Taking Fictional Characters Down with Me: 9 Closed-Space Books for Quarantine Reading

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Cassie Gutman

Staff Writer

Cassie Gutman is happiest when surrounded by books and dogs. Originally from a small, funny-named town near Louisville, Kentucky, she now edits words for a living near Chicago and would like to be paid in ice cream. You can find her on Instagram @happybooklovers or on Twitter @cassiepgutman.

Cassie Gutman

Staff Writer

Cassie Gutman is happiest when surrounded by books and dogs. Originally from a small, funny-named town near Louisville, Kentucky, she now edits words for a living near Chicago and would like to be paid in ice cream. You can find her on Instagram @happybooklovers or on Twitter @cassiepgutman.

I’m a super mood reader, literally changing genres I read with the seasons. It’s pretty predictable: spooky and witchy books in October (but also year-round because that’s who I am), snowy books in winter, and beach reads for, well, the beach. 

If you’re like me, you want to read about people who are in the exact same situation. Maybe you’ll find some solace reading about people dealing with zombie outbreaks or deathly cold temperatures while we drink tea and snuggle with pets and wash our hands? (Seriously. Wash your hands.)

So I’ll definitely be curled up for the next two (?) weeks doing some quarantine reading about fictional characters who are also forced, in one way or another, to stay right where they are.

Books About Confined Spaces, Quarantines, and Being Inside

Seven Days of Us book coverSeven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

It’s Christmas, and the Birch family is much like lots of families—distant, avoidant, and usually hard to reach. But this year, they’ll all be together for the first time in years for the holiday. Olivia, the eldest daughter, is a doctor, and having just returned from treating an epidemic abroad, she’s told, along with her family, to stay in quarantine for a week. Locked inside with the family isn’t an easy task, and the Birches begin to split apart, unraveling new and long-kept family secrets. 

Moon of the Crusted Snow book coverMoon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice

On the cusp of winter, a break from power and necessities sends a small Anishinaabe community into a panic. The food supply begins dwindling, some people try to maintain order, and some try to escape. When newcomers arrive and the struggle for power and leadership grows more tense, the community will have to rally together if it wants to remain whole.

Whiskey & Ribbons book coverWhiskey & Ribbons by Leesa Cross-Smith

Evi was nine months pregnant when her husband Eamon was killed in the line of duty. Now, she and her 6-month-old son have welcomed Eamon’s adopted brother Dalton in to help care for the child. When a freak blizzard snows Evi and Dalton in, the two grapple with their own struggles and pasts, while the reader sees their lives before the snowstorm, watching them journey to become the people they are today.

Room book coverRoom by Emma Donoghue

Room is all Jack has ever known. He doesn’t know that his mother, Mia, was kidnapped and brought to Room seven years earlier. Doesn’t know there’s a world outside of Room. Mia tries her best to give her son a life, but she will also stop at nothing to get out of the confines that define his existence. 

The Butterfly Garden book coverThe Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison

The Gardener loves his garden, and he meticulously maintains it, growing flowers, trees, and his precious “butterflies”—women he has kidnapped and held there. When the garden is discovered, FBI agents are brought in to discover more about the girls, the Gardener, and the mysteries that lie inside the mansion. 

White Is for Witching by Helen OyeyemiWhite Is for Witching book cover

In a mansion on the cliffs near Dover, a family is grieving. The Silvers grieve for a mother, a wife, a daughter, who is gone, and the family mourns day after day. But they’re not the only ones. The house grieves, too, creaking and groaning and intentionally confusing visitors come to comfort the family. As the house takes hold of one Silver, the family must fight to see what is happening before it’s too late. 

The Sittaford Mystery book coverThe Sittaford Mystery by Agatha Christie

Sure, And Then There Were None and Murder on the Orient Express work, too. In fact, most of Christie’s books fit. But The Sittaford Mystery, a lesser-known and wildly entertaining book, is the perfect pick for a closed-room mystery. Amateur occultists gather in a parlor while snowed in to pass the time, but when a message foretells murder, they begin to worry. It isn’t long before a corpse is discovered, and they wonder if they called for this, or if one among them is a murderer themselves. 

This Is Not a Test book coverThis Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

Six students hide out in a high school, trying their best to keep their small area safe. Safe from the outside, safe from the dead trying to get in. Sloane has had a hard time seeing the point of anything, lately, so she isn’t worried about being turned. But her companions, five students who are desperately fighting to live, might change her mind. 

Why We Came to the CityWhy We Came to the City by Kristopher Jansma

A heavy snowstorm barrels into Manhattan, the economy is collapsing, and no one has control over anything. But a group of friends at a swanky holiday party don’t care about any of this. They revel in their past, toast to their futures, and seemingly don’t care about the world around them. But soon, they will, and they will be forced to reevaluate their lives and understand exactly what they are supposed to be doing on this earth.

In the mood for some feel-good quarantine reading? Try these 20 must-read feel-good fantasy books.