One Line Book Reviews (Books for the Pandemic)

Looking for something good to read either to escape or provide perspective during the pandemic? Peruse these one line book reviews  and you will find a great read in no time:

Sometimes you just need some solitude!




Focusing on the extreme political realities that can emerge during times of crisis and uncertainty, Octavia Butler’s “The Parable of the Talents” shows what can happen to human society in the aftermath of climate destruction and scare resources (which just reading about such a society makes you want to protect the planet!).


This book left me feeling a little sad but the story does offer great hope in the end and provides an interesting perspective on choosing to live the life you’ve got!



Set in a world of recent mass extinctions, this book follows Franny as she seeks to build her life in this new reality where she must also grapple with her past, her own actions, and the past of her fellow humans in order to find new hope and new life.



You’ll love this murder mystery as it whips you through all the possible people and motives as strong as the wind gale on the uninhabited island that serves as the setting.



This masterful mystery gives you a genuine feel for rural Ireland through both the writing as well as the  American retired cop who, because of his outsider status, helps reveal the nuances of the locals with one local in particular (which was definitely the best part).



I loved this book! Elkhead Woman is such an amazing character and Lewis and everybody…they all draw you through this story with complete fascination and humanity.



This quick and very entertaining read provides great perspective (like the 50-billion-year perspective) along with witty scientific humor that felt refreshing and reassuring right now.



If you’re looking for a solid introduction to and masterful critique of how social hierarchies operate and negatively influence life in America and elsewhere, this book will not let you down (and neither does Wilkerson’s “The Warmth of Other Suns)!



This book is a good as everyone says: the plot moves you along so effortlessly it’s as if this story has always meant to be, the twin sisters actions are complicated yet understandable, and Jude redeems them all as one of the best characters who manages life and all its annoying aspects with ease.



A virus-themed epic that’s like three books in one (rivaling Stephen King’s “The Stand) with elements of historical fiction, fantasy, horror, and sci-fi—makes for a very engaging book that will happily take over your reading life during the pandemic.



Family secrets, complicated ethics, and the power of identity become central in this wonderful memoir, which I couldn’t put down.



Imaginative, best-selling sci-fi novel about a modern-day descendent being pulled back in time by her slave-owning ancestor for the purpose, she slowly discovers, of ensuring that her family-line continues, a mission she rightfully struggles with as she witnesses (and experiences) the violent world her enslaved ancestors lived through.



An expertly written piece of narrative nonfiction about the kidnapping and disappearing of a mother of ten during the early years of the civil rights and independence struggle in Northern Ireland.



How much are author’s papers valued and who values them the most–this book explores this question and also delves into the changing roles of archivists and librarians as culture gets created digitally.



Learn about a newly discovered, naturally occurring plastic rock in Hawaii, ancient ice built from desert sands, and the great catacombs of Paris in this engaging book.



I finally read “Roots” by Alex Haley and really loved it. I haven’t been certain what to say about it beyond that given the claims surrounding plagiarism and research misconduct/falsification but I guess I would say that the characters are compelling and I wish only that the book’s true authorship could be rectified and that the work would have been billed as historical fiction rather than genealogical research. The book’s impact on popular American culture can’t be denied, however, and, in my opinion, this is a better read than “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

The Stand book coverThere might not be face mask politics in this masterpiece, but people have to take a stand for something bigger than themselves so I can see why the book has become one of the most downloaded audio books–complete with great characters, references to hiding information, navigating a brave new world (in the intermountain west, no less), and finding trustworthy leaders.


Delve into the history of racism and its pernicious impacts while also exploring ways to act that uplift yourself and others.

eBook available from Marriott Library


Part nature writing, coming-of-age story, and murder mystery, this bestseller is a satisfying read that leaves you wanting to explore unknown lands and make friends with the gulls.

eBook and audio book available from SLC Library


This unconventional novel deals with grief, essentially, which we all may be experiencing at this time and a good way to deal with grief is to work through it with others, but from a distance — all possible with this title.

I highly recommend looking for the audio version.
(Audio and eBook versions available from SLC Public Library, SL County Library and Utah’s Online Library)


While deeply sobering, this book has the potential of providing comfort during this pandemic because of the historical perspective it offers, its excellent storytelling, and in-depth research.

