15 BOOKS TO READ WHILE IN QUARANTINE – Escape from COVID with these wonderful reads
Whether you’re already in quarantine or just heavily considering it, there are few better ways to pass the time than with a good book. And luckily for you, Scoophash’s own Thomas McKinnon is a giant nerd with some great recommendations! So snuggle up, take some medicine, get off the news and pick a book from here and get started!
Quick note, I’m seriously a massive nerd, most of these entries will be Fantasy and SciFi… Well… Okay all of them will be that. Come on, you want to escape from this world and all of the health concerns! Go into fantasy!
So here are some of the best books in 2020, most of them are from years ago but they aged like a fine wine!
15. The First Law Trilogy (Joe Abercrombie)
Possibly the best example of writing a dark and gritty fantasy story without sacrificing world building and a sense of grand adventure. Featuring some of the most detestable and yet likeable characters in Fantasy, ever! But seriously, some of these characters that you’re supposed to root for are downright reprehensible.
Nothing hurts a trilogy more than a poorly written story, luckily First Law not only avoids that pitfall but leaps over it!
The story is fantastic, engaging and the writing is a combination of breathless charisma and dark twists. Every sentence in this book leaps off the page and attacks. It is a wild ride that I cannot recommend enough.
14. The Themis Files (Sylvain Neuvel)
Ever wanted to read a book that is equal parts mesmerizing like the movie Arrival and terrifyingly surreal like War of the Worlds? No? Then skip to number 13 because this is not the trilogy of books for you.
Focusing on the story of Rose, a young researcher stumbles upon a buried metal giant. Beginning a rabbit hole of deception, discoveries, cover-ups and truths she finds herself at the center of something massive.
Rose’s story and the story of the buried giants is absolutely stunning in it’s timely themes as well as the sense of awe and wonder it leaves you with.
The books are definitely written rather strangely, at least to newcomers it will feel strange. Written as a series of interviews and journal entries, you really do get the feeling that Rose was a real person. And by the end of the third book, you’ll be left wondering if this could really happen.
13. The Magicians (Lev Grossman)
Harry Potter meets the X-Men, that’s how I would describe The Magicians. A group of troubled teens and young adults find themselves thrust into a world of secrecy, chaos and mystery.
Following the character of Quentin Coldwater who is probably the most dislikable yet real character in a modern fantasy story. And by modern fantasy I mean that this takes place in our world, just to clarify.
Along the way things quickly spiral out of control as Coldwater finds himself deeper and deeper down the hole of magic. Eventually leading to the issue of unleashing an evil entity into the world that begins a long running battle between the two.
Honestly, the biggest reason to read The Magicians is how it tackles its own maturity. These are not books meant for kids, but definitely meant for people who read Harry Potter and grew up with them. Flawed characters, mature storytelling and wonderful twists and turns for any aficionado.
12. Aurora (Kim Stanley Robinson)
This book… Really screwed with my head. I mean, it left me staring at my ceiling for a good while before I could turn over and go to sleep.
Aurora is the fictional story of mankind’s first attempt at long range deep space travel, and the issues and things they see along the way. To say much more than that, would give too much away, and I do not want to do that to you.
This book is best described as hauntingly beautiful. Written in such a way that you feel just as lonely and out of this world as the passengers. It’s beautiful, ethereal, heartbreaking and a trip that you will not soon forget. Robinson is out of this world good in Aurora.
11. The Broken Empire (Mark Lawrence)
Not for the faint of heart. Just have that in your mind as we read through this entry.
Broken Empire tells the story of one Jorg Ancrath and his focus on getting revenge for his dead father. You might think ‘oh cool, a justified revenge story’, eh no. See, his father wasn’t that great of a guy, and Jorg is infinitely worse.
Lawrence effectively makes you root for the bad guy and you don’t really realize it until about halfway through Book #2. Seriously, Jorg is a piece of work. Nonetheless, if you have a strong stomach and want to read something truly different, it’s a great read.
10. The Witcher: The Last Wish (Andrzej Sapkowski)
Want to know what inspired the first season of Netflix’s The Witcher? Well you’re in luck, because The Last Wish is not only a great fan inside look but also one of Sapkowski’s best novels in The Witcher universe.
A collection of short stories, The Last Wish follows the protagonist Geralt as he travels the world disposing of monsters. Along the way you meet new and interesting characters like Ciri and fan favorite Jaskier.
Sapkowski’s writing style is definitely a learning curve. It’s not as intricate and information overload as writers like George RR Martin but he does assume a lot of the reader. Nonetheless, if you can adapt to his writing style, The Last Wish is a great entry point to this sprawling world.
9. The Traitor Son Cycle (Miles Cameron)
One of the few sprawling epic fantasy series that actually manages to consistently improve on itself with each entry. That being said, holy hell this series is a commitment. Each entry is 600 plus pages long, the cast is immense, the world is huge and the politics are assumed.
Willing to dive into something that heavy? Good! Because the Traitor Son cycle is immensely rewarding to those brave enough to give it a shot. If you’re wondering why this entry is so light on story details its because of how dense this story is.
Trying to describe the Traitor Son Cycle to someone who has never heard of it is like trying to explain Game of Thrones in 30 seconds. And those 30 seconds have to include every detail of each chapter. It’s impossible.
8. Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling)
The only way you haven’t read these books is one of three things. One, you’ve been living without internet for your whole life. Two, you watched the movies and said ‘I’m good’. Or three, you’ve read the books and skipped this entry.
