Virtuoso’s editorial team share the transportive tales they’re turning to during coronavirus quarantine.
On Flowers is part art book, part how-to, and part personal essay by self-proclaimed accidental florist Amy Merrick. From her home in New York City to journeys to Japan, Amy drew me in with her ultimate love letter to flowers.
– Korena Sinnett, art director
Juicy and fast-paced, Daisy Jones & the Six centers on a fictional 1970s rock band. I was so immersed in it – I heard songs in my head and got misty-eyed at the end.
If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life? The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin is a colorful and captivating story that follows four siblings’ lives over decades.
– Melanie Fowler, design director
After years of shunning historical fiction, I’ve gone all-in. (People can change!) I loved picturing the high-society drama (and the clothing) of 1940s Manhattan in Rules of Civility by Amor Towles.
I spent every spare moment I had a couple of months ago (a feat with a newborn at home) buried in Kristin Hannah’s World War II romance, The Nightingale.
Up next on my grand tour of the past: Anthony Doerr’s 2015 Pulitzer Prize-winning All the Light We Cannot See.
– Amy Cassell, manager, digital content
Alexandra Fuller’s Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight is everything you want in an adventure memoir. The true story follows a family’s travels through southern Africa during the time of the Rhodesian (now Zimbabwe) Bush War. Fuller’s voice crackles with wit and dry humor and her larger-than-life characters make for a true page-turner. I surfaced and immediately reached for her next book. There’s guerilla warfare, excruciating loss, dancing on tables, and many, many glasses of gin.
In Deep, journalist James Nestor roves from Sri Lanka to Réunion documenting one of the world’s most dangerous adventure sports: freediving. Extreme athletes and rebellious marine-life researchers show readers the fascinating potential of the human body and the mysteries of whales, dolphins, and the world’s deepest, darkest trenches.
– Samantha Faléwee, assistant editor
Thank you, Paul Theroux, for providing a vicarious road trip through Mexico, along with an honest and humane look at the plight of Mexican migrants. In On the Plain of Snakes, Theroux’s latest, readers can crisscross the length of the U.S./Mexico border and then drive deep into the Mexican hinterlands with the author as he gives voice to so many border crossers and their families while showing how “travel is less about landscapes than about people – not power brokers but pedestrians, in the long march of Everyman.”
Before my family’s sheltering in place commenced in earnest, I was grateful to discover a new (to me) independent bookstore and the author Michael Christie, whose current novel, Greenwood, offers a salient reminder of how much we need forests and trees.
– Joel Centano, senior editor
When I learned that an unpublished short story by Sylvia Plath was coming out, I had to have it. For those of us who grew up with The Bell Jar and Ariel, reading Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom feels like finding a misplaced letter from a departed friend. It’s a short read, but a beautiful experience.
An impulsive night out in Dubai turns into a globe-spanning murder mystery in The Flight Attendant, a fictional thriller by Chris Bohjalian. Read it before watching the upcoming TV show, set to star Kaley Cuoco as title character.
Let’s be honest: The best books are kids’ books. Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall tells the story of a lighthouse keeper and his family, accompanied by Wes Anderson-esque illustrations worthy of framing.
– Lara Hallock, associate editor
I inhaled A Job You Mostly Won’t Know How to Do by Pete Fromm. It begins with a tragedy and follows single father Taz, a carpenter, through its aftermath and his first two years as a parent. It’s elegantly written and set against a gorgeous backdrop of the wilds of Montana.
Anyone who loved the Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout should pick up the follow-up Olive, Again. The book’s prickly protagonist reappears, older, a little wiser, and rendered with the same deftness as in the original.
– Marika Cain, managing editor
As we fast approach Family Togetherness Saturation Point, I’m turning to my favorite humorist for a wry glimpse of dealing with his clan. The 21 stories in David Sedaris’ Calypso center around his North Carolina beach house and are packed with all the charm and absurdity readers now expect from him, grounded by tales of longing and an eye on the author’s own mortality. This is his most revealing and personal collection yet.
– Justin Paul, senior editor
I just finished Almost Somewhere: Twenty-Eight Days on the John Muir Trail, Suzanne Roberts’ memoir of her 211-mile journey from Mount Whitney to the Yosemite Valley with two other women. Reading about the challenges and discoveries this group of inexperienced hikers encountered was a great way to escape to nature from the comfort of my bed.
Next up: Four Corners: A Journey into the Heart of Papua New Guinea. Journalist Kira Salak chronicles the three months she spent as a 24-year-old exploring Papua New Guinea solo, on foot and by canoe. She became the first woman to traverse the entire country.
– Eva Seelye, social media specialist
I’m currently reading Lady Clementine by Marie Benedict with my book club. I love historical fiction, and this one from the viewpoint of Winston Churchill’s quietly forceful wife follows the Churchills’ relationship through two world wars and his political rise as Britain’s prime minister.
Melinda Gates’ Moment of Lift is an eye-opening look at the importance of women’s role in society, written with empathy and candor but backed up with impressive data and firsthand accounts of inequities – and successes – around the world. It’s a powerful read I recommend for anyone.
Elin Hilderbrand’s breezy beach reads are my guilty pleasure, but Summer of ’69 is more than just summer romance. In the privileged setting of Nantucket during the political upheaval of the Vietnam War, this family saga weaves in civil rights, race relations, and class divisions with a nostalgic dose of 1960s culture. I didn’t want it to end, and last month Hilderbrand rewarded fans with Summer of ’79, a brief postscript on the characters ten years later.
– Elaine Srnka, vice president of content