I think it’s fair to say we all might have a little extra reading time in the next few weeks. And because we need things to read now, I focused on books already published for this column. Local bookstores like The Novel Neighbor can ship your order straight to your house—way better than groceries!

been there, married that: a novel by gigi levangie
This is what most people would call a summer read, but since we’re just reaching spring, let’s call it the book you read when there is a global pandemic and you’re not supposed to leave your house. This book will not make you any smarter, but it will provide plenty of entertainment as you chuckle at a woman who is going through a divorce from a very narcissistic movie producer. Whether or not Hollywood really does have people who are ‘cuddle sleepers’ for those who struggle to sleep, I don’t know, but the book is lighthearted, ends like you would expect, and makes you happy about the choices you’ve made in your life. I promise you will laugh, and I think there is a high probability we will see this book made into some sort of movie or Netflix series. There are just too many crazy characters that need more development for it not to be on TV.

first cut: a novel by judy melinek & t. j. mitchell
If you have a queasy stomach, passed out in high school when you dissected a frog or faint at the sight of blood, don’t read this book. This is a thriller written by a former forensic pathologist and her husband who is a writer. I read it in one day and then had nightmares that night, it was that good. Dr. Teska is the newest medical examiner in San Francisco, and from her first day on the job, suspicous dead bodies show up on her autopsy table. It has lots of interesting characters, some of whom are brought to justice, some of whom aren’t. Bonus: You learn a little bit about money laundering and Bitcoin along the way. Could Dr. Teska be the next Quincy, M.E.? (Someone please get my Jack Klugman reference!)

the third rainbow girl: the long life of a double murder in appalachia by Emma Copley Eisenberg
I know, I know, I read too much true crime, but that is just one part of this unexpected book that you can’t put down. It discusses the murders of two women and the decades-long attempt to solve the case—which includes the incarceration of a man later found to be not guilty—but it’s also a biography of the author’s time in West Virginia as a VISTA volunteer. She lived in a very isolated part of the state and became part of the community. Having traveled through the small towns of West Virginia myself, I was impressed at how well she captured the people and places I saw. They are not the opioid-addicted versions we see on TV. I doubt this book will be on any bestsellers lists, but if you’re interested in wandering through a story about murder, the people of West Virginia and one woman’s quest to figure out life, you will enjoy this.

bunny by mona awad
I have never been on an acid trip, but I have a feeling this book is what it feels like. First, the reviews are outstanding and include words like “brilliant,” “sharp” and “delectable,” which is why I kept reading. I was confident that I, too, would come to find this book the same. I, however, considered it a muddled mess that I still don’t quite understand. Perhaps I am not smart enough to grasp what part of this character’s life was true as she attempted to finish her master’s program at an elite university and what was conjured up in her dark imagination. Regardless, I just didn’t get it.