While subjected to life in isolation, it’s understandable that many of us are feeling lonely and withdrawn without our typical stimulating interactions. There’s a power in human connection that we just can’t recreate no matter how many Facetime dates, Zoom meetings, or virtual birthday parties we pack into our schedule. But from this isolation and lack of human connection, we are growing into a stronger society – we just need to wait it out. If you’re looking for some spark of hope during these lonely times, here are seven books with characters who rise out of isolation and grow into a better human because of it.
After separating from her cheating husband, Britt-Marie is forced to walk away from the comfort of everything she’s ever known. Being one to constantly obsess over organization and cleanliness, pushing herself out of her comfort zone – and her own apartment, for that matter – is a feat in itself. As Britt-Marie attempts to recreate a new life for herself in the distant, dilapidated town of Borg, she finally lets her guard down and finds her true self. This charming novel celebrates the importance of community and connection, even for the most introverted individuals.
The New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove and My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry “returns with this heartwarming story about a woman rediscovering herself after a personal crisis…fans of Backman will find another winner in these pages” (Publishers Weekly).
Britt-Marie can’t stand mess. A disorganized cutlery drawer ranks high on her list of unforgivable sins. She is not one to judge others—no matter how ill-mannered, unkempt, or morally suspect they might be. It’s just that sometimes people interpret her helpful suggestions as criticisms, which is certainly not her intention.
But hidden inside the socially awkward, fussy busybody is a woman who has more imagination, bigger dreams, and a warmer heart that anyone around her realizes.
When Britt-Marie walks out on her cheating husband and has to fend for herself in the miserable backwater town of Borg—of which the kindest thing one can say is that it has a road going through it—she finds work as the caretaker of a soon-to-be demolished recreation center. The fastidious Britt-Marie soon finds herself being drawn into the daily doings of her fellow citizens, an odd assortment of miscreants, drunkards, layabouts. Most alarming of all, she’s given the impossible task of leading the supremely untalented children’s soccer team to victory. In this small town of misfits, can Britt-Marie find a place where she truly belongs?
Funny and moving, sweet and inspiring, Britt-Marie Was Here celebrates the importance of community and connection in a world that can feel isolating.
This beautiful novel follows Kya, a young woman living alone in wild marshlands. After her entire family abandons her, Kya learns to fend for herself as she explores the nature surrounding her and hesitantly attempts to form relationships with other humans. But when a murder is uncovered, Kya is first to blame amongst the town. This deeply moving story about isolation and loneliness will have you feeling deeply for Kya’s complex emotions.
John Singer is a lonely, deaf-mute, but a series of characters are drawn to his kind, sympathetic nature. Set in the deep south, this story follows each of the characters as they confide in John. In turn, they are deeply changed by their sensitive, silent confidant. This classic story of loneliness and the need for human connection is widely referred to as one of the great novels of twentieth-century American fiction.
With a profound sense of moral isolation and compassionate glimpses into its characters’ inner lives, THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER centers on John Singer, a deaf-mute who becomes the confidant for various types of misfits in a Georgia mill town during the 1930s.
Eleanor Oliphant has isolated herself to the point of avoiding human interaction as much as possible. Her nights are spent alone eating junk food, drinking, and having long chats on the phone with her mother. Life is bleak, but when she meets Raymond, the awkward IT guy from her office, and together they save Sammy, an elderly man who is also living a lonely existence, her life changes forever. The three quickly connect and become friends, forcing Eleanor to reevaluate what she wants from life.
MY YEAR OF REST AND RELAXATION discusses one woman’s efforts to embark on an extended hibernation period. Despite being thin, pretty, and a recent Columbia graduate with a Wall Street boyfriend, there is a dark hole inside her. Throughout her year spend under a combination of drugs meant to cure her, readers are shown that sometimes isolation is our only remedy.
Grace’s life revolves entirely around David, her partner for eight years, until suddenly one act turns Grace’s entire life upside-down. With the help of an old man and a young teenager, Grace starts to transform her life and understand that she is not as alone as she thinks she is. Set in the backdrop of Paris, this charming novel proves that happiness can be found in unlikely places, even if we’re feeling alone and isolated from love.
The first of the Dollanganger series, this novel centers on Cathy, Chris, Cory, and Carrie—siblings who are locked in their grandmother’s attic by their superstitious mother. What happens in the attic reverberates over decades and generations and is told over the course of many books. This thrilling suspense novel follows the children as they grow closer in isolation and attempt to protect each other from their cruel grandmother.