Category: Discovery & Impact

Title: Reading in the Pandemic: NPR Critic, English Professor Provides Advice

Date Published: May 21, 2020
Maureen Corrigan sitting in a chair with post-it notes and a map on the wall behind her

Last Night at the Lobster by Steward O’Nan

“This book is about a Red Lobster restaurant in New England that’s closing and the breakup of the community of restaurant workers that have been manning that restaurant. It’s an insider look at the restaurant industry, and especially right now since we’re hearing so much about how that industry has been affected by the pandemic, it’s a perfect novel to read.”

The Women in Black by Madeleine St. John

“This one is about four women working in the dress department of a department store in Sydney, Australia. Again, another novel about work – but sharp, tart, so smart – and about the psychology of getting along with co-workers who perhaps you don’t like. Also very witty.”

Train Dreams by Denis Johnson

“This is a beautiful novel about the waning days of the American West as seen through the eyes of a migrant worker. It’s sharp, it’s elegiac. If you haven’t read Denis Johnson, you should. He was a minimalist. He was able to capture in one sentence what it takes other writers chapters to write.”

The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom

“Broom writes with sharp-eyed clarity about how unstable the foundations of the house she grew up in were both literally and economically because of racism and how her family really had to struggle against forces larger than themselves. It’s really a vivid and powerful memoir about one American family. ”

Colossus of New York by Colson Whitehead

“New York, as everyone knows, has been especially battered by this pandemic that we all find ourselves in. This is a work of nonfiction about New York, and Colson Whitehead – who just wone the Pulitzer Prize for his extraordinary novel, The Nickel Boys, takes us through the subways, the streets of Midtown, over to the Harbor. All great New York books are about walking, and Whitehead walks his readers all over New York.”