At this time of social distancing and social isolation we have all found comfort in reading. Taking the time to dive into new and exciting books, delve into the depths of long-dusty TBR piles or even cosying up and re-reading long-loved books that give you warm and fuzzy feels. To that end we asked Australian and New Zealand authors, experts in all-things reading, which books are on their self-isolation reading piles.
Check out the lists below for your TBR pile inspiration, and get in touch @romanceanz or in the comments below with your favourite self-isolation reads!
I’m a traveller at heart—across both geography and time—so I love books that take me away from the everyday and into new worlds. Something I’m appreciating even more given the challenging time we’re all facing at the moment. Here is my list of “get away” books that help me travel from my armchair.
Stay safe and healthy everyone!
The Daughter of Victory Lights by Kerri Turner
I loved Kerri’s first book, The Last Days of the Romanov Dancers, so I am super excited to read Kerri’s new book. It’s dual timeline set in England (1945 and 1963) and delves into the world of risqué performers who pushed limits in their time. There’s a mystery that ties the generations together. Kerri has a performance background and she has a passion for history, so I know this book will be a great read!
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
I’ve enjoyed Ann’s books in the past and this one is sure to be just as wonderful. I love stories of redemption and finally letting go of the past as well as exploring family relationships and how they can affect our lives in profound ways. This book looks like it will tick all the boxes!
Sapphire Skies by Belinda Alexandra
This is a re-read for me as I loved it so much the first time. I do enjoy all of Belinda’s books as I feel like I really know the characters and the settings and eras she writes about. Sapphire Skies is a story about strong women, courage, intrigue and a huge dose of very interesting Russian history.
Ribbons of Scarlet by Kate Quinn, Stephanie Dray, Laura Kamoie, Sophie Perinot, Heather Webb, E. Knight
What’s better than a book written by one of your favourite authors? How about an anthology written by lots of your favourite authors! And about women of the French revolution! I am a Francophile and love history, so this book about strong women defying society’s constraints is sure to be a winner.
Mata Hari’s Last Dance by Michelle Moran
This is the only book of Michelle’s I haven’t read yet and I’m really looking forward to it. Michelle books are beautifully researched and it’s easy to be immersed in her historical worlds and three-dimensional characters. This story is about Mata Hari and her journey from surviving an abusive husband in Java to her stardom in Europe and her arrest for treason and leading thousands of French soldiers to their deaths.
The Healer by Allison Butler.
This beautiful Scotland-set romance about an English woman and a Scottish laird will be out in print in August, so I’m looking forward to re-reading the eBook version.
Persuasion by Jane Austen.
I’m taking advantage of having more time to read by re-reading my classic favourites. I was supposed to be on a research trip to Bath this May so instead I’ll live vicariously through as many Jane Austen books as I can.
Bridgerton Series by Julia Quinn
In keeping with my current regency theme, I’m tracking down the last of Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton books in readiness for the upcoming Netflix series.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
For a change of pace, I also have Where the Crawdads Sing on my TBR pile. It comes highly recommended from many author friends.
Truths I Never Told You by Kelly Rimmer
Likewise, I can’t wait to start the fabulous Kelly Rimmer’s Truths I Never Told You.
New Zealand went into lockdown for at least four weeks at midnight, Wednesday 25 March. Times like this definitely call for escapist books, so I plan to spend much of the time I’m in isolation back in the Victorian and Regency periods.
Five books on my pile of ‘to read’ are:
Rake’s Progress – MC Beaton
I’ve only just discovered MC Beaton’s regency books so I’m looking forward to reading as many as I can over this period. I’m half-way through the Rake’s Progress and a ripping good progress it is proving to be.
How the Dukes Stole Christmas – Tessa Dare, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordon, and Joanna Shupe
This collection of novellas contains four of my favourite historical romance writers in one book – Tessa Dare, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordon, and Joanna Shupe. Can’t wait.
The Matchmaker and the Duke – Ann Lethbridge
I was pleased to see my latest book, Awakening the Duchess, has been released in a box set with this very talented writer, so am looking forward to reading The Matchmaker and the Duke.
Vanity Fair – William Thackeray
This classic book should keep me busy for a while. I’ve read it before and seen several TV adaptations, but Becky Sharp is one of my favourite literary characters, so this is certainly well worth another read.
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
Ditto with the above. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read this classic novel, but I can think of no better way of distracting myself from the current situation than with Mr Darcy.
