys in Yokohama, Japan adopt a radical philosophy that leads to ... A frank, sexy, poetic, unnerving tale of youth. 

  • Annie Dillard's The Abundance (2016) and Angela Pelster's Limber (2014): Two collections of creative nonfiction essays on family, everyday life, and nature. Highly enjoyable reading.

  • André Gide's The Immoralist (1902): Another story set in northern Africa about Michel, a scholar, who barely escapes death and decides to live a life of sensual and shocking nonconformity. Gide won the Nobel Prize for Literature in '47.

Ms. Ames’s Quarantine reading suggestions:


  • Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens: "Kya Clark is the 'Marsh Girl' of Barkley Cove on the North Carolina coast. Abandoned at age ten, she has survived on her own in the marsh that she calls home. A born naturalist, she took life lessons from the land, learning from the false signals of fireflies the real way of this world. Drawn to two young men from the town who were intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opened herself to a new and startling world--until the unthinkable happens. When Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya"--OCLC.

  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng: "In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned--from the layout of the winding roads to the colors of the houses to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules. Enter Mia Warren--an enigmatic artist and single mother--who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair..."--Jacket flap.

  • Educated by Tara Westover: An unforgettable memoir about a young girl who kept out of school leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a Ph.D. from Cambridge University (Amazon)

  • Becoming by Michele Obama: An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States (Amazon)

  • The Dutch House by Ann Patchett: a richly moving story that explores the indelible bond between two siblings, the house of their childhood, and a past that will not let them go. (Amazon)

  • American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins: Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable. (Amazon)

  • Funny, You Don't Look Autistic by Michael McCreary: Diagnosed with ASD at age five, McCreary got hit with the performance bug not much later. During a difficult time in junior high, he started journaling, eventually turning his pain e into something empowering—and funny. He scored his first stand-up gig at age 14 and hasn't looked back.

  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman: Meet Eleanor Oliphant: she struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she's thinking. That, combined with her unusual appearance (scarred cheek, tendency to wear the same clothes year in, year out), means that Eleanor has become a creature of habit (to say the least) and a bit of a loner...

  • The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehesi Coates: Young Hiram Walker was born into bondage. When his mother was sold away, Hiram was robbed of all memory of her but was gifted with a mysterious power. Years later, when Hiram almost drowns in a river, that same power saves his life. 


Note: Most of these are available as both ebooks and audiobooks; The Dutch House and The Water Dancer are ebooks only and American Dirt is audiobook only. ALL of them are available through OverDrive--just sign in with your student/faculty ID number.


Chumani’s Quarantine Suggestions:

  • The Testaments by Margaret Atwood: Margaret Atwood's sequel picks up the story more than fifteen years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead. In this brilliant sequel to The Handmaid's Tale, acclaimed author Margaret Atwood answers the questions that have tantalized readers for decades. Note: If you have not already you should read Handmaids tale first!

  • Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith: Ida Mae Jones dreams of flight. Her daddy was a pilot and being black didn't stop him from fulfilling his dreams. But her daddy's gone now and being a woman, and being black, are two strikes against her.

  • Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell: In this stunning book, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of "outliers"--the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different?