The best novels about community and connection

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been deeply interested in how people connect to those around them—it is something I write about constantly. My first novel, So Much Love, was about how a community reacts to terrible loss and uncertainty, and my recent book of nonfiction, These Days Are Numbered, is about how my own community—and I—reacted to the Covid-19 pandemic. I am always looking at how humans human, separately and especially together. That is one of the joys of narrative fiction for me—the way we can use it to examine our behaviour and interactions, and how we form relationships and communities. I hope these books enthrall you as much as they did me.


I wrote...

These Days Are Numbered: Diary of a High-Rise Lockdown

By Rebecca Rosenblum,

Book cover of These Days Are Numbered: Diary of a High-Rise Lockdown

What is my book about?

The diary of a woman longing for community in a crowded downtown in pandemic times, when casual intimacies are forbidden.

Novelist Rebecca Rosenblum lives in St. James Town, Toronto—the most densely populated square kilometre in all of Canada. When Covid-19 and lockdowns arrive, she’s cut off from colleagues, friends, and family, and not allowed to go near neighbours. Rebecca keeps a weird and worried diary online—a love letter both to the outside world that she misses, and the little world inside St. James Town that she can see from home. As Rebecca watches from inside her box in the sky, her diary entries mix an account of a tough time in a tough place with joyful goofiness and moments of unexpected compassion.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Next Year, for Sure

Rebecca Rosenblum Why did I love this book?

Next Year, For Sure is the story of a long-time couple, Kathryn and Chris, and how they navigate a new challenge when Chris develops an attraction to a woman named Emily.

Much discussed and celebrated when it was published in 2017 as a “polyamory book,” Peterson explores that topic with great nuance, humour, and love, but there’s a lot more going on here.

Every character in the novel is searching for connection and a way not to be lonely—far beyond one romantic partner or more than one, they are looking for meaningful relationships of many sorts with other human beings and I found that their journeys went to some unexpected and fascinating places.

By Zoey Leigh Peterson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Next Year, for Sure as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this moving and enormously entertaining debut novel, longtime romantic partners Kathryn and Chris experiment with an open relationship and reconsider everything they thought they knew about love.

After nine years together, Kathryn and Chris have the sort of relationship most would envy. They speak in the shorthand they have invented, complete one another’s sentences, and help each other through every daily and existential dilemma. But, as content as they are together, an enduring loneliness continues to haunt the dark corners of their relationship. When Chris tells Kathryn about his feelings for Emily, a vivacious young woman he sees often…


Book cover of Don't Care High

Rebecca Rosenblum Why did I love this book?

This comic young adult novel—about a Canadian transplant who moves to a big weird New York City school and finds himself just one friend, and then with that friend, is moved to challenge his fellow students to connect and care about their school, their classmates, and even themselves—is undeniably silly.

But it’s also a great illustration about the power of friendship and connection among a big group of formerly alienated individuals. And it’s a tonne of fun. I have a hard time reading aloud from this book because I laugh so hard I cannot breathe. 

By Gordon Korman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Don't Care High as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Paul arrives at Don Carey High, where students, teachers, and clocks all refuse to work, and, with his new friend Shel, finds the laziest most eccentric student in the school and enters him in a race for school president


Book cover of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

Rebecca Rosenblum Why did I love this book?

This novel is a sometimes funny and sometimes grim depiction of what it is like to be extremely lonely, and what it takes to move from that loneliness into friendship.

It starts out as something pretty simple and goofy—a socially challenged young woman develops a crush on a singer in a local band and tries to pursue him, but that’s just a jumping-off point for Honeyman to show Eleanor Oliphant in all her prickly, strange, smart, hurting glory.

This book is a quick-witted slow burn and it takes a while for Eleanor to finally let her defenses down and allow people—both within the book and the readers—to see what she’s struggling with—but is it ever worth it to go on the journey with this fascinating character.

By Gail Honeyman,

Why should I read it?

25 authors picked Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick

"Beautifully written and incredibly funny, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is about the importance of friendship and human connection. I fell in love with Eleanor, an eccentric and regimented loner whose life beautifully unfolds after a chance encounter with a stranger; I think you will fall in love, too!" -Reese Witherspoon

No one's ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine.

