If you’re one of the many who has been told to shelter-in-place during the COVID pandemic, then this is a pretty good time to catch up on your reading. To help those who need a good book recommendation during this time of crisis, here are six:
Five Days at Memorial: This non-fiction account of one hospital during Katrina gives readers a glimpse into what it is like for healthcare workers and leaders in times of crisis. While the situations are vastly different (natural disaster vs. global pandemic), some of the conversations are quite similar. And, at 500+ pages, this one will help you shelter-in-place for a minute. (Link to a brief review from my “best of” round-up in 2015 here.)
Never Let Me Go: If you feel like you’re living through the apocalypse, then maybe a good dose of dystopia is what you need. Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel isn’t a crash course of living among abandoned cars and half-destroyed buildings, but more about the availability and the allocation of valuable resources and how a society might conform to solve the problem. It is perfect for a time when life can feel completely disrupted and very normal at the same time. (More in my review here.)
Let’s Pretend this Never Happened: If this COVID shelter-in-place order has you wanting a complete change of pace, you might like Jenny Lawson’s hilarious memoir. Nothing will make you forget COVID like a 5-foot rooster or a pet raccoon in jams. This recommendation comes with a blog option in case you need to be sure before spending $12.99 on your Kindle, but I will tell you in advance, it could be the best investment you make in your quest to survive. (A bit more from my round-up of best reads of 2014 here.)
Angle of Repose: I read this last year and kept meaning to write a review on it, but never did. Wallace Stegner’s 1971 Pulitzer Prize winning novel is a literary classic, and at nearly 700 pages, it is another that will keep you occupied for awhile. Often characterized as a western because of its setting, it more about the taming of the west – or better yet, how the west tamed those who came to settle it. And if you’re feeling isolated by your shelter-in-place order, this may help you reconsider what hardship really is. The novel alternates time periods between a (then) contemporary historian, wheel-chair bound and estranged from his family, and his grandparents – primarily his grandmother – struggling to bring civilization west.
“Angle of repose” is an engineering term that refers to the steepest angle of descent that material will stay in place without sliding or slumping. It makes me think of a moment of tension – of testing – just before collapse. Contemplating how many are living in this moment right now is what makes Angle of Repose a great read today.
I Know This Much Is True: Again, longer novels are a great choice in this season of reading, and Wally Lamb is one of my favorite authors in general. While the topic may not exactly parallel what we’re living through, this novel is about family and one brother’s opportunity to reflect on his history, its various inconsistencies and all that he (and his brother) have endured. Ultimately, it is about survival and the hope that comes from perseverance. This is for anyone who needs a little encouragement or to be reminded that “this too shall pass.”
A Gentleman in Moscow: Finally, what better novel to read during this COVID season than one about someone else who was forced to “shelter-in-place” at the turn of the 20th century after the Russian Revolution. So maybe your house isn’t quite the posh Metropol Hotel, but you may find comfort in some of what the Count depends on to help him create life within the confines he’s been restricted to. For example, if you have kids, the table game the Count and Sofia play? Or for the adults, how about a label free wine tasting? Either way, you’ll be entertained and feel more intelligent when you finish this novel. (A little more in my review here.)
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