REVIEW: Top 10 books I’ve read in quarantine

Apparently, I’m not a fan of light-hearted reads

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Estefany Nuñez

Estefany Nuñez offers an assortment of nonfiction, gothic horror and psychological book recommendations that she’s read during quarantine. Book covers by Balzer + Bray, Viking, Bloomsbury Circus, Vintage, William Morrow and Del Rey.

Estefany Nuñez

2020 feels like those roller coasters that have you hang upside down and offer no ounce of relief.

While others experimented with sourdough starters and whipped coffee at the beginning of quarantine, I took advantage of the library’s curbside services and wide selection of e-books and audiobooks to cope with the dystopia we live in today. Thankfully, escapism has allowed me to read some amazing books this year. 

10. “Severance” by Ling Ma 

Book cover by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

This is an eerie, satirical read about capitalism, immigration and Western imperialism in the wake of a Shen Fever pandemic, a fungal infection that originated from China, and has since then thrown the world into a zombie apocalypse. This may not be the book for you if you wish to avoid COVID-19 distress — the similarities are uncanny. 

9. “She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement” by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey

Book cover by Penguin Press.

The two reporters who broke the story about Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein’s sexual abuse and harrassment write an enthralling account of their investigation and the impact of the #MeToo movement following after. Three years of thorough reporting is evident in this book. The content will simply make your blood boil and make you thankful for the great investigative journalists that remain. 

8. “I’ll Be Gone In The Dark” by Michelle McNamara

Book cover by Harper.

Before her unfortunate passing, the author spent more than a decade trying to find out who the Golden State Killer was, and never was able to see Joseph James DeAngelo plead guilty at Sacramento State’s University Union. Not only does McNamara take care to honor the victims, but also greatly details the generations of police work that went into stopping this violent serial killer. 

RELATED: Golden State Killer sentenced to life without parole in historic hearing at Sac State

7. “Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century” edited by Alice Wong 

Book cover by Vintage.

This anthology was truly eye-opening. Little do we ponder the everyday privileges that non-disabled people have, and the variety of contributors in this book provide reflective discourse that reminds readers why it’s important to read from other perspectives. 

6. “Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning” by Cathy Park Hong

Book cover by One World.

As anti-Chinese xenophobia rises amid the COVID-19 pandemic, this poet’s essay collection is an essential read for our current political climate. It is a raw and enticing discussion about history, cultural criticism and the Asian American identity. A reckoning it certainly is. 

5. “Felix Ever After” by Kacen Callender

Book cover by Balzer + Bray.

Young adult books have never been so inclusive, and this contemporary novel is already set to become an Amazon TV series. Following a transgender teen’s journey of self discovery, readers dive into a vulnerable and emotional exploration of self-love, gender identity and marginalizations in an authentic coming-of-age story set in New York City. 

4. “Mexican Gothic” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Book cover by Balzer + Bray.

Reminiscent of classic gothic horrors, “Mexican Gothic” stands out by being set in 1950s Mexico. Noemi visits her newly wedded ailing cousin and Englishman husband in their creepy, Victorian home, and horrors ensue. The terror is amplified by the atmospheric storytelling that also touches on eugenics, colonialism and sexism. It was refreshing to have a Latinx lead in the gothic genre. 

3. “Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race” by Reni Eddo-Lodge

Book cover by Balzer + Bray.

British author Reni Eddo-Lodge explains the U.K.’s history of slavery and structural racism, while also providing social context of modern-day Britain. It strikes similarities to what is currently occurring in the United States. This insightful and educational nonfiction book tackles anti-immigration sentiments, intersectional feminism and white privilege in an accessible read. 

2. “My Dark Vanessa” by Kate Elizabeth Russell

Book cover by Balzer + Bray.

For a debut, this book is dark, infuriating and brilliant. The psychological story bounces between past and present as it centers around a naive teenage girl’s romantic relationship with her manipulative teacher and the trauma she suffers from it. While absolutely repulsive and often suffocating, the book does a profound job in depicting the nuances of gaslighting, abuse and predatory older men. 

1. “Know My Name” by Chanel Miller

Book cover by Viking.

As the victim of the Stanford sexual assault that lead to Brock Turner serving three months of his six-month sentence in jail, Chanel Miller explains the trauma of reliving her assault in the court system in what is by far the best memoir I’ve ever read. Miller not only has an incredible voice, but a remarkably thorough writing style. It’s gut-wrenching, tear-jerking, powerful and deeply moving. Miller’s writing is not only distinctive, but unforgettable.