24 Isolation Books and Thrillers to Binge-Read Now

Isolation books

With winter coming soon, we started thinking about being at home on snowy days. Being stuck in the house can be a welcome break but eventually, it can start to become anything but relaxing. These isolation books are the perfect books to read this winter.

Some of these isolation books are thrillers, but some are funny and others will make you question where you take your next vacation.

*Isolation book Post contains affiliate links. Purchases made through links result in a small commission to us at no cost to you. Some books have been gifted. All opinions are our own.

Not-So-Scary Isolation Books

meredith alone

Meredith, Alone by Claire Alexander

For my Winter Reading Challenge Isolation Book, I decided to read Meredith, Alone.

This story about a woman trying to overcome her fear of leaving her house was one of the most heartfelt, unique stories I’ve ever read.

As Meredith’s story unfolds and she tries to overcome the trauma and abuse that has caused her to isolate herself, I couldn’t help but cheer for her. I loved all the secondary characters too and how they tried to be good friends by meeting her where she was – often quite literary.

This would be an excellent book to discuss with your book club. I highly recommend it for your TBR list.

Room by Emma Donoghue and more isolation books

Room by Emma Donoghue

This is a haunting story about a woman held captive in a shed for years with her five-year-old son. She tries to teach him and entertain him in their tiny room until they have a chance to escape. This is an unforgettable pick from books that will emotionally wreck you.

Following their escape, they find acclimating to normal life to be challenging, especially for the little boy. This story will pull on your heartstrings and leave you in tears.

Even though the saying is “the book is better”, the movie adaptation of this contemporary fiction book written by a Canadian author was really good. There are only a few other book adaptations I would add to that list. If you haven’t read this isolation book about motherhood yet, you need to add it to your list.

Where the Crawdads sing

Where the Crawdads Sing Deluxe Edition by Dehlia Owens

September 2018 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick

I will admit when I saw the description of this coming-of-age book, I was not sold.  A trusted individual, who has never steered me wrong in the past, gave me an advanced copy so, I took the leap.  And wow, am I glad I did.  I read this book and then recommended it to everyone I knew.  It is one of the best mystery novels I have ever read.

This 70s book has that spark, that special something, that makes it extra. The book begins when a body is found in a North Carolina marsh and is identified as Chase Andrews. The story moves between the past and the present to tell the story of Kya Clark, The Marsh Girl, who is a suspect in the murder. Kya’s life on the marsh definitely makes this perfect for our books on isolation list.

We have an entire post dedicated to this book and how to host a book club around it which makes it a perfect book for book clubs! If you love this book, check out our list of 13 books like Where the Crawdads Sing.

Circe

Circe by Madeline Miller

The Odyssey is one of my all-time favorite books and I think I read Du’Laires Book of Greek Myths more than any other book when I was in middle school. Which means I ADORED Circe!

Circe, the nymph who is but a footnote in Du’Laires and gets overshadowed in The Odyssey was a fascinating goddess I can’t believe I knew so little about. Circe’s life on her secluded island has us finding a place for this on our books about isolation list.

The Light Between Oceans and more isolation books

The Light Between Oceans by M.L Stedman

A lighthouse keeper and his wife have gotten used to the lonely, isolated life of maintaining the lighthouse on a faraway island. But they are yearning for a baby to keep them company.

When one washes ashore, they quickly claim the child as their own without reporting it to the authorities. On a rare outing in town 2 years later, they bring their daughter along and realize the impact of what they have done.

This was a heartbreaking but beautiful read. The movie adaptation of this isolation book was excellent as well.

Quarantine Isolation Novels

Category Headers

Want The Best FREE Reading Log Printable? Check out our post along with great tips on how to use them.

Tom Lake

Tom Lake by Ann Patchett

August 2023 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick

In the spring of 2020, Lara’s three daughters return home and beg their mother to tell the story of her romance with a movie star from long ago.

Throughout their Mom’s telling of her summer theatre experience at Tom Lake, the daughters get the long-awaited answers to questions they’ve asked for years. The whole family also re-examines their lives and relationships through the new lens of information. While this is a pandemic story, it’s more of a plot device to get the family together than anything else. So don’t expect to be triggered!

Why I Loved it: Ann Patchett is an amazing storyteller and I love all her books, so it’s no surprise that this story is one of my best books of 2023 picks! I was completely enchanted by this story, especially because Meryl Streep reads the audiobook version.

Find this book in Best Books of 2023 / Novels Set on a Lake / Isolation Books / Family Dramas

seven days of us

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

This is a hilarious look at what happens when a family is quarantined together over the holidays. The entire time I was reading this quarantine isolation book, I kept thinking to myself that it should be a movie.

Hornak takes series topics and makes them funny. This family drama book is about crazy coincidences and epic drama in one completely dysfunctional British family. 

