This weekend, squeeze in some time to get lost in a book. Absent a family outing or day trip on Mother’s Day, reading is the best and easiest way to leave the confines of your home during a public health crisis.
“So many of us right now have this ambient layer of anxiety coursing through us at all times. I think it’s really important to try and detach from that, and I do think books are a good way to do that,” says Emma Snyder, owner of The Ivy Bookshop in Baltimore.
Snyder says it often takes about 25 pages to really get into a book, so curl up in your comfiest arm chair or grab a seat in the sun and get ready to escape. Here are Synder’s recommendations, in her own words.
“Redhead by the Side of the Road” by Anne Tyler
To have a new Ann Tyler novel at this moment in time is such a gift. As always, she writes of Baltimore, and this time it’s the story of Micah, who fixes computers alone in his basement apartment and lives a rigidly orderly life. When his days are thrown into disorder by the messiness of other humans, Micah wakes up to the possibilities of deeper connection. Generous and hopeful, this book is a comfort right now.
“Wow, No Thank You” by Samantha Irby
You’ll laugh out loud at these essays, which offer a little bit of domesticity, a little bit of raunch and a lot of intelligence. From meetings with L.A. execs to Mason jar cooking, Irby is honest about her days—the prosaic to the spectacular. It’s a relief and a delight in a world awash in carefully curated images.
“The Actress” by Anne Enright
Let Enright’s gorgeous story of a complicated mother-daughter relationship envelop you. Katherine O’Dell, a legendary Irish actress, has performed her way through life, and Norah, her daughter, has watched. A crime by Katherine, and their shifting relationship, gives way to a braided narrative that tells both their stories with psychological acuity and lyricism.
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“The Girl with the Louding Voice” by Abi Daré
This is the story of Adunni, a young Nigerian woman, in search of an education and her own path in life. Following her from an unhappy marriage to servitude in Lagos, we’re presented with the raw dangers for young female servants there. The story is told in Adunni’s voice, and really, that’s the heart of this moving, debut novel.
“My Dark Vanessa” by Kate Elizabeth Russell
This intense debut novel charts the reverberations, years later, of a love-affair between a high school student and her 40-something English teacher. A compulsively readable exploration of power, agency and the very nature of intimate relationships.
“When you fall into a really good book, you don’t want to do anything else. It’s a tool for getting ourselves out of the surreal world we’re living in right now,” Snyder says. “And having a chance to feel instead that you’re an actress in London in the mid-20th century sounds pretty nice.”
A version of this article appeared in the May 2020 issue of Washington FAMILY.