2020 has proven to be a difficult year. Each and every one of us is trying each end every day better than the one before it. Even if we are not directly affected by the Corona Virus either by loss of a loved one, a family member on the front lines or an essential worker, we can all do our part by staying home. In an effort to ease the pain and self control required for this, we turn to the media to keep us entertained and content. This leads to us powering through our pile of “to read” books, binging Netflix and catching up on YouTube series. The next day we turn around and all of the things that we thought we were never going to get to are done. We are like the hero of a story just after the climax. We are in the “what now?” period of the resolution in the narrative of our media consumption journey. Below are 11 different types of book suggestions to restock your inventory of “to read” books so you can have a new goal to work towards.
- A series: Eye roll, I know. But hear me out when I say completing a series over Quarantine will make you feel accomplished. You know how you feel when you finish a book and pride comes over you? When you read a series, multiple storylines together, you just one the book Olympics! Series can be daunting to some but they are very rewarding. Sure they take more time to finish that just one book but in the end you will ultimately feel refreshed. Besides, you have time nowadays anyway, right?
Some suggestions for book series that are tried and true are: The Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series, The Harry Potter series, The Giver Series and the Time Quintet Series (Starts with A Wrinkle In Time).
- Books all by the same author: Similar to a book series but different storylines. Reading different books by the same author is a good way to study their writing style. This can be immensely
- helpful for people who would like to become a writer themselves. This can be extra effective when you read a set of books by one author and then another set from a different author to compare their styles. Want to take it a step further? Read a group of books from different authors from relatively the same timeframe to set them in an even playing field. This can be a really insightful tool to study writing styles and techniques. Some author suggestions who have a large assortment of books to choose from who tend not to write in a series are: Charles Dickens(Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol), Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma), and John Green (The Fault in Our Stars, Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns).
- A fairytale: If you’re anything like me you are a sucker for the videos on YouTube that harold, “The True story of Peter Pan!” or “What Really happened in Alice in Wonderland?” and even, “The Untold Truth of Cinderella!”. Yah, I’m a little addicted to these. Maybe it’s because I feel cheered by society that they altered the story. Maybe it’s because I genuinely want to know what happened in the story. Maybe, if I accept the video’s version of truth, I can infer so much more about the societies which told these stories. In any event, seeing a different take on these classic stories makes me think. So, reading a fairy tale could be fun for you to. Sometimes you can buy or listen to just one story but more likely they will come in a collection with other stories so you can see all of the ones Disney rejected. However, if you think that these are going to be cute and all have happy endings like the Disney movies, do yourself a favor and don’t use them as a bedtime story as you are led to believe that they were. Some suggestions for collections of fairy tales are: The Brothers Grimm Stories(Most copies should include Repunzel, Hansel and Gretal, Cinderella, Little Red Cap aka Little Red Riding Hood, The Sleeping Beauty or it may be revered to as Briar Rose, Snow White, Rumpelstiltskin, Iron John etc.), The Complete Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen (The Princess and the Pea, Thumbelina, The Little Mermaid, The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Ugly Duckling, The Snow Queen, The Ice Maiden etc,) and also even though it is not really a classic Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling is a really quaint book and you don’t have to know anything about Harry Potter to read it.
- Plays, screenplays and scripts: Tired of watching shows? Read one instead! I always like to read the screenplay of different shows or movies that I have watched and come across a certain line where I couldn’t tell what the character was saying and see it laid out on the page so I can finally tell. Moreover, sometimes it’s just nice to read something straight on without all of the prose that is in an ordinary book. Some suggestions of plays, screenplays and scripts are: The works of William Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream etc.), The screenplay of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, The Truman Show Screenplay.
- Poems: I know, eye roll again! You’re not a poem person, I get it. Poems can be very small. Just try some tiny ones. Like vegetables, if you have a little of them every day, eventually you will like them, I promise. Poems get stereotyped as “old fashioned” and “boring”. I say to those haters that they just have not found a poet that they like. There are so many great modern poets who write in words that anyone could understand. Please give these poems some consideration: The House on Mango Street (a novel written in vignets) or anything by Shel Silverstein and/or Robert Frost and if you do like poems challenge yourself with something like the Iliad and the Odyssey, epic poems accredited to Homer.