Chasing Cassandra by Lisa Kleypas
Lisa Kleypas is my go-to author for a comfort read, and even though Chasing Cassandra has only been out a few weeks I’ve already reread it (twice!). You can’t go wrong with Cassandra, a heroine who feels like the world left her behind, insanely rich and socially disastrous Tom, who is instantly smitten with her—and Bazzle the little street urchin. (I might have reread the whole book twice, but there’s one scene with Bazzle I’ve read about 1000 times!)
Edge of Truth by Brynn Kelly
Kiwi author Bryn Kelly writes romantic suspense books with characters who seem so real you feel like you know them. This is one of my all-time favourites—and who doesn’t want a funny, sarcastic Australian soldier to turn up in the middle of an international crisis and save the day?
Longbourn by Jo Baker
There are a million Pride and Prejudice rewrites in the world, but Longbourn is the one I always return to. Written from the perspective of the invisible people—the servants of the Bennet family home—it shows so many different kinds of love, and gives our housemaid heroine the happy ending she deserves.
The Summer Bride by Anne Gracie
Australian Anne Gracie is the author we all need when the world is a mess. Her funny, witty characters always make me smile, but— with a heroine from the slums who accidentally ends up in an aristocratic family, and an Irish hero who knows just how hard life can be—The Summer Bride is one of my favourites.
Someone to Wed by Mary Balogh
Mary Balogh’s characters always overcome a lot to win their happy ever after.
The heroine of this book could give us all a lesson in how to survive isolation. Born with a birthmark so significant her vain family locked her away, she decides the only way she can find the husband she wants is to buy one. Of course, things don’t quite go how she expects.
Redemption of the Untamed Italian by Clare Connelley
I’m currently loving this fabulous escapist read from one of my favourite Aussie authors. Sexy Italian billionaire meets Aristocrat model.
Hotter on Ice by Rebecca Hunter
Hot shenanigans in an Ice Hotel in Sweden between super model and her bodyguard! What’s not to love…?
Beauty and the Professor by Skye Warren
This Modern retelling of beauty and the beast features a scorching forbidden student/professor romance
Writing for Emotional Impact by Karl Iglesias
I always have a craft book on the go and this one is all about injecting those emotions into every part of your writing.
Wicked Beyond Belief The Hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper by Michael Bilton
A bit of an outlier this one. My husband reads true crime so I thought I’d give this grim tale a go as I remember the case from when I was growing up in the seventies and eighties.
Meet Me In Venice by Barbara Hannay.
I find Barbara’s stories so emotionally satisfying, love her characters.
Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton.
I’ve read all of her books and usually end up on the edge of my seat, white knuckled … and in tears.
The Rich Boy by Kylie Scott.
Kylie is another favourite author of mine!
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang.
I’ve heard such good things about this book, and have been meaning to read it for months.
The Poldark Cookery Book by Jean M Graham.
Not sure I will make any of these dishes (though some look really yum) but I love the show.
I tend to have broad reading habits, preferring to read non-fiction while I’m writing, then glomming fiction – especially romance – when I’m taking a break.
At the moment, the books I’m working through or have on my list to get started on as soon as possible are:
One Summer Between Friends by Trish Morey.
I love everything Trish writes and this beautiful story set on Lord Howe Island looks right up my alley!
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van de Kolk M.D.
I started reading this after the bushfires that ravaged Australia in January and it feels particularly relevant now. It’s an insightful work about how trauma shapes and affects us.
Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe
It’s one I’ve wanted to read for a long time and have finally made a start on.
Bad Business by JC Harroway.
This Mills & Boon Dare is on preorder and I’m eagerly awaiting its arrival on my kindle. I always adore Jo’s stories and this one sounds fab.
Just One Wish by Rachael Johns.
Rachael always tells beautiful stories with characters that you really adore and this one is no different.
Reading in self-isolation (or maybe even lockdown) at last means no longer guilty pleasure. Not that it ever was for me, mind you, although I usually only read before bed. The little luxury gets all my attention then.
I’m like one of those memes – ‘I’ll only read one more chapter’ then seven chapters later at two-thirty in the morning …
On my To-Be-Read pile is a mix of things:
Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
It has a sort of mystery to it (I know it says that on the blurb), but deeper, something’s resonating with me. The title itself draws me in. I love the secret, the clandestine in stories anyway, so I’m getting ready to dive into this one.
The Boy From The Woods by Harlan Coben
Can’t wait to read it. Coben is a favourite author of mine; without a doubt I’ll have a few heart hammering hours as his fast-paced thriller carries me off. I love Coben’s style, especially his dialogue and that he doesn’t waste words on heavy narrative. Oh – and I see we’ll be in the wilds again somewhere, a little like Crawdads. I have a thing for the bush? Maybe.