What starts out as a family spending a quarantine quietly in the family country home, turns into something from a soap opera.  Every member of the family has their secrets and lies exposed. When I first read this holiday book, I thought it was the perfect book for book clubs. Now, after (during?) a pandemic, there is so much more for book clubs to discuss.

lockdown on london lane

Lockdown on London Lane by Beth Reekles

This story is so adorable! It’s Love Actually, Quarantine edition. It’s not a scary pandemic read AT ALL. Instead, it’s an interwoven tale of various couples stuck together for a week-long lockdown.

There is a group of bachelorettes, a new couple who have only shown their good sides to each other, an established couple struggling, a man separated from his girlfriend, and my personal favorite – a one-night stand turned week-long visit.

Charming and hysterical, this contemporary fiction book lifted my spirits and had me laughing out loud which is amazing for a quarantine fiction.

Find this book in isolation novels / forced proximity trope

Isolation Books Set in Winter

great alone

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Another Kristin Hannah story, another NYT best seller – and for good reason! I liked this coming-of-age story set. in the Alaskan wilderness.

This isolation book is so haunting.  I could not get it out of my head.  Kristin Hannah is an amazing writer with wonderful characters.  Her stories feel realistic almost to a fault.  They are heartbreaking and heartwarming and utterly unforgettable.  I did not think that I would like a book about Alaska but, I could not put it down.

Ernt Allbright has come home from the Vietnam War traumatized and as his mental state deteriorates, his wife, Cora, and daughter, Leni, must learn to navigate the Alaskan wilderness on their own. If you love family drama books set in the 70s, this one is not to be missed.

one by one

One by One by Ruth Ware

As a creepy thriller, this book is fast-paced and heart-thumping as one person after another winds up dead.  As a mystery, I had a problem with the fact that I knew who the killer was from the very beginning. 

Where does that leave my feelings on the book? Although there were no surprises for me, this survival thriller had me cringing throughout. If you love novels about blizzards, check this isolation novel out!

Cover Your Tracks and More isolation books

Cover Your Tracks by Daco S. Auffenorde

The action starts on page one of this wilderness survival story featuring an ex-army officer and a woman who is 8.5 months pregnant.

After an avalanche takes out their train car, they are the last survivors fighting for survival in the snowy mountains. We get to learn more about their backstory and what might actually be drawing them together. My heart was pumping the entire time! I couldn’t put this isolation book down.

Ski Weekend  and more October 2021 Novel Ideas book reviews

Ski Weekend by Retkok Ross

This YA survival thriller had me on the edge of my seat the entire time I was reading it. I can see why it has won so many awards. Fair warning if you read it before a ski trip- you might want to wait until you get back!

Six teens and a dog go on a ski weekend but how many of them will return? When Sam, her brother, and 4 friends go on a ski weekend, the last thing they expect is to crash in a snowbank with little food and no cell phone reception. What would you do to survive this isolation novel?

Love Thriller books about isolation? We created The Ultimate List of Best Thriller Books carefully divided by sub-genre. These will definitely keep you on your toes.

Isolation Books Set on an Island

one Perfect Couple

One Perfect Couple by Ruth Ware

This is an isolation thriller from one of the best there is. Five couples participating in a game shoe are trapped together on an island when a storm comes in. They are cut off from everyone without phones but that is the least of their worries.

Without power, their food and water supply dwindles quickly, the radio has a very limited battery supply, people are sick and injured, and one of them may be a murderer/ serial killer

Why I Love This Book: This is a page-turning thriller with unexpected twists and turns I did not see coming. This is a perfect beach read- it will keep you on your toes.

Find This Book In: Fictional Books About Serial Killers / Best Beach Reads of 2024 / Books Set at a Hotel / Isolation Books / Best Thrillers 2024

The fury

The Fury by Alex Michaelides

While you know within the first chapter that a murder has been committed, the book’s first half is a slow-paced development of the characters, the relationships, and their motives for being the murderer or the victim.

By 60%, the pacing changes into a non-stop action plot with twists and turns around every corner. It reached a furious crescendo that I did not see coming, but Alex’s books tend to do that to me!

Why we love it: I loved the settings – mostly gorgeous Greece, sometimes rainy London. I loved the characters (and by loved I mean loved to hate them all.) The book being in journal format was stellar storytelling, as was the audiobook narrator’s reading of it. #gifted by Celadon Books

Find this book in Isolation Books / Novels About Weather / Best Thriller Books

Reckless Girl

Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins

This is the Ultimate Beach Read Thriller! It’s all about 2 girls who hire a couple to charter them a boat to a deserted island.

But the island isn’t so deserted after all. As their relaxing trip turns deadly, we learn about the back story that brought each person to their destination.