- Historical Fiction: While you are sitting at home complaining about quarantine, read a historical fiction book so that you remember how good you have it while you are “suffering” with running water and electricity. Ooh, burn! But not all historical fiction is dark and depressing. Some of it has happy endings. For example, if the protagonist is an American soldier in the Revolutionary War and survives or an enslaved individual who makes it to freedom. Historical fiction can be a great way to reflect on the past and appreciate the present. Some examples of historical fiction include Number the Stars, Johnny Tramain, and (eye roll, I know you will it’s okay) The Magic Treehouse Series!
- As a side note, biographies or autobiographies about or by a certain historical figure can tell you a lot about a certain time period that you are interested in. Examples include Anne Frank’s Diary and Narrative of the life of Fredrick Douglass, an American Slave.
- Also, any piece of text written during the time period you were interested in can teach you about it. So, if you like the Victorian Era, read Harlem’s Dickens who wrote books which took place in Victorian England.
- Short Stories: Short and sweet, these stories give you a little taste of literature without commiting to an entire book. I find that short stories are often more passionate than a full length novel because they are more condensed. Some short stories that I deeply treasure are: The Mongoose by Rudyard Kipling, Harrison Bugeron by Kurt Vonnegut, The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell and The Lottery by Shirley Jackson.
- Books for kids!: Maybe you are a kid. Maybe you know one. Maybe you want to pretend that you are a kid. In any event, kids books are fun to read. I love looking through my old books just to remember old times. Should you find yourself in any of the above three descriptions, here are a few recommendations: It’s Mine by Leo Leionni, The Story of Zachary Zween by Mabel Watts, Beatrix Potter and the Unfortunate Tale of a Borrowed Guinea Pig by Deborah Hopkinson and Charlotte Voake, The Madeline Series by Ludwig Bemelmans and anything by Rohld Dahl.
- Choose your own story books: A surprisingly few people know about the wonders of choosing your own story books. For those who do not know, a choose your own story book is exactly what it sounds like, a book where the plot pitchforks and you choose what happens next. For example, let’s pretend that Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is a choose your own adventure book. The book would go something like: Now it was Harry’s turn to get sorted into a Hogwarts house. He comes up to the stool and Professor McGonagal places the hat on his head. “Hm” the hat said, “You would do well in Slytherin or Gryffindor, which one would you rather have Harry?”. Then there is a pause in the story and there are two options. One would go something like: If you choose option A, Slytherin, then to page 72 and If you chose option B, Gruffindor, turn to page 85. From there, you would get a different version of the story that goes back and forth and all around making each reader’s experience different. These are really cool books that you are sure to have a good time with; Pretty Little Mistakes by Heather McElhatton, My Lady’s Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel by Kitty Curran, To Be Or Not To Be: A Chooseable-Path Adventure by Ryan North and Romeo and/or Juliet: A Chooseable-Path Adventure also by Ryan North.
- Mystery: With your new skills from choosing your own adventure books, you will be able to envision dozens of ways a crime could have worked out in a mystery book! Don’t be scared, not all mystery books are bloody and gruesome with vivid descriptions of a corpse, although as a full disclaimer many are. In my view, mystery books are a great way to get your mind “up off the couch” while you have not moved all day. Without even realizing it, mystery books keep your brain sharp which is something we could all use right now. You will end up spending all of your free time trying to riddle out “who done it”, thereby working your brain’s reasoning and logical thinking muscles. They say that you may as well use the time spent in quarantine to work on a skill. Your friends may come out better at art, better chefs, some may have knit scarfed for everybody, but you my friend will be ready to be a full on detective. Up to the challenge? Try these gripping mystery books: The Nancy Drew series by Mildred Wirt Benson and anything by the queen of mystery, Agatha Christie, such The ABC Murders, And Then There Were None, and Death on the Nile.
I know you are bored, I am too. I know you are tired of quarantine, I am too. But if these book suggestions tempt you to stay in bed and stay home to read for a little while, making quarantine just a little more bearable, then I feel that I have done some good in our ever-changing world.
– Ainsley H