Since the onset of the pandemic in March, many of us have endured the struggles of coming up with innovative ways to stave off the enduring boredom. Whether it be participating in the newest TikTok trend or rediscovering a passion for crocheting, the difficulty of entertaining oneself during quarantine has led to the cultivation of new skills and hobbies for us all.
Despite these exciting discoveries, there is still only one dependable way of keeping busy in the face of mind-numbing quarantine fatigue — opening up a new book. Here are some of my favorite reads from the lockdown.
“Call Me by Your Name” and “Find Me” by André Aciman
It’s inevitable that several months of quarantine will have us all thinking of better times in the warm sun.
In André Aciman’s acclaimed novel, “Call Me by Your Name,” readers are introduced to the Italian countryside through the eyes of Elio Perlman, a 17-year-old boy who enters an enthralling love affair with Oliver, the 24-year-old graduate student who was invited to spend the summer with Elio’s family. The book, which is told in the first person, follows Elio as he discovers his identity during those unforgettable months alongside his house guest, who bewilders him at every twist and turn. By the end of the novel, both readers and narrator are struck by the plot — so emotionally poignant, it has us forgetting all about the quarantine. Best news? It has a sequel.
“The Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller
Despite having read it hundreds of times, “The Song of Achilles” continues to captivate me just as much as it did the time I first read it. Whisked into the lands of centuries past, readers will find this novel to be the perfect escape from the throes of reality.
Madeline Miller’s story takes place in ancient Greece and is told from the perspective of Patroclus, a minor character in Homer’s “Iliad.” The novel first unveils the protagonist as a young prince who has just been banished from his kingdom, effectively making him an orphan. Taken under the wing of a neighboring sovereign, Patroclus is thrust into Achilles’ orbit, and the two embark on a journey that spans their formative coming-of-age years and those of the Trojan War. Caught in a web of political intrigue and constant danger, both Patroclus and Achilles must learn what it means to fight for what they want, regardless of what that might be.
“So You Want To Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo
Published in 2018, this novel continues to be relevant in the political and racial climate of today, with Ijeoma Oluo providing thoughtful commentary on race relations in the United States.
Oluo, who has written for publications such as the Guardian and Jezebel, discusses topics including intersectional activism, microaggressions, police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement in her astounding work of nonfiction. Equal parts comedic, passionate and profound, Oluo’s book addresses the reader and serves to cultivate conversations about race that have long been overdue.
“The Art of Not Falling Apart” by Christina Patterson
As we continue to face the uncertainties and instability of a tumultuous year, I can think of few books that are as relevant to our current circumstances as Christina Patterson’s “The Art of Not Falling Apart.”
Recognizing that life can sometimes be unpredictable, Patterson’s novel features tales of both the journalist’s own mishaps and those of friends and strangers, which span from bad, worse to worst.
Focusing on the challenges we face and the all-too-human ability to resolutely overcome them, Patterson’s book serves as a poignant reminder to keep on fighting, even when everything sucks.