The Bride Stripped Bare by Nicki Gemmell
Very different to the two above. Just for a throwback to another era in books (not that long ago but still), I thought it was time to delve into this one. I really enjoy Gemmell’s articles in the Weekend Australian but have never read this book of hers. I’m going to love that easy going having-a-chat style. Some have said it carries an element of voyeurism … I think the quote opening the first chapter says it all: ‘I have a feeling that inside you somewhere, there’s somebody nobody knows about.’ (Hitchcock and Wilder Shadow of a Doubt) Oh yeah.
Where Fortune Lies by Mary-Anne O’connor
How could I not read this one? Because—Australian Historical. A new release set at a time in our history that fascinates me, between the greedy excitement of the first goldrushes, and the approaching Federation, the 1870s and 1880s gave tangible hope, tough as it was, to those who eventually built a life in this country. I’ve always loved Mary-Anne’s stories, and am in love with her dad’s ethereal paintings, his depictions of the Aussie bush. Winner.
Deadman’s Track by Sarah Barrie
OK, it’s not out yet but I’m waiting for it, it’s pre-ordered. Come on July. We have some excellent homegrown writers here in Aus, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the gutsy writing with a little bit of spice, a little bit of nice, and nasty crooks in Sarah Barrie’s stories. I can’t wait to take a careful walk down Deadman’s Track.
So there you have it—another Darry eclectic TBR pile … which never seems to go away.
Read on everyone, it’s always been one of life’s greatest joys.
Midwife in the Jungle by Fiona McArthur
Medical drama, adventure, danger and a hot jungle doc, what’s not to love?
Marry in Scarlet by Anne Gracie
A compromising embrace sends an independent woman to the altar to marry an insufferable duke – but she’s not going without making a statement of her own.
Home to Turtle Bay by Marion Lennox
New York meets dairy farm surf school. Geriatric cows, turtles and a woman whose world is turned upside down in the best possible way – the perfect stress antidote!
The Paramedic’s Unexpected Hero by Alison Roberts
A bad boy exterior hides an unexpected heart – buy it for the cover and dive in.
Meet Me in Venice by Barbara Hannay
Lose yourself in the magic of Venice and a tale of family, secrets, difficult choices, and the courage to find a way through
Reading these days for me is about total escapism. It should surprise no one that I don’t want lots of reality in my reading. I also don’t want light and fluffy. I want deep emotion, lots of angst, lots of brooding tortured souls, because for me that leads to the most satisfying happy endings. Oh yeah, that’s the other requirement – HEAs are a must!
One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews.
I’ve been binging on the Innkeeper Chronicles, because they’re the perfect paranormal escapism. I love the world Andrews has created and even though these aren’t heavily romantically focused, I very much like the heroes she writes, because I LOVE a strong alpha dude. The werewolf… *heart eyes*
Covert Complication by Nicole Helm
Nicole always nails the tricky balance between fast-paced action and deeply emotional romance in her Intrigues, and I can’t wait to get to this one. Her heroines are interesting and her heroes hot What’s not to like?
The Italian’s Pregnant Cinderella by Caitlin Crews
Presents really is the perfect escapist read, and I love Caitlin’s writing and her furiously alpha heroes. Exotic locations, billionaires, brooding princes captivated and caught by their plucky heroines….love!
Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz
This was recommended to me by a reader in my FB group. It’s a thriller rather than a romance and the sample was enough to hook me. A secret action dude who helps people out while also being very emotionally tortured? Sign me up!
Network Effect by Martha Wells
I never pre-order books (bad author!) but I pre-ordered this one. I also don’t like novellas (too short) and yet I read all the previous books in this series. This one is the first full length book in Martha Well’s Murderbot Diaries. I really love good SF and the Murderbot Diaries are fantastic. It’s about an A.I. who’s basically a killer robot, but who ends being more relatable and funny than most real people. I very much enjoyed the first few books in this series and I’m very sad that this one isn’t out till May, by which point I’ll be done with self-isolating (hopefully)!
The Boundary Fence by Alissa Callen
Nothing is more comforting than a rural romance and right now I think we all need a little comfort.
The Almost Perfect Holiday by Lucy Diamond
Loved Lucy’s early books and have been meaning to read her again for years. Since we can’t have an ACTUAL holiday right now, this seems like a good choice.
The River Home by Hannah Richell
I met Hannah at Byron Writers Festival a couple of years ago and love her books as much as I love her.
The Rich Boy by Kylie Scott
Kylie’s always a must-read for me. Her characters are so real and her romances a little bit edgy.
Scarlett and the Model Man by Cathryn Hein
I totally judge books by covers and this one is gorgeous!