The “COVID novel” has become a cliché almost as much as baking sourdough or not wearing real clothes. If you’re one of the victims of this coping mechanism or have had writing aspirations long before the global pandemic gave us all something to write about, here’s a list of books to read to feel less alone.
by Ben Lerner
Ben Lerner is a publishing darling. His most recent novel, TOPEKA SCHOOL, was on almost every list of “top books of 2019″. However, 10:04 is definitely my favorite Ben Lerner novel. It’s autofiction that essentially narrates the way Ben came to publish 10:04 after getting a book deal from a short story that appeared in the New Yorker. The major draw, besides the meta hook of a story within a novel that actually feels like a memoir, is the way Ben writes sentences. I’m an underliner by nature and gave up after the first chapter when I noticed that there were more sentences with ink underneath than ones without. Needless to say that I’ve reread this book multiple times.
by Andrew Martin
I’d call EARLY WORK a “quiet book” except for the fact that it made me laugh out loud multiple times. It’s a simple story that portrays the challenges of a striving writer in both his personal and professional life. The story feels a bit like a hinge moment book, a point where a decision needs to be made. Even though the protagonist of the novel is mostly the one to blame for making everything feel more important than it is, that quality makes this book easy to relate to. Andrew is a youngish author who is definitely going to have a long career ahead of him.
WRITERS & LOVERS
by Lily King
Sometimes we just need a low stakes novel to distract us from the real world. WRITERS & LOVERS scratches that itch while also giving you hope when you’re certain your writing career has ended before it’s even begun. It’s an uncomplicated story with surprising depth about a struggling writer and waitress who also happens to be unlucky in love. It won’t be giving too much away to say this book has a happy ending. Read when your writer’s block needs some thawing.