Now, if you have not read the books then now is as good a time as any! Revolving around the story of the titular character Harry Potter, the books are filled to brim with magic and rewarding storytelling.
With a long running fanbase and one of the biggest influences on pop culture and fantasy writing since Lord of the Rings.
7. Star Wars: Darth Bane Trilogy (Drew Karpyshyn)
Part of the Legends canonical stories, the Darth Bane trilogy is one of the darkest and grimmest looks into the Star War universe.
Set one thousand years before the events of A New Hope, Darth Bane’s story is one non stop thrill ride that takes you deep into the Sith. Featuring some of the greatest moments in Star Wars’ history, Darth Bane will quickly become one of your favorite villains in all of writing.
Karpyshyn’s writing takes you very quickly from one plot section to another, weaving it all together with fantastic dialogue and brutal action.
Seriously, if you thought the violence in Star Wars could never merit an R-rated film, just read these books. Bane is a serious badass.
6. This Census Taker (Chinia Mieville)
Interesting is one way to describe This Census Taker. Another word is disturbing. A series I actually compared this book to upon finishing it wasn’t another book but a video game. I got serious Half-Life vibes out of this book, if you don’t know what Half-Life is then I got nothing.
Mieville is fantastic at writing this weird but mysterious novel about a straining family and the struggles of their only son. We witness a first person perspective as he in turn witnesses things that he cannot comprehend.
There is an underlying sense of foreboding atmosphere throughout the whole book. Not classified as horror or thriller but there’s just something right around the corner that you just cannot graspe. By the end it is up to you what to interpret.
Shattered Sea trilogy is easily in my personal list of top 10 fantasy books of all time. There’s something just so intelligent and confident in the way that Abercrombie writes and explores his characters.
His way of dealing with in story tragedies and sneaking in big plot twists never fails to blow my mind.
Shattered Sea Trilogy focuses on a few primary characters.
However, it jumps around fairly quickly and by the time that one character is done, the story is told from an outside perspective. Incredibly unique and thoroughly entertaining, Shattered Sea Trilogy is easily one of the best reads this decade.
4. The Licanius Trilogy (James Islington)
James Islington is probably about to become your new favorite author if you love traditional fantasy. Very strongly influenced by the works of Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson.
The story of Davian, Asha and Wirr is one of the single most lovable trios since Aragon, Legolas and Gimli. You will fall in love with these characters and find yourself engrossed in their struggles.
Similar to the Traitor Son Cycle and the Wheel of Time series, these books are a freaking commitment. Boasting some thick numbers, huge world building, in depth characterization and huge subplots.
But, similarly, if you take the plunge it is one of the most rewarding experiences in fantasy. Cannot recommend it enough.
3. The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien
I’ll be the first to say it, compared to modern writing, these books can be a struggle to get through in some sections.
Nonetheless, as the grandfather of modern fantasy and an endless fountain of inspiration, LoTR is one of the best. Many would argue that it is the best. However, if you’ve been paying attention you’ll notice that there’s still two more entries.
Spanning several years time, Lord of the Rings takes you on an epic journey of discovery, heartbreak and heroism. The story of the One Ring and those who set out to destroy it is as iconic and memorable as the original Star Wars trilogy.
It is epic fantasy at its most efficient and one of the greatest works ever put to pen and paper.
2. The Red Rising Saga (Pierce Brown)
SciFi if it was written by an immeasurably enthusiastic Shakespeare. Buckle in, because I love these last two entries to an unrealistic amount.
The Red Rising books are something that may sound easy to read on paper, but much like I wrote in a blog entry here, it is anything but. Red Rising kicks off one of the most epic and sprawling SciFi epics in history and arguably does a better job of world building than even Star Wars.
The story of Darrow, a miner born into a dystopian type society centuries in the future, he is a lowly Color. Colors in this world are what separate the classes from each other. Red, Darrow’s color, is the lowest, they labor in mines and are told for centuries that they’re effort will be rewarded.
One day Darrow experiences something that changes his entire viewpoint and kicks off the greatest story of vengeance since Gladiator.
I could seriously fill this entire list with just things that I love about Pierce Brown’s books. This guy is incredible. And his books, even more so!
1. The KingKiller Chronicle (Patrick Rothfuss)
Okay yes, many of you will disagree with my decision on this being number one in a list of 15. However, in my defense, I’m not saying this is better than any of the other 14, just that I recommend it above the rest.
Moving on, The story of Kvothe (or Kote) is my favorite story currently being told. You read that right, currently, there is no third book so beware of that.
Kvothe is a complete enigma. Showing many times that he is an unreliable narrator who gets by on his effortless charm and fantastic ability to adapt to any given situation. There is no single other character in Fantasy that is written as effectually charming as Kvothe is. We follow him throughout his years as he learns, studies and becomes one of the greatest influential people in his history. Or did he?
As the reader you have to determine what the truth is. While Kote spins you a lovely tale, the breaks where he is unable to do certain things in the privacy of his own room raise questions. I guess we have to wait for the third book but in the meantime, there’s two masterpieces waiting to be read!
So there you have it! A long and rambling tirade of books that we think you should give a read while you’re shacked up this Spring! From thrillers to SciFi and all of the fantasy you could want, there’s no shortage of great books to read!
Be sure to leave us a comment and let us know what you would change in this list and which ones you’ve read! What are your 15 favorites? We’d love to hear it from you!