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she's thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of…


Book cover of Silas Marner

Rebecca Rosenblum Why did I love this book?

Yes, it’s a Victorian novel but it’s also the slenderest and sweetest one, by my lights.

Cast out from his narrow religious community by the acts of a dishonest friend, Silas Marner flees to a new village and resolves to live a life apart, money his only security. Then along comes a tiny child in need and Silas cannot help but help—even though this new challenge comes on the heels of a devastating robbery.

The man’s generosity has the effect of opening him up to the generosity of others until, little by little, he becomes a part of the community he has lived apart from for so long. There is never a bad time to read this lovely, hopeful little novella about the worst and best of human nature. 

By George Eliot,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Silas Marner as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Gold! - his own gold - brought back to him as mysteriously as it had been taken away!

Falsely accused of theft, Silas Marner is cut off from his community but finds refuge in the village of Raveloe, where he is eyed with distant suspicion. Like a spider from a fairy-tale, Silas fills fifteen monotonous years with weaving and accumulating gold. The son of the wealthy local Squire, Godfrey Cass also seeks an escape from his past. One snowy winter, two events change the course of their lives: Silas's gold is stolen and, a child crawls across his threshold.

Combining…


Book cover of The Marrow Thieves

Rebecca Rosenblum Why did I love this book?

There are so many things to love about this extremely beloved YA adventure novel about a futuristic world where a pandemic has ravaged most people’s ability to dream…except for Indigenous people, who are hunted for their bone marrow, which is believed to contain their dreaming ability.

It’s a haunting, exciting, eerie, and important book, but of the many things it underlines is the importance of found family, of learning to trust and find solace and protection and strength from the people we choose to be with. A beautiful lesson in a book full of good ones. 

By Cherie Dimaline,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Marrow Thieves as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Humanity has nearly destroyed its world through global warming, but now an even greater evil lurks. The indigenous people of North America are being hunted and harvested for their bone marrow, which carries the key to recovering something the rest of the population has lost: the ability to dream. In this dark world, Frenchie and his companions struggle to survive as they make their way up north to the old lands. For now, survival means staying hidden-but what they don't know is that one of them holds the secret to defeating the marrow thieves.

"Miigwans is a true hero; in…


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Rip Current

By Sharon Ward,

Book cover of Rip Current

Sharon Ward Author Of In Deep

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Even as a kid, I was intrigued by the underwater world, so as an adult, I learned to scuba dive. I took to it like a fish to water, and my husband and I spent the next several years traveling to tropical islands to experience the local dive conditions whenever possible. I loved learning how every island had a different culture and a different undersea environment. Since I love tropical islands, scuba diving, mysteries, and adventure stories, these books really hit my sweet spot.

Sharon's book list on mysteries set on a tropical island

What is my book about?

Unsettled weather has caused life-threatening rip currents to sprout up seemingly at random in the usually tranquil sea around Grand Cayman. Despite posted warnings to stay out of the surf, several women lose their life when caught in the turbulent waters. Fin attempts some dangerous rescues, and nearly loses her own life in the process.

Meanwhile, Fin and the team at RIO are struggling to find more sources of funding for the Institute’s important research, and danger arises from an unexpected source while Fin and hot movie star Rafe Cummings are filming an upcoming documentary. When a young internet influencer goes missing and is feared drowned, Fin realizes that someone lured all the dead women into the dangerous rip currents. But who, and why?

Rip Current

By Sharon Ward,

What is this book about?

Unsettled weather has caused life-threatening rip currents to sprout up seemingly at random in the usually tranquil sea around Grand Cayman. Despite posted warnings to stay out of the surf, several women lose their life when caught in the turbulent waters. Fin attempts some dangerous rescues, and nearly loses her own life in the process.
Meanwhile, Fin and the team at RIO are struggling to find more sources of funding for the Institute’s important research, and danger arises from an unexpected source while Fin and hot movie star Rafe Cummings are filming an upcoming documentary.
Soon after a young internet…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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