Library Week – Quarantine Recommendations

What to read while social distancing

Caroline Wilking, Staff Writer

Last week marked Library Week at NDP, and while we couldn’t spend it together in real life, we can all adventure into a new book at home. Although most libraries and bookstores are now closed, you can still order books on Amazon, listen to audiobooks, or rent and buy books on a Kindle, Nook, or other device. As we find ourselves in the midst of a pandemic right now, here are some pandemic reads to check out, from dystopian fantasy to historical fiction.

“Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel occurs in a dystopian setting where a global flu pandemic has taken the world by storm. The Traveling Symphony theater troupe travels a desolate world, and one young actress is connected with a deceased Hollywood actor in a strange way.

“Severance” by Ling Ma follows Candance Chen, a young woman living in New York when the plague known as the Shen Fever begins to spread. Candance tries to continue her life and routine as usual, but soon has to team up with other survivors to make it through safely. With humor, human connection, and a plague plot, this book is perfect to curl up with while social distancing.

“Doomsday Book” by Connie Willis brings two parallel pandemic stories together. A time traveller and historian is sent to Oxford in the time of the Black Plague. Meanwhile, those in present-day Oxford (2054-2055) are faced with a new pandemic.

“Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë is not wholly pandemic-focused, but if you’re in the mood for a classic read, this may be for you. Jane Eyre, a young orphan, is sent to a boarding school that is effected by a large-scale typhus epidemic. The bulk of the book, though, centers around the rest of Jane’s life and adventures.

“The Plague “by Albert Camus immediately jumps out as a perfect read for this time. This novel recounts the story of a plague overtaking the city of Oran in Algeria. Set in the 1940s, it follows various characters including doctors, vacationers, and fugitives, and explores human love, connection, and experience during a unique time.

“The Decameron” by Giovanni Boccaccio is a collection of short stories told by a group of people sheltering outside of Florence, Italy, to escape the Black Death. Originally written in Florentine Italian, this collection includes humor, tragedy, love, and morality.

“Feed” by Mira Grant (Seanan McGuire) is set a few decades after a zombie apocalypse and follows journalist Georgia Mason who must report on a presidential campaign. A series of fatal events lead Georgia and her brother to uncover a conspiracy involving the undead and the campaign. While our experiences now don’t quite equate to a zombie apocalypse, interesting connections can still be drawn and this is certainly a thrilling read.

“Love in the Time of Cholera” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is about exactly what you would think — love stories taking place while cholera takes effect. Fermina Daza learns about love and trust over the span of her life, and marries a doctor devoted to eradicating cholera.

“Viral” by JD Edwin is a short story based on accounts from those trapped in the Wuhan quarantine today. It takes just a few minutes to read and gives some perspective on what is going on in our world right now, so if you aren’t ready for a full-length novel or want to read something that directly connects to the coronavirus, this story is for you.

“Ammonite” by Nicola Griffith is a science fiction novel about a virus on another planet. Marge Taishan, an anthropologist, is sent there to study the planet’s cultures and test for a vaccine for the virus.

“The Book of M” by Peng Shepherd is about a very unique sort of disease — one that starts with shadow disappearance and leads to memory loss. The main characters, Ory and Max, are living in a forest to escape the disease, until one day Max’s shadow disappears. This novel poses questions about love, survival, hope, and the importance on memory.

“Walden” by Henry David Thoreau can be summed up as social distancing before it was mandatory. Thoreau lives in the woods and appreciates nature for over two years in a cabin near Walden Pond, recording his surroundings in this book. If you’re looking for advice on how to socially distance yourself, consider checking this out.

Even though we couldn’t celebrate the standard NDP Library Week, I hope you’ll consider celebrating on your own by diving into some of these books or others.