24 Isolation Books and Thrillers to Binge-Read Now
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.
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Not-So-Scary Isolation Books
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
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 was really good. There are only a few other book adaptations I would add to that list. If you haven’t read this book about motherhood yet, you need to add it to your list.
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 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.
This 70s book has that spark, that special something that makes it extra. It is no surprise that we chose this as our favorite of 2018.
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 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. I’m desperate to read Madeline Miller’s first book – The Song of Achilles now
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 was excellent as well.
Quarantine Isolation Books
Want The Best FREE Reading Log Printable? Check out our post along with great tips on how to use them.
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 book, I kept thinking to myself that it should be a movie.
Hornak takes series topics and makes them funny. This 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.
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.
Isolation Books Set in Winter
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
Another Kristin Hannah story, another NYT best seller – and for good reason! I liked this story about the Alaskan wilderness.
This 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 by Ruth Ware
As a 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 one out!
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 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?
Love Thrillers? 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
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.
It’s a wonderfully addicting read that is great in audiobook format as well. This vacation thriller is a perfect choice for books like People We Meet on Vacation.
The Guest List by Lucy Foley
June 2020 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick
Real talk. I’ve just read THE thriller
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!
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 book. A truly enjoyable beach read!
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.
Serial Killer Isolation Books
The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse
February 2021 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick
Oh boy, was this a creepy story! 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? This is such a great blizzard book from mystery books and is a must-read if you love Emily Henry books.
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
I was so hooked by this 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.
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- after all, you find out a lot of things when watching the neighbors all day through binoculars.
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 lake books. 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 book is such a great pick from our ultimate beach reads 2023.
Transportation Isolation Books
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 before the famed Hercules Poirot?
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. There is magic in the pages of this book in all meanings of the word. First, read this book, then, rethink everything.
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 isolation book wasn’t as creepy as some of Ware’s others, but it still kept me on the edge of my seat. This unreliable narrator book is a perfect sailing novel as well. You just might want to wait until you are off the boat!
More Isolation Thrillers
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 but, she can sit at her window and watch everyone in the neighborhood.
When she sees something across the street, she is sure that there has been a crime but, what is real and what is imagined? Amy Adams stars in the Netflix adaptation of this unreliable narrator book.
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 full cast audiobooks and this one was no exception. If you love Lisa Jewell, check out our post: The Best Lisa Jewell Books Ranked: Complete List
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, supernatural thriller is perfect for Halloween. It is also perfect for books with unreliable narrators- is she agoraphobic or is there something else going on?
Fantasy Isolation Books
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 murder mystery but with a twist, and a delightful one at that.
House on 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.
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. This book is a must-read for anyone who needs a feel-good book.