I’m a person of simple tastes – I just need coffee in the morning, a glass of Rosé at sundown, and a nice big pile of books to read and I’m pretty happy. Some chats with friends and family and a bit of light gardening are welcome additions.
I had a moment of panic yesterday morning when I got a notice from the library to say that the books I’d reserved were available to be picked up. Should I make an emergency dash to the library in case they closed their doors? I briefly considered this, but decided to take my chances on picking them up on Monday. I have a massive pile of books next to the bed, so I’m really not going to run out in the next six months. And there are always digital books. The library has advised that they will increase the number of digital books to better serve the needs of the community, which is great news.
We did an emergency dash to the supermarket yesterday to buy some fresh ginger, some curry powder, and some of the aforementioned Rosé. I don’t want to be stuck at home without the essentials.
But back to the topic at hand. What should we be reading in this surreal situation? I think there are three options.
Get into the groove with some dystopian fiction.
If you’re up for reading dystopian books, the number one pick for me would be Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. It’s about a swine flu pandemic that wipes out most of the world’s population and a group of nomadic actors and musicians who survive and band tother to travel the countryside, bringing tiny glimmers of hope and culture to the remaining people. Despite the gloomy storyline, this is actually quite an uplifting book. It’s been adapted for television, so look out for it on your screens. But honestly, I think the writing is beautiful so I would try to read it first.
Another couple of books that come to mind are quite old, but worth seeking out if you haven’t read them. I can recommend Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Fahrenheit 451 was published in 1953 (before I was born) but still resonates today. It’s well worth the effort of hunting it down. It should be in your library.
Alternatively, you could try some escapist thrillers.
I’ve got a penchant for Stella Rimington books. She writes books about spies (the type of stories that get made into TV series like Spooks). They are definitely page-turners and not especially memorable (sorry Stella) but well written and easy to consume. Other favourites are police procedurals. Try Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent, which is also one of my all-time favourite movies.
I recently read Anne Cleve’s new book called The Long Call which I enjoyed very much and my son has offered to lend me Dervla McTiernan’s new book The Good Turn which I’m excited about. If you are planning the read this, I would definitely go back to the beginning of the series and read The Ruin first. They can be read out of order, but I prefer to read them in order of publication.
Lastly, you could read something uplifting!
One of the books that’s waiting for me at the library is The Joy of High Places by Patti Miller. This has been recommended by one of my sisters (both are avid readers) so I’m looking forward to diving into this one. Patti is an excellent writer and teaches memoir writing courses, so this one promises to be a good read.
Also on my TBR (to be read) list is a new book by Julia Baird, Australian journalist and broadcaster, called Phosphorescence. It’s comes out tomorrow, March 23 and is described as…
A beautiful, intimate and inspiring investigation into how we can find and nurture within ourselves that essential quality of internal happiness – the ‘light within’ that Julia Baird calls ‘phosphorescence’ – which will sustain us even through the darkest times.Review from the ‘Readings’ website
It might be a good choice for the current situation.
Lastly, I just want to say that I hope you are all doing ok. I’m deeply aware that not all of you are seeing this crises as an opportunity to read more books. Many of you will be facing an uncertain future in terms of employment and even health outcomes so if that describes your situation, my heart goes out to you. I hope you keep well and keep your cool. I genuinely think that books can bring comfort and maybe just a few hours of distraction when things are getting too much.
If you have books you’d like to recommend, or just want to touch base, do feel free to send me a message via my contact page. I would love to hear from you and will definitely respond.