No excuses! It’s time to read a book!


Lauren Bedrick

Lauren Bedrick, ’21, holding up her favorite collection of books by Dale Carnegie.

Eva Janigian, Staff Writer

While stuck at home during quarantine, life (aside from remote learning) can feel boring. However, there are many ways to fill the time during the stay-at-home order — such as reading! Whether you are a bookworm or ready to begin exploring books out of desperation, here is a list (in no particular order) of essential fiction and nonfiction works to consider, as suggested by WJ students and faculty.

Dystopian novels

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (suggested by Julia Rizzo)

The Handmaid’s Tale is about feeling trapped and not knowing where to turn, which is how quarantine is starting to feel. But, at the same time, it gives you a lot to appreciate in our society, such as freedom and women’s rights, even in the face of a pandemic.”

Legend by Marie Lu (suggested by Mia Novak)

“I tend to like dystopian stories such as Legend. They fascinate and scare me because they could potentially be the future of our world. Dystopian novels are interesting because the main character usually breaks away from norms of society and creates a better world.”

The Maze Runner by James Dashner (suggested by Tyler Capron)

sub-genre: young adult, science fiction

The Maze Runner is action-packed and very thrilling! It is more young adult targeted, but it has a deep plot.”

Fantasy Novels

The Artemis Fowl Series by Eoin Colfer (suggested by Zach Nopper)

sub-genre: science fiction

Artemis Fowl has a great variety of urban fantasy tropes with a rich cast of characters and an extremely interesting title character. It deals with a teenage criminal mastermind and an underground world of fairies. It’s great if you’re looking for a longer series to read since it’s a series of eight books!”

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (suggested by Zach Nopper, Meg Resweber)

Six of Crows has a great universe and plot. The writing is impeccable, and the character development is unmatched.” (– Meg)

The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi (suggested by Tyler Capron)

Spiderwick is definitely targeted toward a younger audience, but it’s nevertheless great and action-packed!”

Junior Meredith Davis enjoys her quarantine read, Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell.

Young Adult/Contemporary Fiction

Dreamology by Lucy Keating (suggested by Brooke Massaro)

Dreamology is a book I love to reread. It keeps me on the edge of my seat!”

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (suggested by Meredith Davis)

Fangirl has been one of my favorite books for a long time. I can relate to it, and it includes a spinoff to Harry Potter in the story, which I think is cool”

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (suggested by Mrs. Varnish)

“I read Little Fires Everywhere last year and am now watching the series on Hulu. I like it!” (Fun-fact: Little Fires Everywhere is set in Shaker Heights, Ohio!)

Looking for Alaska by John Green (suggested by Tyler Capron)

“John Green is a writer for everyone. Anyone can read his novels and find them enjoyable. Looking for Alaska is a big heart wrencher.”

Papertowns by John Green (suggested by Tyler Capron)

sub-genre: mystery

“Along with Looking for Alaska, Papertowns is very detailed, so it takes time to develop the characters and establish the settings. They’re both a couple of my favorite books!”

Writers and Lovers by Lily King (suggested by Mrs. Varnish)

Writers and Lovers was a quick and good read — perfect for these times — and about a woman losing her mother, which I understand and still feel deeply.”


Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (suggested by Meredith Davis)

Eleanor & Park is a really cute love story. It’s set in the ’90s, with a great aesthetic. The ending is heart wrenching.”

The Selection Series by Kiera Cass (suggested by Brooke Massaro)

sub-genre: dystopian romance

“I’m a sucker for romance novels. The Selection Series, which consists of five novellas, is really good. It always keeps me guessing while I read.”

Horror and Thriller

The Institute by Stephen King (suggested by Julia Rizzo)

The Institute kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire time, and I would spend hours reading. It’s also about feeling trapped and scared, so it has a lot of relatable characters.”

The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp (suggested by Jillian Bremner)

sub-genres: ghost story

The Last Days of Jack Sparks is so good. It makes excellent use of an unreliable narrator, and the ending is amazing.”

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix (suggested by Jillian Bremner)

My Best Friend’s Exorcism is scary but also very fun. It’s injected with ’80’s pop culture. If you’re a fan of Stranger Things, you’ll like it.”

Junior Brianna Callahan picked Children of Blood and Bone, to help her pass the time at home.

Misc. Fiction

Airman by Eoin Colfer (suggested by Meredith Davis and Zach Nopper)

genre: historical adventure

“The protagonist is very smart and cool. All of the characters are really witty and likable.” (–Meredith)

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn (suggested by Eva Janigian)

genre: philosophical novel

Ishmael is definitely a strange book when you first pick it up. It’s about a sentient gorilla that shares Socratic discussions with a human. I swear it’s a lot better than it sounds! It explores themes of human supremacy, ethics, sustainability, and global catastrophe.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hilton (suggested by Meg Resweber)

genre: drama and coming-of-age novel

“I think The Outsiders is one of those classics that everyone should read. I really liked the message and plot.”


Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow (suggested by Eva Janigian)

genre: biography

Alexander Hamilton is a great biography for any American history buff, not just for fans of the musical of the same name. Chernow has great control over the English language and tells the story of Hamilton’s fascinating life masterfully.

#NeverAgain: A New Generation Draws the Line by David and Lauren Hogg  (suggested by Eva Janigian)

genre: non-fiction, autobiography

High school survivors David and Lauren Hogg recount their story about the Parkland attack, the aftermath, and the start of the “March for Our Lives” movement.

The Tale of Dueling Neurosurgeons by Sam Kean (suggested by Eva Janigian)

genre: historical, neuroscience

This book explores the advancement of neuroscience throughout history, with real stories of trauma and injury. I am not much of a medical-science fan, but Sam Kean’s writing is undeniably captivating and interesting.

Word by Word by Kory Stamper (suggested by Eva Janigian)

genre: autobiography, dictionary

For any fan of lexicography and etymology, Word by Word is an essential read. Kory Stamper describes her time working for Merriam Webster (the dictionary publisher) and delves into the world of dictionaries, word origins, and the English language.

Mindfulness (Take a minute to breathe during this Quarantine and battle stress)

Coming to Our Senses Series by Jon Kabat-Zinn (suggested by Mrs. Varnish)

“I’m sticking like glue to Jon Kabat-Zinn’s mindfulness practices and how they can help to heal anxiety and depression.”

Lagom: The Swedish Art of Living A Balanced, Happy Life by Linnea Dunne (suggested by Eva Janigian)

This is a great book exploring the Swedish dictum of “lagom”: not too little, not too much. There are also many great graphics throughout the book for visual readers.

 Want to revisit some assigned reading? Here are some favorites:

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

The Crucible by Arthur Miller

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Hamlet by Shakespeare

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

1984 by George Orwell