With the current need for social distancing and isolation, there has been a lot of empty time inside. During my time in quarantine, I picked up a lot of new books: classic literature, contemporary novels, historical accounts, self-care books, and more. I have compiled five of my favorite reads during quarantine, many of which I have read multiple times as an opportunity to escape the mundane time indoors and experience a new reality through literature.
1. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delila Owens
Where the Crawdads Sing is a fiction book by Delila Owens that follows the story of a girl named Kya who grew up in a swamp learning how to provide for herself, eventually becoming a complex crime fiction novel. Topping the New York Bestsellers list for over 20 weeks in 2019, this coming-of-age novel is a contemporary masterpiece containing love, loss, and growth as it tells the story of Kya’s life.
2. The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down by Haemin Sunim
Haemin Sunim, a Zen Buddhist writer and teacher from South Korea, shares his insight on mindfulness and self-love in his book The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down. The author asks the important question: “Is it the world that is busy, or is it my mind?” The book is a compilation of short stories, haikus, and artworks by Korean painter Youngcheol Lee. Originally written in Korean, the book was translated by Haemin Sunim and well-regarded translator Chi-Young Kim. The book covers essential topics of self-care, such as the importance of rest and mindfulness, and helps the reader navigate more complex situations such as relationships, love, and spirituality.
3. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Hate U Give is a contemporary novel about a teenage girl named Starr who witnesses her childhood friend killed from police brutality. Following the complex emotions and experiences that follow this event, Angie Thomas uses Starr to give a real-life example of police brutality, misrepresentation of minority communities, and the civil unrest that rightfully follows instances of such brutality. The fictional example of a heart-wrenching and devastating event allows the reader to better understand the social impact of such events. This drawn out fictional example gives the reader a much better understanding of the complex reality behind police brutality.
4. Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Daisy Jones and the Six is a historical fiction novel that tells the story of a fictional band, Daisy Jones & The Six, as the author explores 1970s music culture. Told through an interview format, the entire book is set up like an interview conversation as it follows the journey of the band members on their journey to fame, focusing on themes of love, addiction, and self-discovery.
5. Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
F. Scott Fitzgerald is famously known for writing The Great Gatsby, the third of four books written during his career. His fourth and final book, Tender is the Night, tells the story of a young psychiatrist and his patient Nicole whom he marries out of a deep desire to ensure she is emotionally stable, a phenomenon known as the Florence Nightingale effect. The novel encompasses the stories of various characters as they vacation in the south of France and complex relationships begin to form between them. This book is a layered read consisting of numerous complex relationships, many of which are denoted by psychosis or past trauma.