Why I Like it: It’s a wonderfully addicting novel that is great in audiobook format as well. I found the setting to be so unique and integral to the party.

Find this book in Books like People We Meet on Vacation / Books set at the Beach / Isolation Novels / Ultimate Beach Reads 2023 / Boat Books

The Guest List

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

June 2020 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick

Real talk. I’ve just read THE thriller of summer 2020 and it’s soooooo good.⁣ A murder at a wedding. On an isolated island. In the middle of a power outage.⁣ Yaaaaaaaaas. ⁣This is an unputdownable thriller that is perfect for a list of books like People We Meet on Vacation.

The murder sets the scene and then we get the story in flashbacks without knowing who is murdered until the end. ⁣I’ve become very picky about thrillers recently and this one is hands down my favorite of the year so far.⁣ It also made our Best of 2020 list! If locked room mysteries are your thing, this is perfect for you as well.

Can you guess who is the killer in this pick from our list of the best books about isolation?

The Club

The Club by Ellery Lloyd

March 2022 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick

This contemporary fiction book was a WILD ride and I loved every exhilarating twist and turn! The Home Club is clearly based on members-only celebrity clubs like SoHo House but the newest Home Club is opening on a private island and features an opening weekend to die for.

Literally, because it’s a murder mystery. Except we the readers don’t know who is murdered, how, or why at the beginning…but instead we are treated to various narrators telling the points of view of the weekend as it unfolds.

The layered approach to telling the story of the celebrity shenanigans and the murder of a key figure in the Home Group family had me flipping through the pages of this isolation novel. A truly enjoyable beach read!

Daisy Darker

Daisy Darker: A Novel by Alice Feeney

Daisy’s family is gathering for Nan’s birthday on a tiny, private, tidal island after not seeing each other for years. When the tide comes in, they will be cut off from everybody for 8 hours.

When Nana’s body is found dead with a creepy poem written on the wall beside her, they each begin to suspect each other- after all, one of them is a murderer. Soon, everybody’s secrets start to come out as the members of the family die one at a time.

This pick from isolation books had me guessing until the very end and definitely has the feeling of “And Then There Were None”. In the true Alice Feeney style, I had no idea what was going to happen next so, I stopped trying to guess so I could just enjoy the thrill of the ride. You will love this pick from the Ultimate List of Beach Reads 2023. It is a locked room mystery at its finest. If you are looking for books for fall to snuggle up with, this one will not disappoint.

Serial Killer Books about Isolation

The Sanatorium

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse

February 2021 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick

Oh boy, was this a creepy haunted house book! I wish I had chosen to read it during the wintertime instead of the summer because seeing snow while reading it would have made it that much creepier.

With dead bodies piling up, and a blizzard keeping the guests of the fancy sanatorium-turned-hotel stuck inside, will Elin be able to solve the mystery before she becomes a victim herself?

Why I Love This Book: This is such a great blizzard book for mystery book lovers. It is creepy and everything else you want in a thriller.

Find This Book In: Fiction Serial Killer / Locked Room Mystery / Isolation Book /

and then there were none

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

I was so hooked by this British murder mystery/thriller. A mysterious person is trying to right the wrongs of the past by luring unsuspecting criminals to a deserted island…and then murdering them one by one.

But who is the killer? Why are they killing? And just how long have they been stalking their prey? You have to figure out whodunit in this unreliable narrator book that is one of the best mystery books of all time. This is one of the isolation novels you will not want to miss.

The House Across the Lakew

The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager

Casey Fletcher is an actress who is fleeing bad press after the death of her beloved husband. She retreats to the family’s lake house, despite the fact that this is where he husband drowned.

Casey spends her days drinking and spying on the house across the lake. When she saves former supermodel, Katherine Royce from drowning, the two strike up a friendship. It becomes clear that Katherine and her husband are having some serious issues

Some points in the story moved slowly for me and at one point, the story nearly lost me. But, I am so glad that I kept reading this pick from books about isolation. There were definitely surprises that I did not see coming.

We LOVE Riley Sager. Be sure to check out The Best Riley Sager Books Ranked by Super Fans. This haunted house book is such a great pick from our ultimate beach reads 2023 and is a perfect pick from summer reads.

Transportation Isolation Books

Murder on the Christmas Express

Murder on the Christmas Express by Alexandra Benedict

This book is so many things in one! It’s a mystery isolation novel set on Christmas Eve about a train full of people who get snowbound – and then someone gets murdered! Luckily there is a former detective named Roz who will work the case and try to keep everyone safe.

It’s more than just a murder mystery though. This 2023 Christmas book also addresses domestic violence and rape – so please go in prepared if those are triggers for you. It’s kind of odd to put all those things in one book, but it works! #gifted

Murder on the Orient

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

This is a classic and a must-read on our list of detective books.  It’s one of those books that unless you know the ending, you would never guess it.  So well-devised, this book is a definite favorite and it all takes place on a train in the middle of a snowy tundra.

