By Darakhshan Roohi

What is a New Year without some great hangout plans? Since we are all stuck at home due to extended quarantines across the globe, how will you spend these long winter nights without friends and loved ones? By escaping into a book, of course!

Here are some reads I have chosen to devour while snuggling into my blanket with a good cup of coffee.

The Wife Upstairs By Rachel Hawkins

The Wife Upstairs is a modern retelling of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. Hawkins’ book discusses an indulgent, gold-digging Jane, fascinated by her lover’s late wife’s myth and legend, but set in a glamourous gated community in Alabama. 

Like in the original book, all is not what it seems, and there is a focus on the madwoman in the attic too, as the timeless tale of love and loss plays out. With almost 2000 mostly good reviews on Goodreads and twists and turns galore, you will undoubtedly be intrigued and drawn in to this story. Go get it today!

Aftershocks By Nadia Owusu

If you are looking for the next Maya Angelou, Nadia is the perfect writer for you. Aftershocks is her no-holds-barred autobiography, where she elaborates on the harrowing events of her childhood.

Set in Tanzania, the book is perfect for those who want a closer, first-person, human perspective on the African culture and the complications of growing up in a developing country and moving around the world. Even though the book does not necessarily discuss poverty and other social issues present in Africa, it examines abandonment and loss themes. Highly rated, poetic and experiential in its scope, it truly is a good read and one of the most anticipated new releases of 2021.

The Rib King By Ladee Hubbard

Are you yearning for a fresh perspective on race relations in the United States? The Rib King is the best book to help you gain some new thoughts on an ever-evolving issue. It is funny, incredibly witty and comes from an author who knows how to tell a story.

Hubbard’s allegorical novel talks about a black family of privilege and how they are fooled by their new business partner. It discusses race relations, misogyny, sexism and other myriad issues of the 21st century USA in a spectacularly brave fashion. The book has smashing reviews on Goodreads, and I am sure you will enjoy it too!

The Hare By Melanie Finn

The Hare is the perfect read for #MeToo movement fans and those who want to understand the psychology behind modern feminism. Rosie Monroe is a young lady who comes to New York on an art scholarship in the 1980s.

She meets Bennett, a Great Gatsby style conman who she marries. While she is absorbed in her domestic bliss with her newborn daughter, Bennett’s con is rumbled. She runs away with him to a remote location in Wisconsin, where her struggle truly begins.

Finn’s novel discusses women’s rights and the feminist challenge in a compelling and intelligent manner. It is an excellent read for those who like to delve deeper into modern-day women’s issues and understand their predicaments sympathetically. 

The Removed By Brandon Hobson

Are you done with all things political and looking for good old-fashioned family bonding? The Removed is a classy take on one family’s experience of losing a young member. The novel tells the story of a Native American family, the Echota, from the Cherokee Tribe, during the anniversary of their son’s death, who died over a decade ago. 

A broken family with a fractured heart must come to terms with the fact that they lost their beloved treasure and find a new way forward with love and compassion. Hobson draws heavily on the beautiful Native American culture while steering clear from politics.

It is a powerful read that helps you understand the feelings of loss and the sense of depravity that breeds in the shadow of a loved one’s tragic death. It will help you learn how to overcome such deep gashes on the soul and learn to grow closer in mutually shared grief. 

There are so many fantastic books out there, but I hope you enjoy the few titles I have listed for you. I find a good book helps me to calm down and opens the doors to my soul. If you have a good book in your hand, then you have a path to heaven.

I personally enjoy heartfelt and soulful narratives over technical and sophisticated writing. In this winter season, let’s read books that give us the warm fuzzy cosy feeling in our hearts and help us open our minds. A book that can provide a human perspective to a political experience will certainly bring life and meaning to our quarantine-ridden existence.