What to Read When Self-Isolating

What to Read When Self-Isolating

It’s been about a week of lockdown since many city authorities in the US declared a state of emergency, called for social distancing, and encouraged people to stay home in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic. We are so used to being out and socializing that staying home, as simple as it may sound, came as a challenge. Staying sane and entertained while stuck at home proved to be even more challenging. However, there’s no problem that can’t be solved with a good old book, literally. Let’s face it. There can’t be a better time to grab a book. You’re sitting home with nowhere to go, probably bored out of your mind. A book is a perfect tool to travel, time travel, and take your mind off of all the unsettling news.

To make your life easier, we came up with a short and sweet list of five books that you can enjoy. We picked books that are somewhat appropriate for this kind of extreme situation in our society. Let’s dive right into it.

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë

Against all the prejudice, it’s not just a women’s book. Jane Eyre is so much deeper and has way more to it than just another love story. Before everything else, it’s a story of survival. The main character survives an epidemic that strikes her school, which basically is the reason why this book made it to this list. She experiences the consequences of incompetence, greed, and cruelty of people in charge who handle the situation very poorly and who put students at risk.

The Plague, by Albert Camus

Albert Camus’s The Plague is on our list for obvious reasons. It is a very popular novel that tells the story of Frenchmen involved in an epidemic in North Africa. It describes very vividly what it feels like to be in quarantine and how important it is to remain human, underlying the importance of staying connected to others in such extreme situations (following the 6-foot distance, of course). It also emphasizes the importance of self-care and staying connected with yourself. 

My Year of Rest and Relaxation, by Ottessa Moshfegh

A very controversial book tells a story taking place In New York City. Well, it’s not quite a story, but a description of an experiment. A young woman who lost all connection to people and things around her passes an entire year sleeping. Or at least tries to sleep through the year. A critically acclaimed book is a favorite of many New Yorkers. Many others simply can’t finish the book at all. If the thought of sleeping through this quarantine crossed your mind, give this book a read just to know what to expect. 

The Decameron, by Boccaccio

Giovanni Boccaccio’s collection of lively and humorous stories spiced with some sexuality take place during the Black Plague. The characters, seven women and three noblemen escape the pandemic and hide in a luxurious villa outside Florence. During their isolation of two weeks, they tell each other stories to pass the time. Against the backdrop of the horrifying plague, the stories they tell to keep their minds busy and entertained. The book proves that the suspension of normal realities can paradoxically bring people together in an unexpected setting. 

Severance, by Ling Ma

The author’s first novel, which came out back in 2018 is about a fictional fungal virus. Some describe it as a brilliant book. We strongly recommend checking it out. It’s pretty smart in describing immigration issues in the global capitalism context of the modern world. However, the most fascinating aspect of it is the total decline of human communication and the absence of meaningful relationships as a result. It is very much worth your while. 

We hope that these books take away some of your anxiety and boredom. A good book has a unique capability of filling our soul with grace and satisfaction, even when it’s dark and dystopian. Do not hesitate to share your ideas of what to read during this time with us. Stay safe out there! 

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