Five Books for Social Distancing

We’re all stuck at home a lot more than we’re used to, and the world pretty much sucks, for lack of a better way to put it. To me, this is the perfect time to read a ton of books. 

Books allow me to escape. It’s why I count reading as a big part of my self care. No matter what is going on in my life, I can disappear into a story and forget about it, even for just a little while. Even so, this hasn’t been all that easy the last few weeks. I’ve been more distracted while reading, and I know a lot of other folks have said the same thing. 

It makes sense – there’s a lot of uncertainty right now, and it’s scary. But for me, if I can’t read, it’s almost always because I’m just picking up the wrong book in the moment. Right now, I need books that are gripping, fast-paced, and either nice and fluffy or so intense I can’t get my mind off of it. I need something that will make me totally forget about what’s going on, so nothing too close to real life right now. 

My hunch is that it’s the same feeling for many of you, so I put together a little list of 5 books I think are perfect to read while social distancing. Try checking a few of these titles out that I have sitting in my home library. And don’t forget to support a local bookstore if you do decide to purchase any of these!  

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell 

Description: Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work email. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It’s company policy.) But they can’t quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious emails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.

Meanwhile, Lincoln O’Neill can’t believe this is his job now—reading other people’s e-mail. When Lincoln comes across Beth’s and Jennifer’s messages, he knows he should turn them in. He can’t help being entertained, and captivated, by their stories. But by the time Lincoln realizes he’s falling for Beth, it’s way too late to introduce himself. What would he even say…?

Why I recommend it: If there were an award for the cutest book I’ve ever read, this might be it. Told partially in Lincoln’s point of view and partially in email correspondence, it’s a really quick read. The characters are sweet and complex, and the story is easy to follow. I actually picked this up myself for a quarantine read, and it was exactly what I needed. Sweet, funny, fluffy and cute. 

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton 

Description: An astonishing technique for recovering and cloning dinosaur DNA has been discovered. Now humankind’s most thrilling fantasies have come true. Creatures extinct for eons roam Jurassic Park with their awesome presence and profound mystery, and all the world can visit them—for a price.

Until something goes wrong. . . .

Why I recommend it: Even if you’ve seen the movie, this book is worth picking up. It’s a fast-paced tale that will have you on the edge of your seat waiting to see what dino is going to pop out next and attempt to eat everyone. The writing is witty and the science makes sense, something I wasn’t necessarily expecting but found myself truly enjoying. Because Crichton spent time breaking down the science behind it all, it made the story much more realistic and interesting. Plus, this is a book series, so you’re automatically in it for another two books! 

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman 

Description: Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy—as in standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-strangers crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land-of-Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas, where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.

When Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa’s greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother’s instructions lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and old crones but also to the truth about fairy tales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.

Why I recommend it: This story is told from the point of view of Elsa, giving the story a cute innocence – but it also didn’t drive me crazy, like some child-centered stories can. Elsa is a mature 7-year-old, making the story interesting and readable, but not so mature that it’s unbelievable. It’s a sweet story about love, grief, and family. The mystical, magic elements just make it more fun to read and take you back to being a kid.

IT – Stephen King 

Description: Welcome to Derry, Maine. It’s a small city, a place as hauntingly familiar as your own hometown. Only in Derry the haunting is real.

They were seven teenagers when they first stumbled upon the horror. Now they are grown-up men and women who have gone out into the big world to gain success and happiness. But the promise they made twenty-eight years ago calls them reunite in the same place where, as teenagers, they battled an evil creature that preyed on the city’s children. Now, children are being murdered again and their repressed memories of that terrifying summer return as they prepare to once again battle the monster lurking in Derry’s sewers.

Why I recommend it: I find myself gravitating toward longer books right now so I have something to hold my attention for more than a few days. IT is an epic read (my copy is 1,150 pages) and I was hooked for every single one of them. I love King’s writing style and his ability to develop such realistic characters. I think most classify this book purely as horror and discount it as something scary, but the story is more complex than that. In my opinion, the movies (old and new) trivialized the story to make it scarier (as they should) but this book is more powerful and interesting than most believe. 

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Description: It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

“Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger told them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me sit down for a moment, and then I’ll be on my way. Speaking of ways, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract.”

Why I recommend it: A tesseract, if you’re totally lost, is a wrinkle in time. This book was one of my absolute favorites growing up. It’s mystical and magical and adventurous and even frightening at times. It’s a book I could read over and over again and fall in love with. I think, truly, you could replace this fifth suggestion with your own favorite book as a kid (Harry Potter is another one for me). Returning to a world that makes you feel full of wonder and excitement is the best way to escape any gloomy mood, in my humble opinion. 

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