Watch this interview with the author John M. Barry from the Library of Congress


The Vatican sends a nun to investigate a murder at a school in her home country of Iceland where she also has to grapple with her own past and come to terms with the knowledge of others’ misdeeds.

ebook available from SL county library


A compelling family saga set in the thick of the Korean diaspora, this story shows the triumph of love and the sacrifices made to survive in a world of war, poverty, and prejudice.

ebook from SL county library


An award-winning science-fiction fantasy series about an ancient kingdom complete with human spies that fly like birds, epic battles, secret lovers, and deep friendship.

ebook from SL county library


Tells the epic history of the Great Migration from the perspective of three individuals who experienced it firsthand, the reasons they left the American south and what their lives were like in other parts of the United States.

ebook from SL county


Get swept away in this epic tale of a Hebrew manuscript, the people and circumstances that led to its creation and the protagonist who seeks to understand and preserve the book.

ebook from SL county

(Book recommendations pre-pandemic, but still wonderful books!)


A wonderful story about a 7th grader who attends a new school where there are not many students who look like him but he makes great friends and figures out how to make the best of it despite many uphill battles.

This book explores how ideas travelled in the form of scrolls, parchment, personal collections, and tight-knit but unofficial scholarly communities.

Inspired by Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, this book takes you on the journey of human history, its epochs, and ends with a very interesting take on the future of humanity.

A young, courageous, dedicated librarian offers her fellow trapped detainees a little bit of hope embodied in a small collection of eight books. 

 Solid life advice with a serious amount of humor!!

A tragic story about a young African American man whose life gets upended when he accepts a ride from a stranger on his way to fulfill his college dreams.

Medical myth-making conducted at the risk of patients and their health–this book shows how easy it was for a ruthless company founder to falsify, lie, and cover-up in the high-stakes world of tech start-up and how difficult it was to counter such dishonesty.

This book gives interesting insight into deceit, snap judgements, and trustworthiness — but read it in small doses otherwise it is mind-numbing (even obnoxious at times).

Book Cover of Dutch HouseI am always looking for good books that show you how to be in a family, which is what this book does well with the engaging story of siblings Maeve & Danny, their complex upbringing, and the lingering effects into adulthood.

Book coverA great historic and scientific exploration about how humans have found their way over time and how our brains developed because of it.

Book Cover

Discover what happens when librarians, books, and information enter a community.

The struggles are real in this book, but the writing keeps you rooting for the protagonist and her tenacious will to survive!

Water Dancer Book CoverAn inventive social and historical novel that follows the main character’s complicated journey of self-discovery with a fantastical twist.

Book cover of Ted Chiang's ExhalationThis collection of brainy short stories—authored by a technical manual writer—provide meditative entertainment (yes, I believe this type of entertainment is possible!) and endless creativity.

Image shows book cover of Antisocial by Andrew MarantzExplore in-depth ethnographic research about social media antiheroes, their mindset, and the rise in addiction to experiencing extreme emotions.

Book cover of Becoming

Tells the story of finding a way to live an ambitious, fulfilling, and balanced life even when faced with surprising uncertainties. 

Shows how fake news works and uncovers the length predators and their allies will go to hide their illegal behavior and silence victims.

Land of Wolves Book CoverFollow the great Wyoming sheriff on a murder investigation full of mysterious circumstances, mistaken identities, a wolf, and a dog named Dog.

Book cover of Edward Snowden's Permanent RecordFind out what it takes to expose the inner workings of government intelligence agencies in this clear, tight memoir which also makes a convincing argument about civil liberties on the Web.

Book cover of EducatedExplore the mysteries of physical violence in families and the role of resiliency, independence, and self-determination in this masterfully written memoir.

Cover of The Ninth House book A gripping murder mystery with a fantastical element that takes place in a university setting complete with secret societies, libraries, and beings beyond the veil.

Book cover of The ParadeSpare, engaging story about two foreign soldier-contractors in a foreign land who react to their duties–and the tragedy that occurs–in very different ways.

Book cover of No Time to SpareLeGuin doesn’t disappoint in these poignant essays about life and aging (essays are great reading for those short on time or attention span).

This well-researched history tells another story of Christopher Columbus and the quest of his son to seek order in the world through building a library.