Feel like your attention span has gotten shorter? Then these engrossing books are for you.

By Katherine Morgan
July 20, 2020
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courtesy of publishers

Is anyone else having a difficult time trying to focus lately, especially when it comes to cracking open a book? You’re not alone. Lately I have found myself staring more at my television or scrolling through social media (thanks, Screen Time, for telling me just how long I spent on my phone Friday night) than reading, which is frustrating to say the least. I pride myself on loving to read, but it’s been hard. I can openly admit that. The good news is that I have no problem purchasing books—I have officially run out of space on my bookshelf, which makes me happy because I’m supporting independent bookstores, but panicked because the idea of moving boxes of books exhausts me—so I have many options to choose from. I’m finally gaining my attention span back and making my way through my library. While I may no longer work as a bookseller, it turns out that I still love recommending books for every occasion and every emotion. The following 15 books are titles that helped me slowly but surely get back into reading, and I hope that they help you too.

Amazon

Believe me when I say this: Godshot is one of the best debuts that I’ve read in a really long time. It has everything that you can ever want in a novel: a gold glittery cover that won’t end up covering your hands as you hold it; feelings of abandonment by a parental figure; cults; female friendship; humor with a bitter edge to it, and the belief that you can only try to save others for so long before you save yourself.

To buy: Amazon.com or bookshop.org

Amazon

Irby is an absolute gem. You can read any of her books—her other titles include We are Never Meeting in Real Life and Meaty—and find yourself gasping for air throughout them all. Irby takes the world’s trash and makes it into her own personal treasure, which makes me feel less alone in this troubled world. That’s something that we can all use right now.

To buy: Amazon.com and bookshop.org.

Amazon

After hearing about this book and devouring it, I vowed to read a lot more romance novels where the characters are LGBTQ+, and I have discovered some really great titles. Red, White and Royal Blue is so charming, so romantic, so steamy, that you may have a hard time putting it down. I love a good “enemies to lovers” trope, so reading about Alex—the son of the first female president of the United States—fighting, and later, falling in love with Prince Henry of Wales made my heart swoon. You’ll fall in love with them too.

To buy: Amazon.com and bookshop.org.

Amazon

While this book isn’t out just yet (release date is scheduled for August 25), I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy. Let me tell you: I laughed so hard because Mania has such a way with one-liners. A memoir that focuses on Mania’s childhood; being outed by social media to his Polish immigrant parents and coming of age in the NYC club scene, Born to Be Public is an absolute treat.

To buy: Amazon.com and bookshop.org.

Amazon

The photos in this cookbook are so beautiful that I found myself wanting to tear out the pages and eat them myself. I’m cooking a lot more during this time period, and frankly, I was running out of ideas before I started attempting the recipes in this book. So much cheese! Such gorgeous photos! What great cocktails! OK, I’m hungry again, so I’ll stop here.

To buy: Amazon.com and bookshop.org.

Amazon

Reading this book was an absolute joy because it doesn’t portray Rogers as a hero or a god, like most articles and books do. Instead, it shows how someone so common can be so remarkable and it was simply because he was kind, passionate, and cared about children. It reminded me that there is still good in this world. We all need to remember that, you know?

To buy: Amazon.com and bookshop.org.

Amazon

Every time I read a Jasmine Guillory romance novel, it reminds me that love exists, and that I, a Black woman, deserve it just as much as anyone else. Party of Two focuses on Olivia Monroe’s whirlwind romance with Max Powell, who just happens to be the junior senator of California. Guillory doesn’t hide from talking about what Black women face when they’re scrutinized by the public, which only makes me love her books more. This book just came out and I’m already waiting for her to announce a new one.

To buy: Amazon.com and bookshop.org.

Amazon

Writers & Lovers is for all of the writers who are currently attempting to finish their books even though it’s been longer than they had hoped and everyone is expecting them to “get a real job now.” If you’re interested in reading about a smart, vulnerable, and painstakingly real protagonist who is dealing with the passing of her mother and a crushing breakup while still trying to put her best work out there, then you have chosen the right book.

To buy: Amazon.com and bookshop.org.

Amazon

I couldn’t put this book down. That cover alone should inspire you to put it in your cart immediately. What better time to read about the toxic wellness industry that we love to hate as we scroll through our Instagram feeds? Written as a satirical novel, this book is truly picture-perfect. Double tap to like.

To buy: Amazon.com and bookshop.org.

Amazon

Boy Oh Boy truly crawled its way into my heart. In this queer short story and flash fiction collection, Doss focuses on the idea of loneliness and desire, and asks readers to come with him on the journey of how we attempt to change ourselves for relationships, and how we in turn shrink ourselves in the hopes of finding someone to love. It hurts that Doss died before this collection was released, but I am so grateful for the precious gift that he left us.

To buy: Amazon.com and bookshop.org.

Amazon

This was the first romance novel that I had ever read with a heroine, Stella Lane, who has Asperger’s—Hoang also has Asperger’s—which was really refreshing. Hoang developed a smart, funny, and kind character that I felt lucky to root for. Stella develops an algorithm that predicts customer purchases, which is great for her bank account but not necessarily for her love life. Enter Michael Phan, a hunky male escort. If you’re still on the fence, please note that while I was reading, I actually blushed several times due to the steamy descriptions.

To buy: Amazon.com and bookshop.org.

Amazon

If you're a woman who has ever been worried that you want too much, this book is for you. Elizabeth has spent her whole adult life trying to build something for her family, but it all appears to go up in flames when the family files for bankruptcy. Elizabeth reaches out to Sasha, a long-lost childhood friend, who is going through her own crisis, which in turn, brings the two women closer together. Elizabeth is such a relatable character, which only makes me want to cheer for her more.

To buy: Amazon.com and bookshop.org.

Amazon

A Burning by Megha Majumdar is another debut that shocked me to my core. The novel centers on three characters—Jivan, PT Sir, and Lovely—who are attempting to rise up in the ranks in society in contemporary India. Their lives become entangled after Jivan is accused of plotting a terrorist attack, and only PT Sir and Lovely can set Jivan free. This won’t be the last of Majumdar—this extraordinary debut is only the beginning.

To buy: Amazon.com and bookshop.org.

Amazon

I love judging a book by its cover, especially when the book is as good as Pizza Girl. Frazier brings the story of a unnamed pregnant pizza delivery girl who doesn’t know what she wants and is grieving the death of her father, whom she had a somewhat complicated relationship with. After answering a call from a frazzled mother named Jenny who depends on weekly deliveries of pickle-cover pizza for her son’s happiness, our narrator becomes obsessed with Jenny. It’s a unique coming-of-age story, one that you have to read to believe.

To buy: Amazon.com and bookshop.org.

Amazon

Even though time doesn’t have any meaning these days, this book is full of drool-worthy photos and recipes, so it needs to be a staple in your house. As someone who doesn’t have a lot of time on her hands due to her demanding tech industry job, Lopez has figured out how to make baking work for you on your schedule. From recipes that take an hour to recipes that take a couple of days, Lopez will keep you happily fed.

To buy: Amazon.com and bookshop.org.