(Christopher Knight / Los Angeles Times)
Orange County School of the Arts

Review: Books to cure your cabin fever during isolation

During this time in isolation, I have picked up quite a few amazing books that have made it onto my favorites list. Listed below are nine of my favorites, including their genre(s), author and my personal review.

9: “Franny and Zooey” by J.D Salinger

Genre: Fiction/Short Story

Review: I give this book 3.9 stars out of 5 because of the way Salinger created a dynamic and interesting story using few pages, and fewer settings. The story is told in two parts: One by Franny, the other by Zooey. These two characters are linked in a way that becomes clear later in the novel, and both have distinct characteristics setting them apart from so many other characters I’ve met in a book.

8: “All the Bright Places” by Jennifer Niven

Genre: Contemporary/Young Adult/Romance

Review: I give this book 4.1 stars because of the wonderfully developed characters and gripping plot. This story sends a powerful message about seeing the good in someone despite their flaws. Niven’s use of interesting and deeply flawed characters set her books apart from others that I have read. Through simple dialogue and realistic teenage actions and emotions, Niven transports her readers into the minds of two lifelike young adults.

7: “Flowers in the Attic” by V.C. Andrews

Genre: Gothic Fiction

Review: I rate this novel 4.3 stars. Published in 1979, this tells the story of four children hidden away in the attic of their grandparents house by their mother. While the plot is enthralling enough, the storytelling is phenomenal. Andrews uses simple dialect to tell the story through the mind of a young girl, trapped in the attic with her three siblings. More than anything, this novel showcases determination and the importance of family, while also highlighting prominent issues. It is the perfect novel for a book club or even just an open discussion because of the sensitive topics it touches on.

6: “The Tattooist of Auschwitz” by Heather Morris

Genre: Historical Fiction/Biographical Fiction

Review: I absolutely fell in love with this book and rate it 4.5 stars. This text is absolutely one of my favorites because it spoke to me with its messages about determination and finding joy during the darkest of times. I finished the book the same day I started it because of how harrowing yet beautiful it was. It is a book I will recommend over and over because every person can analyze it a different way. This was really a work of art and an experience, more than just words on a page.

5: “Daisy Jones and the Six” by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Genre: Novel/Historical Fiction

Rating: After reading this novel, I rate it 4.5 stars, much like the previously mentioned book, because it made me feel so many emotions while reading. Reid tells the story of an (unfortunately) made-up band called The Six, later changed to Daisy Jones and the Six with the addition of a new member. The story is told solely through the characters, as they dictate the story of the band from beginning to end. One of the reasons that this novel was so striking was because the characters were relatable in a strange way. Though they were a popular band and all famous, they still felt anger, sadness, depression, etc. This allows readers to understand and sympathize with them on a deeper level. Reid allowed me to leave my world behind and enter one of fame and raw human emotion.

4: “Holding Up the Universe” by Jennifer Niven

Genre: Fiction/Romance

Review: I rate this story 4.7 stars because of the hope that danced on the pages, the hurt and then the pure joy I felt while devouring “Holding Up the Universe.” Telling the story from two different points of view, much like her other novel on this list, the story focuses on two teenagers, each with their own defining flaw. The female protagonist is extremely overweight, and dealt with a traumatizing event in her past, which she is remembered for at her high school. The male protagonist has prosopagnosia, the inability to recognize familiar faces. These characters meet and, seeing as this is a romance, fall in love. The reason this story is so high on my list is that the novel promotes the fact that your flaws, mental or physical illnesses, and past do not define who you are. Niven tells the coming-of-age story of finding out who you truly are, and choosing how you see yourself.

3: “The Virgin Suicides” by Jeffrey Eugenides

Genre: Fiction

Review: This is a touching and intriguing story that I rate 4.8 stars. Eugenides is a brilliant writer who told the story from the perspective of the boys who live across the street from the five Lisbon sisters, who are each strange in their own unique way. This book has the hidden message of falling in love with the idea of someone, not the real them. It also showcases the real feelings of first love and unrequited crushes.

2: “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern

Genre: Fantasy/Adult Fiction

Review: 5 stars! This book is tied with my first favorite because it is so addicting and thrilling. It tells the story of two magicians who have spent their lives preparing for a duel they don’t know the rules to or who their opponents are. If that isn’t interesting enough, the location for their duel is a traveling circus that only appears at night. This is a fantasy, romance and mystery all rolled into one fantastically written novel. It is gripping, stunning, and just the right amount magical. I fell in love with this book by the end of chapter one, and it feels like a story I could never tire of. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to escape their current lives for a while, and escape to this wonderful and mysterious setting.

1: “The Princess Bride” by William Goldman

Genre: Fantasy/ Romance

Review: 5! Stars! I absolutely adore this book — it is just like the movie, which is one of my favorites, but it includes more detail, backstory and information. The romance is one of, if not my favorite, of all time in a novel. Buttercup and Westley have such a deep understanding of one another, and the story has the right amount of romance with just enough action and violence. The novel is not gory but has thrilling elements of poison, sword fighting and other action-packed scenes that made it irresistible. I hold this novel very close to my heart, and it absolutely took me to another world of true-love, miracles and revenge.