Will you be able to guess who the murderer is in this locked room mystery before the famed Hercules Poirot? This is one of my favorite adaptations of the Hercule Poirot books and since it’s set on a train going through a snow storm, it’s totally an isolation book too.

life of pi

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

When a boat sinks in the Pacific, the only survivors are a 16-year-old boy named Pi, an orangutan, a hyena, a Bengal tiger, and a zebra. And while this book was written less than 20 years ago, it is already a modern classic.

This is not a sailing novel that once read can be forgotten. I know that some people look at the story as an extended metaphor in which each animal represents a person but personally, I like the book exactly the way it was written, one of the best magical realism books I have read.

There is magic in the pages of this isolation book in all meanings of the word. First, read this book, then, rethink everything. This is a perfect example of a thought-provoking book because no two people view it the same way.

the woman in cabin 10

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Shortly after being burglarized, a travel journalist boards a small luxury cruise liner to cover its inaugural voyage. When she thinks she sees a passenger thrown overboard – but everyone is still accounted for – she has to decide if what she saw was real or only in her head.

This book wasn’t as creepy as some of Ware’s others, but it still kept me on the edge of my seat. This book has an unreliable narrator which also makes a perfect psychological thriller. You just might want to wait until you are off a boat to read this one! If you love thriller novels, this book is a must-read.

Find this book in Sailing Novels / Isolation Books / Psychological Thriller Books / Unreliable Narrator Books

More Thriller Books about Isolation

the woman in the window

The Woman in the Window: A Novel by AJ Finn

If you love old movies, you will adore this book. It is a spin on Hitchcock’s Rear Window and features an agoraphobic narrator who is often unreliable.

Anna Fox lives alone in her house. She is agoraphobic and cannot leave, so she sits at her window and watches everyone in the neighborhood. 

When she sees something across the street, she is sure there has been a crime but, what is real and what is imagined? Amy Adams stars in the Netflix adaptation of this isolation book.

The Family Upstairs

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

I love Lisa Jewell. As I read her books I find each one creepier than the last. This book starts with Libby’s 25th birthday when she inherits a multi-million dollar home. She knows that she was adopted at 10 months old but, she doesn’t know the truth about what happened to her family. She is shocked to find that the story that she was told is not what happened to her family.

25+ years ago Henry, his sister, and his parents are living a very privileged life. When he is 12 years old, things change when David moves into the house with his wife and kids with no plans to leave. He is charismatic and alluring to everyone except Henry. The story moves between past and present until the two stories come together and you finally understand what happened in the house all those years ago. I love listening to this isolation book. If you love Lisa Jewell, check out our post: The Best Lisa Jewell Books Ranked: Complete List

Ghost 19 by Simone St. James

Ghost 19 by Simone St. James

This is the first short story by Simone St. James and I loved it. Ginette Cox has moved to a suburb of NY from NYC. Her doctors have told her that she needs a break. Slowly, she becomes obsessed with watching the people in her neighborhood all the while feeling that she cannot leave her house.

As time goes by, Ginette cannot figure out of she is suffering from severe anxiety or if it is the house that has a hold on her. This short, paranormal book is perfect for Halloween. It is also perfect for isolation books with unreliable narrators- is she agoraphobic or is there something else going on?

Fantasy Isolation Books

7 12 Deaths

The Seven and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

This is one of the best books that I have read in a really long time. It is so smart and so well written- the complexity of the plot line is mind-boggling and kept me absolutely entranced until the very last page.    

Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered every day at 11:00 PM. In order to escape Blackheath, Aiden Bishop must solve her murder. He will wake up every day for 8 days inhabiting a different host body. 

Everything is explained and in hindsight is so clear but, will keep you guessing throughout the entire book. This is a locked room mystery but with a twist, and a delightful one at that. Since it’s set on a remote estate, it definitely qualifies for our list of books about isolation.

the House in the Cerulean Sea

House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J Klune

Linus Baker works as a caseworker in the Department in Charge of Magical Youth.  He is sent on a mission to a secret orphanage isolated on an island where 6 of the world’s most dangerous youth live.  Linus is sent to determine if the children are being cared for properly. Linus, who lives his life by the book, will have to look deeper to try and find the real answers to his questions.

This story was so much more than the sum of its parts. It’s one of the books about friendship that would be a perfect book for book clubs.

The magic and the orphan aspect are all reminiscent of Harry Potter. The story has just a touch of magic but somehow seems completely relevant to our society now. Life on a secluded island makes this a fantasy isolation book!

Which books on isolation do you like? The cozy quarantine novels or scary isolation books?

We LOVE to support independent bookstores. You can shop our entire list of isolation books on bookshop.org

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