Books to Keep You Company During Self-Isolation: Part I

^^ When the self-quarantine kicks in hard. ^^

I have always found a special kind of solace within the pages of a book. Whatever my mood or the circumstances of that moment, books have been constant through all the chapters of my life and given me both anchors when I felt adrift in the larger world, as well as expanded my perspective far beyond just my own experience. I try to read every day because for me it’s a form of meditation. Now more than ever, I find myself spending most evenings wading out the uncertainty of the coronavirus from my couch, immersed between the covers of a book with a large mug of tea. In the hope of providing you with the same solace my favorite books have provided me, here is a handful of book recommendations to keep you company during your time of self-isolation.

PS. If you’re looking to order any new books at this time, consider ordering from local bookstores online. Ones I adore that could use reader support now more than ever include Books Are Magic, Greenlight Bookstore, and Community Bookstore.

Let’s start with the fun stuff! If you’re looking for some lighthearted reads to take your mind off the ever developing, almost claustrophobic news cycle, I would recommend:

  • Tenements, Towers & Trash – This is a giant graphic novel of an unconventional illustrated history of New York City, bouncing between the boroughs with both historical and present-day stories. It’s SO WELL DONE. The book is chalk full of so many different segments including comparison drawings of what a street looked like in the 1900s versus present day, overlooked locations of New York City history, and quick, hilarious introductions to figures who changed New York — and the larger world’s — history. I am currently obsessed with it and need everyone to read it so we can talk about it!
  • Giant Days – Capturing the misadventures of college roommates Susie, Daisy, and Esther, this trio’s relatable misadventures are only outshone by their quirky and fiercely loyal friendship.
  • Harry Potter and the Soccer’s Stone (Illustrated Edition) – In times of uncertainty there is something extra comforting about reading beloved books. I bought this illustrated copy of the first Harry Potter book years ago and have never sat down to read it cover to cover. Now, I am extra enjoying my time slowing down to take in all the artwork, while also reading one of the most memorable stories of my childhood.
  • Step Aside, Pops! This collection of Hark, A Vagrant comics are all centered around women in history and they’re laugh out loud funny.
  • Fangirl and Carry OnThese books are both just so much fun and heart mixed into one. Fangirl follows Cath, an introverted freshman in college with an identical twin sister Wren. As Wren thrives in all the social life college has to offer, Cath feels herself being left behind and immersing herself in her fan fiction writing. This story is a coming-of-age tale of one cautious introvert’s journey of opening herself up to love and learning to find her own voice outside of the family caregiver role she’s always taken on. It’s kind-of sequel is Carry On which is actually the fan fiction Cath is writing in Fangirl turned into a book! It’s set in a magical school where enemies (or are they?!) Simon and Baz are paired as roommates. Forced to join together to fight an unidentified source of evil, Simon and Baz are also forced to reckon with their feels and it’s all just delicious goodness.

Now we’re moving into fiction reads that give you all the feels so prepare yourself for some real heart grabbing and audible sighs.

  • If you’re looking for a gorgeous story about what it means to choose and understand family, We Are Okay will hit just that spot. This short novel follow two girls, Mabel and Marin, whose lifelong friendship-turned-romance becomes tested after Marin loses the grandfather who raised her and discovers family secrets that threaten to shatter her life.
  • If you’re looking for a story to inspire you on your journey to figuring out your purpose, The Alchemist will do just that.
  • If you’re looking to cry over the sheer beauty of how words can be put together, Tiny Beautiful Things is a collection of Dear Sugar’s advice column letters that are so deeply heartfelt and moving.
  • For another story about the complicated nature of family expectations and what one sacrifices for love, Everything I Never Told You  by Celeste Ng follows the four differing perspectives of one Asian American family as they search for their missing daughter/sister and discover they didn’t quite know each other like they thought.
  • If you’re looking to bask in the sunshine that is first love, Call Me By Your Name will break your heart and put it back together again. Elio’s father’s monologue towards the end of the novel about the power of allowing yourself to love and feel heartbreak still gives me chills, it’s one of the most beautiful speeches I’ve ever read and later, seen performed. (I just listened to it right now and cried. Pair this with The Alchemist and just set your heart on fire.)
  • If you’re looking for a historical fiction, The Book Thief is so profoundly moving, and at moments intense, as one young girl attempts to navigate the changing world of World War II.
  • If you’re looking for a surprisingly story in a tiny package, All We Shall Know is that story.

You know when you get so excited to talk about something you lose track of time and how long you’ve potentially been talking? Yeah, me either. In order to not make this too enormous to consume, I am signing off here, but the second part will include recommendations of memoirs and fiction that will take you to another world.

I hope something here spoke to you. Should you be looking for more book-related content, I’ve previously written about my favorite books of 2019, 8 books I love about female friendship, top recs for your next vacation (which, uh, might better now be titled “top recs for your staycation due to a pandemic”), and this blog’s Instagram has more up-to-date recs throughout the month.  Now read on fellow bibliophiles, read on!

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