Here are several highly recommended titles to distract you from what’s happening in the outside world
So, we survived another week of social distancing and the need for distraction from today’s dizzying news cycle also goes up. With the amount of bad news that is going around, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for us to also distance ourselves from TV or, better yet, our phones. Unsurprisingly, more and more people are turning to books to cope with coronavirus-related anxiety and it might be one of the best antidotes for the psychological toll of a socially-distant life. We have come up with five books to read during quarantine. Why only five? Well, we figured we’d start with five, give you some time to go through them then post another list next month.
The Splendid and The Vile by Erik Larson
This non-fiction that reads like fiction tells the story of Churchill and his family during the London blitz. Historian Erik Larson uses intimate diaries, public records and some newly-released documents then transformed them into a beautifully-written book about the resilience of the family and the British people during that challenging time. It is a story of political brinkmanship, but it’s also an intimate domestic drama, set against the backdrop of Churchill’s prime-ministerial country home of Chequers and his wartime retreat in Ditchley, where he and his entourage went to when the moon is brightest and the bombing threat is highest.
Woodcutters by Thomas Bernhard
This one is a classic. It was originally published in Germany in 1984 and the English translation by Ewald Osers was published in 1985. It is a satire of Vienna’s artistic elite but somehow feels so relatable. In the novel, the narrator reluctantly accepts an invitation to an “artist dinner,” where he soon discovers talentless poets, overambitious wives and a star guest who is a celebrated actor. This book will make you laugh.
The Plague by Albert Camus
A twenty-eight year old Albert Camus wrote “The Plague” back in 1941. The French writer wrote about a virus that spreads uncontrollably from animals to humans and ends up destroying half of the population of a modern town. A little bit too real for now, perhaps, but it is frequently described as the greatest piece of European literature from the postwar period. The book takes us through a catastrophic outbreak of a contagious disease in the lightly fictionalized town of Oran on the Algerian coast through the eyes of the novel’s hero, Doctor Rieux. Read this one if you need a bit of existentialism in your life.
The Dry by Jane Harper
Time for some thrillers. This debut novel by Jane Harper is set in a fictional town five hours from Melbourne and follows Federal Agent Aaron Falk whoarrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Falk was accused of murder twenty years ago and Luke was his alibi, but more than one person in town knows he was lying. Now that Falk has returned, long-buried secrets begin to surface. Harper plots this novel with precision and suspense while dropping in flashbacks that offer readers a full understanding of what really happened. This book will keep readers on edge and awake long past bedtime.
Deacon King Kong by James McBride
Let’s throw a mood-lifter to end the list. “Deacon King Kong? is many things: a mystery novel, a crime novel, an urban farce, a portrait of a project community. In September 1969, a fumbling, cranky old church deacon known as Sportcoat shuffles into the courtyard of the Cause Houses project in south Brooklyn, pulls a .38 pistol from his pocket and in front of everybody shoots the project’s drug dealer at point-blank range. McBride’s insight and wit demonstrates that love and faith live in all of us and the best way to grow is to face change without fear.
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