I have a long history of needing to be distracted. Chronic pain and health issues, anxiety disorder, depression. I’ve dealt with them all in various ways over the years and one thing I’ve learned is that distraction always ALWAYS helps.
Yes, we need to work. Yes, we need to volunteer and march and donate and keep up with the news. But, in your downtime, instead of doomscrolling until your skull explodes, can I interest you perhaps in some gripping book series? You know, the really sticky kind, the ones where you start the first book and the next thing you know an entire weekend has passed and you haven’t showered or eaten and you’re still wearing your tank top from Friday night with some Ewok pajama bottoms you don’t remember putting on. That type of series does me right no matter what. Even with the worst physical pain, if I can launch my brain into another world for a while, I always feel a bit better.
Maybe you will too? With that hope, I present a few of my faves:
The Silo Series by Hugh Howey: This series includes the novels Wool, Shift, and Dust. It’s dystopian, it’s post-apocalyptic, it’s sci-fi, it’s literally unputdownable. Get in there.
The Wayward Pines Trilogy by Blake Crouch: I love all of his books but this series is particularly wonderful for right now because, look, there are three of them (Pines, Wayward, and The Last Town) and they’re goooood. Will see you through a weekend at least.
The Strain Trilogy by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan: This is one of my very favorite vampire series, which you know is saying a lot considering how much vampire fiction I inhale. The books are The Strain, The Fall, and The Night Eternal and they’re all so much fun.
A Love Story Series by Christopher Moore: Oops, another vampire series but -guess what- this one’s funny! Hilarious, in fact. All three books (Bloodsucking Fiends, You Suck, and Bite Me) will delight your face off and, let’s be real, no one needs a face right now anyway.
The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness: Okay, full disclosure, there are vampires in this series. But, the main character is a badass witch lady. I love all of these novels (A Discovery of Witches, Shadow of Night, The Book of Life, and -recent add-on to the trilogy- Time’s Convert). Maybe you will too.
The Kalix MacRinnalch Series by Martin Millar: I can’t recommend these books enough. They’re so fun, so clever, and SO punk rock. Be sure to get all three: Lonely Werewolf Girl, Curse of the Werewolf Girl, and The Anxiety of Kalix the Werewolf.
The Truly Devious Series by Maureen Johnson: YA mystery at its best. I started reading these in quarantine. Read the bulk of the second one and half of the third while sitting in a hot car waiting for my geriatric dog to get some tests done. I’m extremely grateful to Maureen Johnson for keeping me entertained during a stressful time. Truly Devious, Vanishing Stair, and Hand on the Wall are the current books but a new one (The Box in the Woods) comes out next year!
The Passage Series by Justin Cronin: Holy shit, these are so good. Just writing this makes me want to dive in again. Vampires, yes. It’s vampires again. Dystopian vampires. I KNOW. But, they’re just so enthralling. Book order is: The Passage, The Twelve, then The City of Mirrors.
The Diviners Series by Libba Bray: Someone recommended these to me last year because they thought they had the same tone as my books. I don’t know if that’s true or not but I will say that I loved them. Supernatural fun times set in the 1920s. TONS of fun characters. Read all four: The Diviners, Lair of Dreams, Before the Devil Breaks You, and The King of Crows.
The Paper Magician Series by Charlie N. Holmberg: This series (The Paper Magician, The Glass Magician, The Master Magician, and The Plastic Magician) is delightful and easy to get lost in. It’s also not dark at all, so it’s a true escape in case you need that right now for some reason. Actual magicians, no sorting houses.
Those are my best recommendations. I’m sending you my love and all my vodka-soaked good tunes cute dogs happy sparkly vibes. See you at a show or a happy hour on the other side, y’all.
(I linked to Bookshop.org, a great site that supports local bookstores but, also, here’s a great list of 125 Black-Owned Indie bookstores you’ll want to check out as well.)
*pic of roses in my yard. i’ve been spending a lot of time in my yard