During this stressful, bizarre time we all need to escape and immerse ourselves in something engrossing. As I’ve said before, what better way to do that than with books?
For ideas, I’ve assembled a short list of “covid reads” in several categories:
• Comfort Books:
– Jane Austen: the English novelist penned romantic stories with biting social commentary praised by scholars of historical fiction. Begin with Sense and Sensibility and work your way through the rest. Your intimate experience with a pandemic will help you appreciate why Austen’s original readers swooned when Mr Darcy said, “I trust your family is in good health.”
– Harry Potter: J.K. Rolling’s fantasy books have been labeled thrillers, mysteries, adventures, romances, and British school stories. Our Stephen King called the series “a feat of which only a superior imagination is capable.” Escapes to be sure.
• Little Books With Big Messages:
– The Little Prince is tiny, but it offers vital messages for its readers. Published posthumously in France after that country’s liberation, Antoine de Saint-Exupery novella became one of the best selling, most translated books ever published. The story follows a young prince who visits various planets in space, including Earth, and addresses themes of loneliness, friendship, love, and loss.
– Another children’s book, EB White’s charming Charlotte’s Web, is loved by all ages. White so skillfully handled its themes – innocence, change, and inevitable death – that he put Maine on the literary map. It has been said that we are all Wilbur, needing a Charlotte to save our lives at one point or another.
• Adult Books With Big Messages
– To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee’s famous novel was published in 1960 and sold over 40 million copies worldwide. A civil rights story, the book is about right and wrong, meanness, and kindness and couldn’t be more relevant right now. Consider this quote: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
• Stories about plague. Escape into pestilence tales. Why not?
The Stand – In Stephen King’s novel a computer error at a biological warfare research lab results in escape of an influenza strain that kills over 99 percent of the global population. With government and all institutions gone, battles of good and evil begin.
Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel’s tale focuses on survival of our culture as opposed to humanity. Survivors mourn loss of so many and little things – or memories of them – matter the most.
So, happy Covid reading. Be well and however you manage to do it take some time now to escape from a truly terrible moment.