Now more than ever, home is where many of us are seeking refuge and solace in light of the novel coronavirus. This is a tough time, but we’re here for you—whether it’s a new pantry recipe or a useful tip for your kitchen, here are some ideas to make things run a little more smoothly for you and your loved ones.
If you’re like me, you’re finding that this strange time wavers between being mildly unsettling and completely overwhelming, hour to hour, day to day. It can be all-consuming, even if you’re one of the lucky ones that can continue to work from home.
While we’re unsure of what the coming weeks hold, we do know for certain that we need a distraction or two. What better way to remove yourself from reality, than to become absorbed in a book?
“A couple of friends and I are starting a remote book club,” says senior copywriter, Maggie, “and yes, there will be cheese and crackers, except I'll have them all to myself. Even if your 'book club' is just a shared doc where you can deposit ideas, or an email thread, or a phone visit, it's still a book club.”
We’re taking a hint from Maggie and her friends, and sharing with you our current reading list from “Book52,” our staff book club, so you can suck them down in the long evenings ahead. A bit of good news: A lot of libraries across the country are now allowing you to borrow books online, so just head to your local branch website to check out the titles on offer.
Now: Call a friend to discuss, share a passage with your roommate, or drop a comment below to get the conversation going.
1. Exhalation, Ted Chiang
Ted Chiang’s Story of Your Life inspired the film Arrival, one of my favorites from the past few years for its success in putting surreal, never-quite-explained events up against heartbreaking, real human emotion. He tends to draw on historical (often religious) texts, and classic science fiction elements like time travel, aliens, and robots, and twists them up so poetically. Exhalation is meant to be bittersweet but focuses on the hope that technology can lend us, so I’m excited to dive into it. —Nisse, senior customer service specialist
2. The Alice Network, Kate Quinn
Right now, I’m seeking out books (and TV shows and movies) that really transport me, as a break from all the news. This book takes place across two different timelines, and features fierce women, an international spy network, and plenty of unexpected twists and turns. I’ve gotten completely sucked in, which is exactly what I need right now. —Ishita, video programming director
3. Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri
The last time I read this collection of stories was during a fiction-writing class in college, and didn’t fully appreciate it (the usual skimming, cramming, and trying to get through the semester). I recently went back and read the first short story and was blown away by the vivid detail and emotional depth. Hoping to get into some great discussions with Book52! —Caroline Mullen, assistant editor
4. The Falcon Thief, Joshua Hammer
My mom actually recommended I read this book. It ties together two hobbies/interests of ours—nature and animals (more specifically, birdwatching), and true crime. It’s definitely an unusual mix, and the fact that it’s nonfiction makes it all the more interesting. —Kelly, senior growth marketing manager
5. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling
I’m reading Harry Potter for the comfort it brings. I started re-reading the series (first time since I was a kid!) over the summer, when I was going through a stressful time, and it was just what I needed—something easy and nostalgic. I jumped back in on the sixth book and it’s taken me right back. —Celeste, copywriter
6. Tell the Wolves I’m Home, Carol Rifka Brunt
I’m re-reading this right now, because it’s such a beautiful book about a girl who loses her uncle and has to learn how to cope with loss—and how isolating that can be. It makes me cry, but in a good way! I love reading stories that make me happy-cry when I'm stressed out. —Elise, assistant buyer
7. House Of Leaves, Mark Z Danielewski
This is a must-read book for anyone that loves mystery, horror, and journeys into the unfamiliar. A prolific photographer and his family encounter an impossible hallway in the center of their living room, but the story itself isn't the only thing that makes this book special. It's an example of ergodic literature (books that make you read them outside of conventual reading style) where the author uses textual arrangement, multiple narrators, real and fake sources, and copious footnotes to create a labyrinth inside of a novel. —Kaleigh, customer care specialist
8. L’appart, David Lebovitz
I love how Lebovitz combines humor and sentiment to tell his stories of life as an expat in Paris, with the addition of delicious recipes along the way as an added bonus. His stories make me laugh and allow me to escape to an alternate world where I have a pied-à-terre in the 16th arrondissement, but without any of his problems. —Angela, drop ship supply chain manager
9. Fire in the Hole, Elmore Leonard
I loved this book (which served as the basis for the FX show Justified) wherein Deputy U.S. Marshall slash cowboy noir icon, Raylan Givens, faces off against Boyd Crowder, a white power preacher with a rocket launcher stash. Leonard's plots and characters can be absurd stereotypes but he's somehow able to ground them with a taut and smoky prose that adds a lot of gravity and dignity. —Cody, data scientist
10. Normal People, Sally Rooney
I don't think I know anyone who read this last year and didn't like it. It was definitely one of the "it" books of 2019, which is somewhat surprising considering it's not exactly a page-turner. Yet, I couldn't put it down. This is one of my favorite kinds of books—romantic but in a quiet, sad, complicated way. This is only the author's second book, and I snapped it up as soon it came out because I loved her first, Conversations with Friends, so much. —Alex, senior SEO strategist
On our new weekly podcast, two friends separated by the Atlantic take questions and compare notes on everything from charcuterie trends to scone etiquette.Listen Now